Everyone around me has stated they feel exhausted and unmotivated. This collective resounding sentiment is coming from family, friends, colleagues, and clients. I feel it too. And this is not surprising since the last three years have felt like a marathon with no finish line in sight. The world was suddenly catapulted into an unparalleled health crisis, and our lives were upended in ways we couldn’t have imagined.

Now, as we move with the COVID-19 pandemic and the reality that it is now a part of our lives, we’re facing another challenge: the pressure to return to “normal.” But what does “normal” even mean after living through such tumultuous times? For many of us, especially for highly sensitive people, the notion of bouncing back as if nothing happened seems impossible.

We’ve been collectively tossed about in waves of uncertainty, our bodies and minds on high alert, our sympathetic nervous systems working overtime. You don’t just return back to whatever “normal” is. Our sympathetic nervous system – the part of us that responds to danger – has been working overtime for the past three years. It’s like a car engine that’s been running non-stop, heating up, threatening to overheat. Now, we’re being told to shift gears and speed up when we’re already running on fumes. It’s understandable if you’re feeling exhausted, unmotivated, anxious, or depressed. If you’re feeling this way, know that you’re not alone. This isn’t about being strong or weak, but about being human. And being human means needing time to heal and recover.

Our bodies and minds have been in a prolonged state of stress, and it’s unrealistic to expect an instant return to ourselves or our lives as they used to be. And truthfully, many of us don’t want to go back to that state of “normal” because it was not working.  A lot of what was not working in our best interests became crystal clear when we were forced to stop the busyness of our lives.    

One thing I often say to my clients as a registered clinical counsellor is that, “You have every right to feel what you’re feeling. Given what you’ve been through it makes sense. And don’t let anyone else tell you different or try to talk you out of your feelings.” We’ve been through a hellish three years and it’s not really over. You’re not alone in feeling fatigued, unmotivated, anxious, or depressed. It’s a shared human experience, a constellation of emotions we’re all navigating. It’s completely natural to feel this way after three years of living through a pandemic. The world was put on pause, and now there’s a societal pressure to hit ‘play’ and carry on as if nothing happened. However, it’s crucial to remember that busying ourselves is not the answer.

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Think of it this way: imagine you’ve just run a marathon, and instead of resting, you’re asked to run another one immediately. Your body and mind need time to recover, to heal, and to recharge. That’s where we are right now, standing at the finish line of one three year long marathon, trying to catch our breath before we need to sprint again.

As a counsellor and one from human to another, I want to tell you that it’s okay to take a step back. It’s okay to prioritize rest and self-care in way that works for your life. The old adage of we cannot pour from an empty cup is truer now than ever, and busying ourselves will only exacerbate mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual concerns.

At Constellations Counselling, we acknowledge the toll that this pandemic has taken on all aspects of our lives. We understand that busying ourselves is not the answer and that rushing back to the old “normal” might exacerbate mental, emotional, and physical concerns. By meeting with a Vancouver counsellor, you will have a safe supportive space to connect the dots between your experiences, your feelings, and your needs. It’s about acknowledging where you are, respecting your journey, and compassionately guiding you towards a way of healing that is catered to you.

Here are some ideas of things you can do now to show yourself some compassion:

  1. Permission to Rest: Firstly, it’s essential to give yourself permission to rest. It’s okay to slow down, to not have everything figured out. It’s okay to take time for yourself. You’ve been through a lot, and it’s important to acknowledge that.
  2. Take a Moment for Yourself: Create a quiet space and time to simply be. It could be a walk in the park, a moment of meditation, or enjoying a cup of your favorite tea.
  3. Active Imagination: Picture one of your favourite places that feels safe and calm and stay in that imagined place for as long as you can. Invoke all your senses. What do you see, hear, smell, feel, and taste? How does your body respond to being there?
  4. Acknowledge Your Feelings: Don’t push away or ignore your feelings. If you’re feeling tired, allow yourself to rest. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s okay to take a step back.
  5. Reach Out for Support: Remember, there’s no shame in seeking help. Whether it’s a trusted friend, a family member, or a Vancouver counsellor, find someone you can talk to about your feelings. Imagine it as finding a safe harbor in the middle of a storm.
  6. Practice Self-Care: It’s not just about spa days and bubble baths (though those are great too!). Self-care is also about nourishing your body with good food, getting enough sleep, and moving your body in ways that feel good.
  7. Cultivate Mindfulness: Pay attention to the present moment without judgement. It can be as simple as noticing the warmth of the sun on your skin, the taste of your food, or the rhythm of your breath. Think of it as anchoring yourself in the here and now, a gentle reminder that you’re here, you’re alive, and you’re okay in this quiet moment.

At Constellations Counselling, we’re here to support you. As your counsellors, we’re here to provide a safe, compassionate, and understanding space for you to navigate your feelings. Remember, it’s okay to take your time. It’s okay to prioritize rest. Our bodies and minds have been through a lot, and it’s important to honor that journey.

Picture your mind and body as a garden that has weathered a long winter. Now, as we emerge from the pandemic, it’s time for spring. But remember, spring doesn’t happen overnight. The snow doesn’t instantly melt, the flowers don’t immediately bloom, and the trees don’t suddenly burst into leaf. It’s a gradual process, a gentle unfurling and awakening. The same applies to us. We need time to adjust, to heal, and to grow.

In conclusion, it’s important to remember that our feelings are valid. It’s okay to feel weary and fatigued, it’s okay to take our time, and it’s okay to prioritize rest. There’s no rush, no pressure, and you’re not alone in this journey. Reach out for support when you need it. Remember, your Vancouver counsellors at Constellations Counselling are here for you.

As we move forward one step at a time, let’s do so with compassion and understanding, acknowledging the journey we’ve been on and the resilience we’ve shown. The world might be pushing for a swift return to “normal,” but it’s okay to take it slow. Remember, healing is not a race, but a journey, and at Constellations Counselling, we’re here to walk that journey with you.

Stay safe, take care, and know, “Your feelings matter. They’re real, they’re important, and they deserve to be heard. It’s okay to feel what you’re feeling, and we’re here to honour and respect those feelings with you.”