Ups and downs are to be expected, and we must listen to what they are telling us

Not every day is the same emotionally. Nor should it be. The highs help us notice the lows, and the lows should help us to enjoy, or at least notice and acknowledge the highs. The bits in the middle typify the usual, the normal, or the run-of-the-mill days we live and work through. They are necessary as well. They give us useful perspective.

When we are under pressure, or if we aren’t getting enough pressure or pleasure, we feel overwhelmed. This year, when we are living in uncertain times, the rhythm of our highs and lows has changed. This is normal and to be expected. Lesson one.

Like many of those around me, I have noticed recently my lows may be getting more frequent and deeper. The highs are less often and lower – to boot. That’s step two in managing one’s emotional being; checking one’s barometer. Awareness and recognition are powerful tools.

“Life is a rollercoaster, just gotta ride it” sang Ronan Keating.  He was right.  But merely riding them is not simply enough.  Of course, we have to live through them.  We must.  But rather than passively journeying through them we must notice, be aware and understand them. 

Step three for me is to talk about it with others around me. Not easily done. Talking to your partner, family, and/or work colleagues is vitally important. To check-in with emotional feelings is powerful for self and helps those around you. They can feel included and informed in what is happening. But what happens next? I find as much normality as possible is the best response at this stage – for me. I don’t need anything much; not too much fuss or special treatment. What’s not good is any sense of people treading on eggshells or being too caring – if that makes sense. Some people benefit from a break when feeling like this, but for others this is the last thing they need. I may switch from one to the other. My body will tell me which way to go. What’s important is we all develop our personal knowledge about what works – for us. And that we give ourselves permission to do so. This is an issue of self-investment.

Usually these lows pass with little fuss and attention and my emotional state returns to the bit in the middle. That sense of things being okay, the routine of life. If I am lucky, a high might appear on the horizon as a useful distraction or morale booster. But as we all know, the likelihood of these occurring at the moment is reduced and we are all under enormous pressure from circumstantial events.

What happens if the low doesn’t ebb away, or it continues or deepens? What if you are indulging in unhealthy coping mechanisms or habits? Perhaps your sleep is affected too. Well, if you have spoken with those around you, then they may also be noticing this if you are lucky. And they may suggest some things to help. If not, you might need to revisit the conversations and let them know you’re still struggling and perhaps need extra support. And if that doesn’t work, then seeking professional health, wellbeing or counselling support might help or be appropriate. There are no quick fixes here, and returning from a deep low can be a longer job than many are prepared for. Longer term issues may start to manifest. And if these have been fed for decades, they will not be addressed in weeks.

Whatever, the whole ride needs to be viewed as a personal, judgement free, and open and honest journey with the aim of turning it around as best we all can.    

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