What we’ve learned about ourselves

in Features

During these incredibly difficult times, it can be easy to blame politicians, dwell on the challenges of living through a pandemic or feel hugely frustrated with those in charge. However, to be more introspective and examine our own growth during this upsetting time is both healing and somewhat fascinating.  It may also be the most unique experience you will have during your life.

Many people have discovered an inner strength yet still find themselves struggling in everyday situations. 

Walking and connecting to nature is very pivotal to a persons wellbeing. Staying in contact with friends and family, maintaining connections to those close to us is emotionally important – in fact, essential. Being a people person makes lack of socialising difficult so ensuring regular and meaningful contact can keep our emotional wheels turning. 

Where can you find emotional comfort: loved ones, nature, animals possibly favourite hobbies or pastime. For each of us, it will be something different. Whatever gives you a sense of calm, some inner peace, must be embraced and cherished.

The time that we spend by ourselves can be revelation. It gives us the opportunity to explore what is important to us. It provides real time emotional space to discover or rediscover what our priorities are, in all areas of our lives. It is incredible yet somehow poignant that small moments and rituals can make such a big impact on our daily routines.  Whether it is a coffee and a browse through the newspapers or a stroll through a favourite park, recognise what gives you sense of wellbeing.  Feeling loved and cared for gives us all a sense of security. Looking at the past is pointless and trying to predict the future is also using up our energy on a fruitless task. It is worth channelling our feelings on what we can make a difference to, not on situations we have no control over.  The time this situation allows us gives us a chance to be honest with ourselves. Not in a judgemental way but in a measured, knowing way. The only solace at the moment is to live in and appreciate the moment. Has this crisis brought out qualities in ourselves? 

Almost certainly. Empathy, awareness and developing inner strength are all emotional assets, especially now when we need to embrace them more than ever. Some individuals who have needed to self isolate understand more about their own personality.  It allows time to reflect on my strengths, my fragilities, in fact, it gives us room to consider and think about various situations and events throughout our lives.  For others, the extra time has been an opportunity to take on tasks and jobs they would have previously paid for.  Be it home hair colouring, garden maintenance or some DIY jobs that have been neglected due to the pressures of everyday life.  

Vanessa Gebhardt, Mind Coach at Freeletics, the leading provider of AI-based fitness and mindset coaching.

Gebhardt states ‘The pandemic has been tough on everyone’s physical, emotional and mental health. People have learnt new things about themselves and how to cope during these strange times. I have learnt to slow down when it comes to working, which has made me look after my overall wellness and check in with myself every day. 

If you’re not sure where to start, just begin with a to-do list or simply write down your daily goals, thoughts and feelings, there is plenty of room for inspiration and writing down ideas. Journaling helps to give your life more structure, and checking the boxes gives you a feeling of achievement. It also allows you to emotionally navigate your feelings, make sense of them and figure out how to overcome them’.

Physical fitness is incredibly important at all times but non more so than now.  Our mental and emotional health is being severely challenged so the ability to channel our energies into our physical wellbeing is essential. It can prove positive for certain individuals to retain their particular routine, whether it’s a daily walk, online classes or a keep fit regime you have created to meet your abilities and fitness level.  Partaking of exercise at the same time each day can be reassuring and the sense of routine gives us a structure that we all need at such a difficult time.

The examination of ourselves can reveal surprising personality traits that we might not have been aware of. There are those who considered themselves to be quite introvert, not particularly in need of company or socialising. However, when placed in a situation where they are unable to meet up with friends or visit restaurants or bars, they realise just how vital human interaction is.  They are almost surprised how much they actively miss the companionship and interaction with others. This realisation can be emotionally reassuring and comforting. It actually feels good to know you are connected enough to people to actively miss them and desire their company. Another way to engage and be part of a wider community is to watch streamed live music. Of course it cannot replace the physical experience but you can be part of that moment.  There are plays, magicians, comedy – in fact a whole raft of entertainment to draw on. This is particularly valuable to those who live on their own, especially those who are isolating. How we ‘top and tail’ our days can also play a fundamental part in keeping balanced. For those based at home, whether working or perhaps home schooling, it would be easy to stay a little later in bed or watch late night films into the early hours. Our bodies and minds respond to routine. Getting up and going to bed at roughly the same time enables us to create our own rhythm.

Having time freed up can allow us the luxury of thinking, planning and dreaming of what we want. To realise our ambitions and embrace activities that embrace what motivates us.  It is a chance to explore interests that there simply isn’t enough time to enjoy when you are working full time. Delving into books that have been gathering dust on your shelves. Learning to play a musical instrument or picking up one you’ve toyed with over the years. The joy we receive from creative ventures are unique.

Gordon Fraser is a Health and Wellbeing Expert, Executive Coach and Motivational Speaker. Mindfulness and gratitude are two areas Fraser feels are important and comments

‘Stop multi-tasking and be in the moment. Do one thing at a time and giving it your full focus will help you maintain your calm. If you’re throwing your lunch down your neck, watching TV and scrolling through the internet – what’s the quality of your experience of life like? I mean, you won’t even taste or savour your food, slow down, chew much and take it easy’.

Regarding gratitude, Fraser suggests ‘Before you go to bed, write down 5 things you’re grateful for. Have a list next to your bed. It really makes a difference. If you are feeling confident and want to pass it forward you can also text people who you’re grateful for too. This first mental step of appreciation is excellent for your mind health. We spend so much time trying to obtain what we don’t have, (like the six pack).’

Gordon Frazer:


Vanessa Gebhardt:  


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