Looking up in lockdown

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We’ve just had R U OK? Day and, as lockdown seems to lag on, I think we’ve all become pretty familiar with having the ‘bad days’.

On one of my own bad days, as I was going for a short drive (disclaimer: less than 5kms away, to get groceries), I drove past a bus shelter with an ad by Lifeline which said ‘Hold Onto Hope’.

The fact that Lifeline is currently using public advertising space to spread this message shows how aware they are that Australians need to hear that message right now. I think they are spot on.

On the one hand, we are a tough nation.

“Having both compassion for ourselves AND holding onto hope is kind of like balancing on a tightrope.”

Just think of the way our country was formed. We are a penal colony that was built from blood, sweat and tears of convicts, living in the harshest conditions in the unforgiving Australian terrain.

Our bushland is no quaint, English countryside and you’re basically signing up for full body lacerations from a simple bushwalk.

Even the noise our native birds make is harsh; the screech of the cockatoo or the hysterical laughter of the kookaburra … maybe those two birds are reflective of us right now; swinging from screeching at others to bouts of hysterical laughter because it’s either that or hysterical crying.

The Boutros family of St Joseph’s Maronite Church, Croydon Park, praying a daily novena at home to St Mary of the Cross MacKillop to bring an end to the current COVID crisis.
They are George and Rafka Boutros with their children Ava, Christopher, Veronica, John-Luke, Sophia and Amelia. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

On the other hand, sometimes the ‘she’ll be right mate’ attitude can be a little overdone on the barbie in Australia and the ‘I don’t want to be a drama queen, others have it harder than me’ can play in our minds.

No. Wait. Pause. You ARE having a tough time. This IS a tough time for our country too. We need to give ourselves permission to feel negative emotions and to actually show ourselves a teensy-weensy bit of compassion. It’s Ok to NOT be ok sometimes.

But at the same time…we need to hold onto hope.

This can be a tricky combo at times; and we can be tempted to swing from just ‘sucking it up’ to feeling like ‘nothing will get better’.

“…holding onto hope is really hard. The reason? Because it’s scary. Because to have hope means you are vulnerable, you’re opening your heart to potentially have it crushed, yet again.”

Having both compassion for ourselves AND holding onto hope is kind of like balancing on a tightrope.

The truth is, holding onto hope is really hard. The reason? Because it’s scary. Because to have hope means you are vulnerable, you’re opening your heart to potentially have it crushed, yet again. It’s a risky business, this hope thing.

So if you’re open to a bit of risk, how do we actually ‘hold onto hope’ in our daily lives?

 

Pat Knight from Ephpheta playing bingo with the craft group during the Sydney lockdown. PHOTO: Ephpheta Centre
Pat Knight from Ephpheta playing bingo with the craft group during the Sydney lockdown. PHOTO: Ephpheta Centre

Here’s a few quick tips to help feed your soul hope:

  1. Let it out:

Give yourself permission, time and space to feel sad and angry (put a timer on if you have to!). You could try writing a letter to yourself / to God / to a friend, where you acknowledge the pain you’re in and then provide empathy for yourself.

  1. Back to basics:

Make a goal to stop checking COVID stats and depressing world news for a few days. Fill up that time instead with something cheesy, goofy and soul lifting. We need to be aware of what’s going on but we don’t need to be consumed by it. There’s a reason ‘cat videos’ were some of the most popular things to watch on YouTube – it might be time to revisit that craze, as humour often paves the way to hope.

  1. Foster hope in yourself:

Write an uplifting ‘note to self’; use the word hope somewhere in it and stick it somewhere you’ll see every day.

“I started a virtual bonding experience for mums and daughters in lockdown. There’s a few things like this out there including DIY pamper kits and virtual events.”

  1. Foster hope in loved ones:

If you’re in a lockdown area, consider a virtual experience that is uplifting and even involves someone else. As part of my own business, I started a virtual bonding experience for mums and daughters in lockdown. There’s a few things like this out there including DIY pamper kits and virtual events.

  1. Build up bite-sized moments of hope:

Download a few helpful Apps to have check in points:

  • Uplifting/Motivational Quotes Apps: there’s a whole host of them out there which give you daily bits of inspiration
  • Gratitude Apps: there’s some free, some paid, including ones that have daily gratitude diaries to appreciate the simplest of things – studies show that practicing gratitude improves mental health and our outlook on life.
  • The Hallow Prayer App: A fantastic way to put bite sized chunks of prayer into your day, gain perspective, feel heard by God or just to feel uplifted with spiritual music (our faith certainly plays a huge part in keeping us balanced on the ‘hope plus compassion’ tightrope).