Stepping Out of a Pandemic into 2022 with Purpose and Optimism

After a pretty tough few years of uncertainty, anxiety and the need for big adjustments, for many 2022 marks the beginning of a new, happier phase. Yet we are carrying a lot of what we have been through during the pandemic that can perhaps affect our ability to jump with enthusiasm into the new year and what lies ahead!

So how can we ensure we approach this year with the best mindset and intentions that we can put into practise to create a more fulfilling and happier time? There are a few areas that might need a little consideration that may give us the best chance of success. Here are a few random observations that might be of use to our clients and to ourselves as coaches.

For many, this time has been one of extended periods of isolation and all of us have probably had too much time to talk to ourselves. When missing contact with loved ones and people to bounce ideas on, often our self-talk can turn into rumination when we focus on some of our problems and concerns. There are a few ways of checking in on whether we are supporting ourselves with the best language.

  1. Research has shown that when we talk to ourselves using first person pronoun – “I”, we will be more likely to create negative emotions, particularly if the focus is a problem. They have found that speaking about ourselves in the third person can actually be a better indication of improved performance under stress, wiser thinking and less negative emotion. Instead of “I will … do better/work harder” etc. use “Mary will … do better/work harder”. By using our names we step back emotionally, create some distance and take back control from our inner critic. We become a detached observer which is not the same as running away or avoiding the issue. This isn’t something we have to do all the time but it can help when we’re feeling nervous or wound up.
  2. Consider what lies ahead in what could be a year where we are facing potential threats to our safety, happiness or business and reframe them as challenges. This is language we use with our clients often, but sometimes forget to use it in our personal life. The emotion of anxiety is closely related to excitement and if we can reinterpret our feelings in this way it can help the way we think about a future event.
  3. Choose who you speak to. It may seem like a good idea to talk things through with another person, however it’s important to recognise that occasionally this can simply turn into co-rumination and your problems may be amplified by continuing to discuss them. (Remember how it feels when we keep re-telling a bad experience and reliving it?). Choosing the right person to talk to is the key. As coaches we are trained to respond in a way that will support and help others but not keep them stuck in self-pity or misery.

Avoiding burnout
Some people may be approaching this year feeling ill equipped to deal with what lies ahead and this can be a precursor to a sense of burnout. A couple of interesting things to know about burnout:

  1. Burnout is not the same as stress. Stress can be short lived whereas burnout is a longer process and can’t be overcome simply by rest.
  2. Ironically, only people who are committed to their work can become burnt out!
  3. Burnout is often accompanied with a sense of disillusionment or lack of control.

You can see why some of us may be a risk this year! Consequences of burnout can be quite serious with a drop in productivity and the potential for mental wellbeing to suffer.

Tips to avoid burnout

  1. Work with purpose. The new year is a good time to re-evaluate and consider what your purpose is in your work, or even in your life. What is the impact of what you’re doing and are you doing what you want to do? What is truly of value to you?
    Are you taking on too much or can you delegate or get rid of tasks that do not bring you satisfaction? If your workload is too great and you have a sense that you’ll never catch up, burnout is often not far away. In other words, take control.
  2. Maintain good lifestyle habits. Regular exercise and understanding and learning how to manage stress are all important factors in living well and fulfilling your potential, and never more important than this year.

I realise this has just touched on some very big topics but the start of a new year can be a great time to take stock, reflect on how you move forward and re-evaluate priorities.

Dealing with negative emotions

I was reminded today (thank you Margaret Moore) of the need for us all to become more adept at dealing with our sadder feelings and realise that out of bad experiences, we can experience “post-traumatic growth”. Perhaps the pandemic can help us build resilience and enjoy greater connection with others.

And a final thoughtpick a word that can become your mantra

Each year I like to choose a word that speaks to me and encourages me to live in a way that will support my wellbeing. There’s a lot of thought that goes into choosing these words and they will have a very personal meaning to each of us. This year my word is ”compartmentalise”. What’s yours?

We’ve had to deal with some very complex issues this year for both ourselves and our clients and the end result will be to take our coaching practise to a new level and regain a new appreciation of normal life.

Fiona Cosgrove, Founder & Managing Director of Wellness Coaching Australia
Mast Ex Sci; Mast Counselling, NBC-HWC