Vitality is now more important than ever and I know this for one reason and one reason alone… I am struggling.
If you have read any of my previous blogs you’ll know as a Life Coach I put a high value on supporting my clients to achieve vitality. To me, vitality is feeling of enough value to want to show up in my life and in the life of others. ‘Showing up’ is often the opposite of what we deliver when in a period of depression, where we fail to commit to self-care or, in the extreme, the basic daily functions for an ‘average’ human being such as getting out of bed, eating, washing, and taking part in an activity of some value.
My focus on vitality was born from two key learnings I had made through my own experience of depression and how I ultimately overcame it, or more recently as you will read, at least control it.
- If I know exactly how I ‘do’ depression and then I ‘do’ the opposite, can I trick my brain into thinking I am not depressed?
- If I take care of myself, can I force my brain into thinking I value myself enough that there must be something beyond me worth living for?
I was able to answer yes to both questions and this then became a core of the work I do with my clients. In brief, the creation of a Vitality Checklist supports an individual to focus on the small daily or weekly tasks which make a person the most vital version of themself. The tasks are often the opposite of the lifestyle they have when depressed and lift a person’s self-worth to a level by which they a willing to proactively engage in their coaching and the bigger goals they begin to focus on achieving once daily life is under control.
Here is why I believe vitality is now more important than ever… because since achieving mental well-being, I have never felt more challenged by my mental health than I do now. Right up to the point of isolation I was in control, resilient and engaged in my life and lives of others. Then I, like many of you, was thrown into a position of lockdown. While the challenges you experience will be unique to you, here is what I am finding most difficult:
- Through unfortunate timing, I mean, who had time to prepare for the lockdown? I have ended up isolated on my own. For me, periods of depression were always spent in solitude. Alone in my flat and hiding from the outside world.
- Lockdown so closely resembles the symptoms of depression, where each day has little structure, the days merge into one another, and the focus on self-care seems less necessary because no one is going to see me.
- My cupboards are full of food, yes, I am not proud but I too fell prey to fear and stocked up on essential items. Who am I kidding? Dairy Milk Fruit and Nut bars are hardly essential but alas in my supermarket haze I bought a lot of them. What this has meant is the temptation of, and I am comfortable in saying defeat to, a previous symptom of comfort eating.
- I am not exercising and I know working out has a positive impact on my mood. As someone who got into the habit of going to the gym a few times a week, I have not yet been able to sustain running or even walking daily, and I’ve certainly not yet managed a home workout.
- Finally, and potentially one of the greatest impacts, I feel like I have lost the vital role I play in other people’s lives. Family and friends are settled into their own lockdown with no support required. My major corporate contracts were put on hold until further notice. The majority of my private coaching clients have chosen to wait until they can resume face-to-face sessions. I look at one family member who works in Public Sevice and my best friend who manages a pharmacy and I see the vital role they are playing in supporting the nation to navigate this challenging time. As I sit at home watching Tiger King on Netflix, I, like many others, are questioning my value.
When I reflect on my two previous key questions, which ultimately gave freedom to me and so many of my clients; I am not faring well.
I am allowing lockdown to too closely mirror depression rather than be the opposite of it, and I am allowing myself to feel of no value to myself, or to others.
On a call with a client and good friend, I referenced how sick I was of hearing the words ‘Coronavirus’ and ‘unprecedented’, and said I was now going to refer to this period as ‘the new new’. This is life as we now know if and for the foreseeable future, a timeframe which seems to change daily. It was at that moment I identified the solution, I need to create a new plan for ‘the new new’. The tools and techniques I have used to date worked for me in the world as it was but I am no longer in that world, where I am now is, I hate to say it, unprecedented.
I am reconnecting with vitality and specifically the Vitality Checklist template I created for myself and for my clients. Although it’s available for anyone to download from my website. I will create and share my personal checklist tomorrow and explain the rationale for each of my daily goals. I, like you, need to design a plan that reflects the circumstances I now find myself in and needs to focus on achieving vitality within the boundaries of the current crisis we have found ourself in.
Old ways of thinking and working will not achieve the mental wellbeing so many of us have worked hard to achieve now is a call to arms for a new way of thinking and a new set of tools.
With this proactive approach, I think I can return to showing up in my life and the life of others.
Are you with me?