It’s been a difficult week this week, listening to the news and the updates on coronavirus. It’s so incredibly sad and it still seems a bit unreal; how can this all be happening when 3 weeks ago we were all carrying on with our lives as normal? As a family, we have come to the realisation that we are in this for the long haul and our ‘new normal’ is likely to continue for quite some time. My husband has been furloughed and I am continuing to work from home (we are grateful that we are at home and safe). My sister’s Outpatient department in the hospital is much reduced and she is being trained to support in theatre. Anxiety has crept into our household this week and those of some of our friends and family. My son has had some difficulties getting to sleep.
So what has kept us going this week? We are continuing our daily focus on the 5 Ways to Wellbeing. Staying connected and being active is really helping us a family. We are embracing Zoom and FaceTime to connect with colleagues, family and friends on a regular basis. We have started every day with Joe Wicks’ PE lessons and we have been outside for our hour of exercise; gardening, walking or cycling. We are spending lots of time together as a family and we are feeling the well-known health and wellbeing benefits of being outside in the fresh air, moving and being together.
During our daily walks this week; it has been lovely to see so many children’s pictures of rainbows in windows, banners hung outside and drawings of hope and support for the NHS chalked onto pavements. We have spotted more and more every day. My son asked me why people are choosing to draw rainbows. We talked about rainbows having different meanings in different myths, cultures and stories over time and I explained that a rainbow can be a symbol of hope – after the storm (and the storm will always pass) there is a rainbow symbolising the end of the bad times and the promise of better times to come.
We talked more about hope which then prompted a very long conversation during one of our daily walks. My son started every other sentence with, ‘when this is all over…’ He explained how he wanted to spend his first day (when this was all over) by rushing over to see his Grannie and then his best friend and go and play with him in the park. He then talked about what he was going to do at school (when this was all over) and his hopes for the future. Sadly, he has quickly abandoned all thoughts of being a teacher and now wants to be a businessman and own his own restaurant. He asked me what qualifications he would need, whether he would need to go to university and how profits and tax work! He told me that I would be employed to do the shopping for the restaurant (wages tbc) but that I could then enjoy a free three course meal and wine every evening for dinner at the chef’s table. It sounds like a great plan! The ‘when this is all over…’ conversations have continued this week and I have wondered, are they healthy and helpful conversations? I have decided that they are; my son isn’t moaning about things he is missing, he is just looking to the future with trust and hope that things will get better and when they do, he will make the best of every single opportunity. He is also thinking about his goals and what he needs to do to achieve them (proactive hope). I have held on to the, ‘when this is all over…’ conversations this week and they have made me smile, helped me keep going and stay positive.
Hope has become one of the most robust and promising topics in the field of positive psychology. Hope has been consistently linked to positive outcomes in many life domains, including aspects of positive mental health (Rick Snyder: The Psychology of Hope -1994).
We have also continued our gratitude practice as a family and it’s already powerful to look back over the last few days in our journals and remember the simple things we have been grateful for every day. Gratitude, positivity and hope are getting us through every day as a family and are helping us to support our son to learn about and manage his own wellbeing. This is learning that hasn’t taken place in a classroom but it is invaluable learning that we hope he can take forward and make use of now and in his future.