Wellness Wednesday: Coping in Interesting Times

Stay Well at Home

University of Kent Occupational Health and Wellbeing Manager, Brenda Brunsdon

There is a phrase that is known to many of us: ‘May you live in interesting times’.  As it is recounted to us, it is referred to as an ancient Chinese proverb.  It is also described as a curse; this is because ‘interesting times’ usually mean unpredictability, change and unusual circumstances.  For most humans, such conditions mean one thing more than any other, lack of control of our destiny.  And this leads to feeling stressed and anxious.

At a substantial level, the period we are living through has all the hallmarks of unpredictability, change and unusual circumstances.  In this, it fits the definition of ‘interesting times’.  However, we are simultaneously cooped up in our homes with our mobility and liberty to move round substantially curtailed so it also represents the opposite of ‘interesting times’ and the essence of boredom.

But we can all agree that we are experiencing the stress that comes with the curse of ‘interesting times’.  Anxiety about our own and our family and friends’ health and existence is very real.

There is no single, guaranteed way to stop these feelings of anxiety.  Each of us has to approach this challenge with knowledge of ourselves and work with our strengths and weaknesses to deal with this situation.  We should be reassured that, although our emotions are unique to each of us, we are dealing with a shared problem underpinning these anxieties and it is a natural human reaction.

Here are some of the things we can all do to help ourselves through this difficult time:

  • Be kind to ourselves; we are not perfect; we will not be able to control how we feel all the time and it is okay for us to cut ourselves a little slack sometimes to express our vulnerability
  • Similarly, be kind to others and accept that they are struggling
  • To appreciate that we may come to feel very low emotionally on times and make ourselves aware of the resources we have available to help us if this happens. A list of such support provided by the University is available through this link
  • Be aware of our physical health needs and how these are closely connected to our emotional health: we need to eat healthily and sensibly; exercise when and where we can and keep physically active
  • Formulating a routine to the day helps us to feel we have regained some control over the pattern of our life and this will enhance our sense of self and wellbeing
  • Be inspired: many people feel a strong sense of emotional connection to our health and care givers in the NHS; listen to this short BBC video by the Anglican Church’s envoy, Terry Waite who endured 5 years in a brutal hostage situation to learn how he maintained his mental health throughout those difficult years

Incidentally, ‘May you live in interesting times’ is not ancient or Chinese.  It appears to be a Twentieth century adage and is probably Western in origin.  More information can be found here.

Wellness Wednesday is part of Kent Sport’s  #KentSportStayWellAtHome series of daily blogs and vlogs to keep you positive during these unusual times. To be sure not to miss our updates, Like us on Facebook and follow on Instagram and Twitter @UniKentSports – we hope you enjoy and join in!

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