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COVID-19: The male perspective

Date: May 5, 2020
Author: PHIL WORRAD, RAMHP Coordinator

People respond to these Covid-19 days differently. Some embrace the opportunity to slow down and others get cabin fever. Personally, I’m valuing the additional time to ponder life. I have, however, discovered that there is danger with pondering.

Let me share with you one of my ponderings gone too far. The background context is that about a year ago I left a job because it was made untenable for me to stay. So, my thinking went something like this: I love my job; I am truly fortunate; much happier than in my last job; the last job was good once; why can’t people treat others as they’d like to be treated; some people ruin others’ lives to get what they think is their birthright. The world is full of trogs.

The first thing I realised about where my chain of thought had taken me was that I was angry. I remember thinking that I love my job. Then I wondered: should I see a psychologist – don’t want to. Talk to my wife – she knows already. Beer with a mate – can’t. Right, back to basics: exercise, fresh air, water and a sensible sleep time.

So I exercised, got fresh air and I drank water. Yesterday, I exercised to my favourite dance music in the kitchen. That was fun. Then I walked. I walked so far, I felt like Rocky Balboa. Last night, I woke and could barely carry myself to the toilet without falling. My wife asked; “What’s wrong?” “Nothing.” (Liar). “You sure?” “I love my job. Night.”

Covid-19 affects people differently. I think a lot. If I’m not aware, previous hurts can lead me to a ‘darker’ version of my true self. I fabricate imaginative scenarios that portray met-out justice (that’s another way of saying revenge) that do not align with my core values. Hurt and loss can do that. Negative thinking does not lead to anywhere good. What to do?

When you recognise a fundamental negative change in your self-talk, a Copernican-like shift in thinking is necessary. Firstly, remember who you truly are. Secondly, acknowledge that trogs are out there. Their problems are their own. Finally, don’t allow the trogs to continually steal your joy. You have a life to live so get your head back to where it needs to be. I reckon that these simple measures can be applied to any cause of negative thinking:

Firstly, you are who you truly are

Secondly, you are not your pain, grief, adversity or your job

Finally, allow yourself to be joyous. Life is good.

There has been a lot of change imposed upon us this year: drought, fires, floods, Covid-19, Government restrictions, isolation and (for about 700,000) lost employment. We can carry these stressors heavily. Change may have unexpectedly jolted our perspective of others. It may have shaken our understanding of our very selves. We must remember that we can find meaning, even joy, in the most hopeless and hurtful of situations.

I read somewhere that the Chinese word for crisis consists of two characters. One means ‘danger’ and the other ‘opportunity’. During the difficult days, I find it is helpful to practice goodness. Be the first to say g’day, respond to abruptness with kindness and acknowledge that some people are struggling with who they are too. Be respectful to others, especially the trogs because they do not deserve it. Be respectful to yourself.

If your regular routine for wellbeing has unexpected changed, establish a new, healthy pattern for your days. Our mental health is strongly affected by regular routines. Routines help us to get organised and they give us a sense of purpose.

Do the basics: get up at a set time, do your morning routine as usual, have a breakfast and get dressed. Set a time for exercise. Some routines involve other people. Establish family mealtimes, eat as a family at the table instead of in front of TV, Skype or Zoom some mates for a beer. Some routines you can do alone. Download ‘Spotify’ on your phone and find your favourite dance music.  Download ‘Plum Village’ for meditation. And keep looking forward; most people are good, life is good, better days are coming. Do things in moderation – he says to himself!

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