Tuesday, November 30, 2021

 

As I See It: Catherine Drea’s fortnightly column as published in the Waterford News & Star

 

I’D been trying to avoid mentioning the war. You know the one I mean. The one where we are fighting a battle against an enemy we can’t see, hear or touch. I’d been writing about breakfasts and beauty when yet another Taoiseach’s address to the nation issued a stark warning and my heart just sank.

It was as if I was holding on tight and expecting to be caught, when suddenly I couldn’t hold on any more and was just falling through space. I had a good few rants about incompetent leadership and hapless disorganisation. I’m pretty sure I shouted at him a few times and felt the pain of the solid hospital workers as they received the news that their workload coming into December is going to be carnage, as one hospital consultant put it.

And then I just fell into a hump. In fact it seemed to me it was a national hump.

 

‘It’s better to do something, anything, rather than sink into the grim negativity of what is going on all around us’

 

We all began to admit to being completely fed up and weary at this stage. It’s not about a meaningful Christmas this year, it’s about a meaningful ordinary everyday life. I couldn’t give a hoot about Christmas. (Although I’m well aware of certain small people who it means the world to, so don’t quote me.)

I’m now more concerned about where we are going to find the resilience to carry us through the winter. The impact of bad news on people is not good for staying on an even keel. For those of us safe and warm and used to working from home, more restrictions are the least of our problems. The worry is that people whose lives and working situations have changed dramatically over the last two years are struggling against some impossible odds.

Working from home suits some of us. However, people who work in creative or social teams can feel bereft and isolated without contact with their collaborators. Isolation and lack of community contact can also hamper family life and getting support to the more vulnerable people. Bad news is a serious challenge to our sense of wellbeing in the midst of fear and a ramping up of restrictions.

On top of everything else, as the nights drew in over the last few weeks, it was hard not to feel a sense of dread about winter and the colder weather coming down the line. Lack of light can be detrimental to health at the best of times. There is even a special light therapy very popular in Scandinavia where it is dark in winter, where people sit in front of a UV light to have their mood transformed.

Now I can’t see us all doing that. We still have incredible light here in the South East. My way of dealing with the doom and gloom is to get out whenever the sun shines. Now at times I won’t pretend, I am literally dragging my feet along. Other times when the light bounces off the sea or I come to the top of the hill and stand in awe of the view, it soothes my soul.

I’m convinced that any change of scene will lift the spirits so I try to vary these walks and chats with friends as much as possible. Lots of the women I know are sea swimmers and they seem to benefit hugely from the endorphins that are stimulated by taking the ozone.

It’s better to do something, anything, rather than sink into the grim negativity of what is going on all around us. On a call with a young friend today I found myself saying, “Don’t be so hard on yourself! How could you possibly be achieving all your goals in the current circumstances. Give yourself a break. It’s not your fault!”

It’s no one’s fault that businesses are struggling, that workers feel burnt out, that being home is lonely, that some of us find it harder to get out of bed on a cold morning.

I realised chatting to my friend that we have to be very gentle with ourselves at the moment. This ongoing situation is hard. The world has changed and we all find ourselves in new territory and trying to figure out how to keep our heads above water and not go under.

As the saying goes, it’s OK not to be OK. Or, maybe it’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness? Take your pick. The main thing is to ease up on having too high expectations of yourself. This won’t go on forever and we will all have learned a huge amount about ourselves and each other. Hang in there and dig deep for grit and grace under these relentlessly challenging circumstances.

Go easy on yourself and each other. We will get through it.

 

Catherine Drea blogs at Foxglovelane.com

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By Catherine Drea
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