how to implement change when reality makes it difficult

Receiving the new year is usually accompanied by lists with good intentions. But the consequences of pandemic they weigh when it comes to changing course in everyday life. However, the will to improve in the field of Health (physical and emotional) is an aspect on which negotiations do not fit, especially after long months of uncertainty, limitations and radical transformations.

“Just as memory is congruent with our state of mind, with regard to the future the same thing happens. If now I feel discouraged, sad, negative, tired … it is possible that I anticipate a less positive future“shares Cristina Mae Wood, a European doctor in Psychology, specialized in anxiety and stress, and a health psychologist at the Madrid Human Area Center.

Although not everyone was affected by the pandemic with the same severity, the states of anxiety, stress and depression they are also part of the new normal. And, precisely these tables can be an obstacle in the achievement of certain goals. But are not the only ones. Being deprived of freedom of movement or with cut income are other reasons that stop certain transformations in the routine.

Put your sentimental life in order, achieve a better work-life balance and more balance at work, integrate a healthy nutrition or finding a better distribution in the face of family charges are some of the most pressing objectives to start 2021 in order.

“It is important to bear in mind that, although the desire to do something helps, it is not the determining part. What is relevant is the decision to carry out a review of our objectives and values”, explains Joselin Miranda Gómez, health psychologist and member of the team at the Center for Clinical Psychology.

And, explain the psychologists consulted, this is the way to make changes in life when reality makes it difficult.

The quarantine triggered terminal crises in many couples. Photo Shutterstock.

In the couple: materialize a break (even without money)

Confinement tested each and every relationship that lives under one roof. In some cases, it resulted in a strengthening of the couple. But, in many others, the result was the opposite. “Many couples have been brought together by quarantine, and about half realized they weren’t working,” shares Wood.

Given this circumstance, starting a life alone is the most logical consequence. However, the job insecurity derived from the crisis made this movement impossible for many people. “Those who thought to put an end to the relationship and, due to the economic situation, have not been able to carry it out, can reach a minimum agreement in which the privacy of the other is respected, an individual space is allowed, distribute the domestic responsibilities and the care of the children, and maintain a balance in the economic part “, recommends Miranda.

According to the experts, be aware of the situation It is the first step. From there, if you do not have enough money to become independent, it is important to make numbers and start saving or looking for work if you do not have it. “You may not be able to leave in a month, but you may in six months. The important thing is to have a goal,” Wood suggests.

In 2019, the WHO recognized burnout as a disease.  Illustrative image Shutterstock.

In 2019, the WHO recognized burnout as a disease. Illustrative image Shutterstock.

Professionally: managing the ‘burn-out’ (in full crisis)

The layoffs were the general trend in the labor market. The teams were reduced and, as a consequence, the workload increased. Who already suffered burn-out (burned worker syndrome) in their workplace, they saw this situation increased. But both these profiles and others who had proposed a change of professional sign saw their intentions slowed down by the general situation.

“If you realize that you are not passionate about your work, if you do not learn, if you suffer burn-out, if the relationship with your boss is disastrous or if you are bored, the important thing is to search. This is something that happens to 80% of the population“shares the anxiety specialist.

Despite the complexity of the moment, it is important to do an analysis on where it would be desirable to focus the race, without giving up or creating limitations to it. “You have to keep in mind that the only solution is not to quit your job. It is important to be flexible, in the beginning you can request a reduced day or, if you are very stressed or depressed, take a leave of absence and give yourself time ”, continues Wood.

Likewise, taking advantage of the free time to investigate those topics in which you want to grow, even outside of work, is beneficial. Also, improve profiles on LinkedIn and start inform the network of contacts about our objective, to be aware of the opportunities that may arise.

On the other hand, the physical exercise It is another tool to reduce work stress. “It is much more effective against depression and stress than any pill. Sport helps release cortisol, increases oxytocin levels and that reduces anger. All of this is very important for us to be calmer, sleep better and let’s not think so much negative“, Adds the doctor in psychology.

