What an incredible year 2020 has been. I’m trying to resist using the word unprecedented. Oops! Yet, it certainly has been.
For many, this year has been traumatic with serious job losses or demanding changes, limited access to loved ones, extra caring and teaching responsibilities, and too much isolation. We’ve been tested to manage the best we can, despite what health challenges we may already have.
For others, life has been relatively unchanged or has provided the valuable opportunity to slow down, reflect on what’s important and enjoy a slower pace.
As a Coaching Psychologist and Optimal Health Coach, I’ve seen clients who have struggled with feeling less in control, with regular routines disrupted, as restrictions have been imposed for months on end. Those who have spent more time at home closer to the fridge, unable to access their usual exercise options, sliding into bed later or having poorer sleep quality. Overall struggling to manage stress effectively. All in addition to genuine financial concerns, and the ambiguity that a massive change like this can bring.
All the while, feeling grateful for the health outcomes our country has managed to achieve compared to elsewhere.
So now as we start to open up and feel a sense of freedom and things return to ‘normal’ what are some of the new challenges we may be experiencing? Prior to this pandemic, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) was more common. And during, the alternative opposite to this for some was JOMO (Joy of Missing Out).
At the risk of outstaying my welcome with one more acronym, some of you may have heard of the psychological phenomenon being mooted currently: FOGO (Fear of Going Out).
Also termed as Fear of Freedom or Re-Entry Syndrome where people can feel overwhelmed with too many choices after months of choices being made for us. Very real for many.
There are two main types of re-entry anxiety: some people are anxious because they have a lurking fear of catching or spreading the virus, while others have fallen out of practice socialising and may find it difficult to resume. I also know of others who are highly self-conscious about their weight gain that they are avoiding social situations or job searching for fear of being judged.
Whatever your experience this year, how do we now proceed and resume “normality” and establish or re-establish healthy habits that serve us well for optimal health and enjoying life?
There is likely to be a re-integration period for some. Going slowly will help instead of making up for “lost” time. Also, the more we avoid things we’re concerned about, sometimes the bigger those things become. So, approaching issues in small steps can be beneficial.
Same goes for a range of self-care/health goals. Many people go for broke and attempt massive change too soon (being mindful New Year’s Resolutions may be imminent!), then get overwhelmed and quit. How common is this with diet and exercise goals?
Then it’s easy to rinse and repeat, and then become easily demoralised about whether we can ever reach our important goals.
This pandemic has also highlighted that health and wellbeing is broader than isolated symptom management. It’s about the daily choices we make to eat and move well, manage our mindset/stress levels and nourish positive relationships.
So, has this pandemic given you the chance to consider how you best prioritise what is important?
There is a practical Model of Wellbeing called PERMAH that clients find really useful, and it highlights this broader notion of optimal health. The model is a combined effort by Professor Martin Seligman, one of the founders of Positive Psychology, and other researchers including Michelle McQuaid from The Wellbeing Lab in Melbourne.
PERMAH Model of Wellbeing
- Positive Emotions: the right balance of heartfelt positivity to boost resilience
- Engagement: the regular development of our strengths
- Relationships: the creation of authentic, energising connections with others
- Meaning: a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves
- Accomplishment: the belief and ability to do things that matter most to us
- Health: staying healthy by eating well, moving regularly & sleeping/resting effectively
Proactively targeting strategies for these wellbeing pillars can significantly impact your overall optimal wellbeing and healthy longevity.
My vision within health coaching, is to empower people to transform their health with proactive sustainable lifestyle and mindset changes so they can live long and happy lives.
Being very mindful that two out of three Australian adults are overweight or obese (and the potential consequences), I’m increasingly concerned about the slow burn pandemic of chronic illness that also exists – pre and post COVID-19. And that’s not to attribute blame to individuals at all, but to highlight that people can often change this picture with the right information and support.
The continuing rise of insulin resistance, Metabolic Syndrome, Type 2 Diabetes and other chronic diseases is highly concerning and there are many things that can be done to prevent and manage these conditions that some people are unaware of.
One of the most inspiring people leading this charge is our very own 2020 Australian of the Year, Dr James Muecke, an Adelaide Eye Surgeon. If you’ve not heard him speak, I highly recommend you find 35 minutes to listen to “Southgate Oration with Dr James Muecke AM”, Flinders University. https://youtu.be/z5or-1nJQ_Q
It’s a brilliant summary of the global over-consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates and its link to T2 Diabetes and other chronic diseases. He shares some sobering Australian statistics, including his own diagnosis of Fatty Liver Disease recently, and what can be positively done to prevent or reverse many of these conditions. He also discusses those described as TOFI – Thin on the Outside, Fat on the Inside – who can be equally at risk. So, reviewing our diet is not just about dropping weight to look trim, it’s more significantly about achieving metabolic health for the long term, irrespective of the number of visible extra kilos people may be carrying.
Helping people reach their health goals, particularly healthy weight management and greater metabolic health, gives me great joy. Not just because they look and feel fantastic, but because it also builds their self-efficacy – the notion that they can actually make positive changes, and that it is perfectly reasonable to prioritise themselves in a world where that is not typical.
Particularly for women, and especially for women who are in the sandwich generation of caring for children and ageing parents simultaneously. Not to mention having menopause thrown in the mix as well! It’s a tough gig.
Everybody is different, and implementing what nutrition and other strategies work well individually, not only helps women transform their bodies, it can also help reduce chronic illness and menopausal symptoms, restoring health and vitality.
Be kind to yourself, please prioritise self-care without guilt.
You’re only helpful to everybody else if you remain on top of your own mental and physical health.
Bring on 2021!
If you would like support in reaching your critical goals, please reach out for a complimentary Discovery Coaching call to establish if we’re a good match. I can be contacted through this WEBSITE or by email HERE.
About the Author – Catriona Anderson is a Coaching Psychologist and Optimal Health Coach who has supported peoples’ personal and professional development for over three decades. Her expertise includes career transition, leadership development and proactive self-care and optimal health. Her style is empathic, practical.