I love September – always have. It feels like a nice giant refresh button! Maybe a second year into the pandemic, more than usual. Perhaps things haven’t turned out as you had hoped, perhaps you’ve felt worried and anxious and looking ahead it doesn’t feel like it will get better…. But right now – this fizzy air is telling us that a new season is coming, wherever we are. We are slowly adapting and adjusting. It feels like there is a new energy and I love the idea of starting fresh with new ideas, new objectives, new ways of doing things…

Maybe this September feels very different… we are sending our children back to school, perhaps with trepidation and anyone starting university or returning to workplace offices is facing a very different environment. It can feel challenging to think about new beginnings amidst such uncertainty. Some of us have lost work and some fear yet more potential changes the autumn and winter might bring….

We need fresh energy. Throughout the pandemic we have been drawing on  energy to help us to cope and survive. It’s what’s called surge capacity. Surge capacity is a collection of adaptive systems — mental and physical — that humans draw on for survival in acutely stressful situations, such as natural disasters. But natural disasters occur over a short period, even if recovery is long. Pandemics are different — the disaster itself stretches out indefinitely. This is what can make it seem so hard to feel like this is a new beginning.

Yet, now, more than ever, it’s time to really embrace the uncertainty, learn to live with risk and build resilience.

whether to post on social media, engage in conversation or debate, amount of news consumption, mindless scrolling, amount of exposure to all of this, wellbeing actions, thoughts, writing, acts of kindness, involvement with community
doing something kind to help someone, acceptance of current reality, choosing mindfulness, refraining from reacting, choosing a better response, letting go
other people’s opinions, what people say, what people post on social media, whether someone wears a mask or not, government guidelines, government policy, politicians. what is happening in other countries

This really does mean only placing our energy into the things that we CAN control about a situation. When we do this, we not only feel better instantly but we actually can start to exert some influence into the very things we cannot control. It can requires huge effort sometimes  – it is often so much easier to compulsively check the news, worry about the uncertainty and focus on it. I know because I do it too!

What does it take to persevere and succeed, not just in our careers but in all aspects of our lives? For psychologist Angela Duckworth, the answer can be summed up in one concept: grit. She explains the ingredients in grit and the experiences that make one person persist where another gives up — and offers concrete steps to instil grit early in life and sustain it.

Most of our wellbeing is in our hands. It may sound slightly controversial to say but it’s never the situation that is causing us stress or anxiety but rather our chosen response to it. We really can learn how to respond and choose where to place our energy. Daily wellbeing is a necessity and not a luxury. Deciding to walk, journal, connect with others, be still, create healthy boundaries, seek and find joy, take action and look after ourselves are all things we can make into daily habits which can make a huge difference.

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