Eating better, a goal that many set at the beginning of the year.  Photo Archive.

Eating better, a goal that many set at the beginning of the year. Photo Archive.

Break away from emotional food

Among the most recurrent resolutions at the beginning of the year is the review of the relationship that is maintained with food. In 2021, this topic may concern more people than usual. We spend more time at home than ever and this circumstance, coupled with a framework of uncertainty and anxiety, unleashed unhealthy eating patterns.

“Food, like any other addiction, never fixes the underlying problem. If I have anxiety, stress and I use food to calm those unpleasant emotions, all I am going to do is create a new problem, “Wood shares. Again, being aware that there is a mismatch in the relationship with food is the first step to handle the situation.

Likewise, it is essential to draw up routines that stop the act of being carried away by food when something emotionally fails. “Even if there is a situation that we do not like and that limits us to a certain extent, it is possible to maintain and take care of a routine adjusted to our interests. It will help us to organize and face day-to-day difficulties in a more adaptive way”, explains Miranda.

If the probability of success in changing habits is to be increased, the way in which we conceive the situation should be transformed or, what is the same, the assessment of threat by that of challenge.

In the first case, it is negative thoughts that direct a certain situation (which can last for months), resulting in feelings such as anxiety, frustration, insecurity, fear, sadness, anger. “Those emotions accumulated over time, especially when there is a lot of uncertainty, are going to have negative consequences on behavior,” warns Wood.

However, when establishing a challenge assessment, the focus is on what we want to happen. “It’s very easy: What would I like to see happen? See how my body changes, feel good in my own skin. You visualize it and feel those positive emotions, which in that case would be illusion, excitement, excitement. They will always have positive consequences, “he continues.

Physical activity is key to physical and mental well-being.  Photo Shutterstock.

Physical activity is key to physical and mental well-being. Photo Shutterstock.

Maintain the sports routine

Before the first confinement, going to the gym, cardio class or even the treadmill at home became a must. As the months passed, the will to continue training from home fell.

“The problem for most people is that they wait to be motivated to play sports, and that is a trap, a deception. To feel like it you have to create the habit, little by little. We are animals of habit and, when we repeat a behavior, approximately at 21 days it becomes a routine and it doesn’t cost that much anymore, “reveals Wood.

If the problem is because the exercise pattern that was followed cannot be maintained due to the restrictions, maintaining an open attitude is the key so that the sporting intention does not decline. “It is advisable to focus on what we can do now to get as close as possible to our objectives. To do this, we must be realistic and act in the short term,” advises Miranda.

The pandemic distorted the boundaries between family, work and school life.  Photo Shutterstock.

The pandemic distorted the boundaries between family, work and school life. Photo Shutterstock.

Coping with family burdens

Another situation that worsened the health crisis is the weight that certain people bear due to the caring for relatives or loved ones. Those who are in charge of the elderly or those with delicate health and had external help were sometimes deprived of it, for fear of contagion or quarantines, or because of the crisis. Something similar happens in the case of childcare.

“Each person has to value the resources they have, value them and set limits, also in terms of the energy that is offered,” says Wood. If it is about children, the psychologist insists that it is necessary to share with them that parents also get tired and establish moments of disconnection.

Introducing activities that generate well-being is a useful tool in these cases. “Activities such as taking a short walk, doing some relaxation exercise, maintaining social activity even through a video call, trying to organize times and daily routines (sleep, food, physical exercise) or simply stop and get distracted a few minutes a day can help release tension, “recommends Miranda.

When time is short, Wood proposes to review habits, such as time spent on mobile applications. “If we do a cell phone or television fast, we will gain a lot of time to invest in our psychological well-being. Exercise, read in bed, draw, sew or do meditation. With investing 15-20 minutes a day it is enough “, concludes the specialist in anxiety and stress.

By Rocío Navarro Macías, for La Vanguardia.

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