Light in the darkness?

A sunset with trees

Dark nights and hard times can be a strain on mental health. Jane writes about finding the light.

It’s December again. Despite more than a combined century of life, the short days and long periods of darkness here in the Northern hemisphere still surprise Hormoz and I in a way that can drain energy. More than anything, the festive lights offer cheer; a hint of the proverbial ‘light at the end of the tunnel’.

And what a tunnel it has been! Nobody could have anticipated quite how long the health pandemic would affect us. With our options for socialising curtailed again, our spirits dampened and only a few hours of natural light available each day, it is easy to feel low at the moment.

There has been a lot of emphasis on mental health during the crisis. And many of us have had more time for reflection – and introspection. This can lead to us feeling that we should somehow be able to 'sort out' our own mental health. And with so much ill health and suffering around, we may feel guilty for feeling low. This can be counter-productive. It will not make you feel better to tell yourself off for feeling bad. And doing this could lead us to look inwards more – perhaps too much so.

Jamil Zaki, Psychology Professor at Stanford University recently wrote about some myths around self-care: ‘though self-care soothes, it can be too individualistic to help with loneliness.‘ He comments on research into post-pandemic kindness which shows ‘People are psychologically intertwined, such that helping others is a kindness to ourselves and watching over ourselves supports others.’

There is nothing quite like the feeling of helping another human being, in however small a way. So, it is worth looking for opportunities to do this. And as Zaki suggests, the process is reciprocal, so be aware of this if you need help and try to get over any reluctance you may have in asking for it. Most often others will want to help you. And it makes both of you feel better.

It also helps to remind ourselves that no situation is permanent. This period, as difficult as it is, will change. So much of it is about how we get to position ourselves in the tough times and the period to follow. This quote is quite poignant:

'Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.'
Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

We feel that one of the reasons that coaching is so powerful is because it creates a real connection. When someone listens to you actively, you feel different and can think differently. Having coaching is an act of self-care that can enable you to care better for others, feel better and do better. When your personal ‘tunnel’ feels too dark, coaching can help you create and then clearly see the light towards which you want to move.

If you have never tried coaching and are intrigued, or have had coaching and would benefit from a ‘booster’ please talk to us.

Read more of our blogs about mental health here.


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