The present challenges to our wellbeing – our quality of life – are pervasive, affecting even the simplest and most absolute aspects of day-to-day life.
Shifting to new ways of working has involved recalibrating our daily routines, sense of space, and allocation of energy. The true toll that this will take on our wellbeing is one of the biggest unknowns, though its likely to be significant.
Help, support, and ‘how-to’ offerings abound, filtering through from personal and professional networks. If the demand for wellbeing-related training is anything to go by, we know that the appetite for a personal resilience-upgrade has skyrocketed. As important as this training is, however, we should also practice a degree of caution around the volume and quality of information we consume.
Mass information about the collective experience of wellbeing is a useful reference point, but it can only go so far. To truly nurture our mental health, we need to start with an independent understanding our own stressors and motivators, essentially, what we need in order to feel like we are thriving. We need to listen for, and respond to, our physical and emotional cues with compassion; and we should be prepared to accept them without expecting that they will necessarily match the experience of others.
We know from working to solve our most intractable sustainability challenges that thinking in silos is ineffective, and this is no less applicable to our wellbeing. Our quality of life is impacted not just by our mental health, but also by social, physical, and financial factors – some or all of which are materially compromised in the present circumstances.
As ‘pivot’ has become the new modus operandi for many organisations and individuals, we have seen courage, resilience, and adaptation in abundance. Yet, we should remember that there is no precedent for what we have experienced in 2020 and the prospect of burnout looms large.
The current clamour around wellbeing represents a thirst for solutions to the creeping fatigue many feel after this unrelenting period. Complementary to upskilling our toolkit for ‘survival and coping’, we should also be thinking and talking about what it means to thrive within the current parameters.
To do this, we should balance training and external information-gathering with the time and space for introspection through whatever means resonates with us – be it via movement, time in nature, mindfulness, and so on.
We are told that the bumps in the road will continue for some time, so now is the moment to cultivate a richer understanding of ourselves without reference to others.
Going back to basics and tuning into our intrinsic values will not only benefit our mental health; it may just help us shape a life in which we are able to flourish, even in this strange moment in time.