The Art of Decompression

WMCNZ AdministratorCOVID-19, News, Pastoral Care, Self Care

Guest Post: Aaron Ironside from AI Counselling & Coaching

After who knows how many days (I stopped counting ages ago), we have made it to Level 2. Coffees are back, catching up with friends and family is back……and work is back.
Oh well, it can’t all be good news!  
It may not feel like it, but Lockdown has probably taken a lot of emotional energy from your tank. It’s tempting to think that going back to work will help us finally feel normal again. And it will……..eventually.
Many of us will find the shift to level 2 harder than we were anticipating. There’s a good chance our body will go back to work before our brain does – we are going to need to do practice “emotional decompression.”
Humans don’t change gears too easily, so we may find even simple tasks and interactions take a lot more effort than usual – except it won’t be as easy to take an afternoon nap. We need time and space for our brain to recalibrate to the work routines.
So how do you practice “emotional decompression” so that your brain can catch up?
Remember there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to feel. People react in different ways to change, so don’t tell yourself (or anyone else) what you should be thinking, feeling, or doing.
Don’t ignore your feelings—it will only slow recovery. It may seem better in the moment to avoid experiencing your emotions, but they exist whether you’re paying attention to them or not. Even intense feelings will pass if you simply allow yourself to feel what you feel.
Avoid obsessively reliving the Lockdown. Repetitious thinking or talking can overwhelm your nervous system, making it harder to think clearly. Maybe suggest a staff morning tea where everyone gets to share their experience once, rather than repeating the story all day long.
Reestablish routine. There is comfort in the familiar. After Level 3 and 4, getting back—as much as possible—to your normal routine, will help you minimize stress, anxiety, and hopelessness. Even if your work routine is disrupted, you can structure your day with regular times for eating, sleeping, spending time with family, and relaxing.
Put major life decisions on hold. Making big life decisions about home, work, or family while you are still decompressing will only increase the stress in your life. If possible, try to wait until life has settled down, you’ve regained your emotional balance, and you’re better able to think clearly.
Take care out there….
Aaron Ironside is a counsellor with A.I Counselling and Coaching – a private counselling service offering help to individuals and couples at their point of need. Aaron has over 2000 hours of counselling experience, drawing on his Masters Degree in Psychology and his training with Living Wisdom and Strength to Strength.