Are You Carrying An Invisible Backpack?

by Rosita Hall | Professional Speaker, Trainer, and Coach

As we passed the first anniversary of the COVID 19 outbreak, many of us remembered the past year as one of the most challenging periods in our history. A year that has, and continues to shake us to the core in terms of how we work, engage with our family and friends and view the world. The question that is no doubt still on the minds of many people is, when will it be over? 

There has been a tremendous amount of loss as a result of the pandemic. Some of these losses include loss of a well defined and welcomed routine, loss of family or friends, loss of connection with loved ones, loss of celebrations, loss of predictability, loss of support systems and the loss of the way life used to be. All of these losses can have a detrimental impact on our well-being, and if left unchecked can wreak havoc on our mental health, our productivity level as well as our relationships. 

COVID has left many of us in a state of grief. Grief is often associated with the loss of someone or something of personal significance to the person grieving. Interestingly, many people do not equate the scourge of the pandemic with contributing to their personal grief which is why I refer to it as the invisible backpack. This invisible backpack is weighed down with many negative attributes such as fatigue, sadness, anger, numbness, and the inability to stay focused. Knowing that grief can impact our overall health and well being, it is important that we begin to alleviate the pressures associated with the invisible backpack.

Below are five tips to assist with that process:

  1. Acknowledge that what you are carrying is grief. The first step to any healing process is to first acknowledge the reality of our situation.
  2. Understand that grief is a healthy process. As human beings, whenever our attachments are threatened, harmed, or severed, we naturally grieve. Grief is everything we think and feel inside of us when this happens. We experience shock and disbelief. We worry, which is a form of fear. We become sad and possibly lonely. We get angry. We feel guilty or become regretful. The sum total of all these and any other thoughts and feelings we are experiencing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic is our grief. (Canadian Mental Health Association)
  3. Recognize that grief in not linear and that it does not have a fixed time frame. Everyone grieves differently. There is no shame in grieving.
  4. Find a daily self-care routine that works for you. Although the pandemic has caused havoc to our mental, physical and spiritual health, we should all focus (or refocus) on daily self-care activities and routines. Keep your activities simple to start as the goal is to establish a routine which will give you a sense of control and accomplishment. Try for example, a 20 minute walk each day, or a ten-minute meditation or prayer routine or simply take time to be grateful for what is going well in your life.
  5. Ask for help. If you are struggling with grief and need additional support, seek out resources in your community. The Canadian Mental Health Association has many useful resources and can refer you to several more.

This blog is authored by one of our outstanding educators contributing to IAAP Summit 2021.

Rosita Hall, Professional Speaker, Trainer, Coach

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