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The time when we need gratitude the most

One day, life will be back to normal. That normal may be different from before, but not necessarily in a negative way. The shops will open, restaurants will be serving our favourite meals and we will be able to purchase necessities at will. Annual vaccination appointments will be booked in, routine surgeries will be part of the schedule again and whole families will come into the consult room.

We are so limited as to what we can control in these circumstances, but our mindset and actions are one of them. Sometimes we all have that negative voice in our head that predicts disaster; running a movie on repeat. Much of what that voice tells us has come from the media, social media, friends, family and films. Our brain does not know the difference between something which we have witnessed, and something which we have imagined. Watching and believing the future movies in our head, leads to physiological changes as if we have just taken part in real life; there is no wonder that so many are stressed when our brain is forecasting life to turn into a Black Mirror episode. Please remember, thoughts are not facts, just possibilities and not necessarily true. We have to be sensible, act according to guidelines and use our epidemiological knowledge to set examples to the rest of the public. We can only control what we do in “the now”.

We have a choice here. We either put all of our energy into how much of a disaster the COVID19 situation is, or we try to look for the good. Personally, I am taking this as an opportunity to realise how sucked into the trivialities of life I had become. I never gave conscious appreciation that I could go to the shop whenever I pleased and buy supplies without worry. I took for granted going to visit my elderly relatives, and perhaps did not do it as much as I should have. I miss visiting the gym, but now will feel so much more grateful when I return to working out whenever I like. I have never felt more lucky to have the NHS.

Let’s try to see the good. Let’s work together and keep each others’ spirits up. We are living in a time of global emergency, but this is the time that we need gratitude the most. Use it as a time to reconnect. Pick up the phone and speak to the friend you hadn’t been in touch with for a while, Skype call your family, disconnect from social media and talk to your loved ones.

If you want to read a good book, check “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl. The author chronicles his experiences as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps during World War II, and describes his psychotherapeutic method, which involved identifying a purpose in life to feel positive about, and then immersively imagining that outcome. Frankl noted those who remained happy; if it is possible in the Holocaust, it is definitely possible now.

Sometimes in darkness is when we re-discover our light.



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