The emotional and psychological impact of the fires on wellbeing is a very real thing, amongst us all ...
Emotions can be very heightened through this bush fire time. No more so than those living amongst the fires and I don't think there is anyone whose heart isn't breaking right now, for everyone affected, and for our wildlife and our country.
Worry, stress and fear are common emotions and responses to everything we are hearing and being surrounded by. And if you are someone who has lived previously through a disaster or major castastrophe or tragedy of any kind, then you may find that your own emotions are heightened even more. You may be feeling more stressed and anxious, grief may resurface even in a vivid and unexpected way. It's not abnormal to feel this way. It's very common for images that we might see on social media or through the news, to evoke memories or visions that may be triggering, even if it's a different experience than we're seeing to something of our own.
If you are feeling this way at all, know you not alone, and it can be a very normal response. It's okay to feel however you feel, and it's also very wise to talk things through with someone, and to ask for support or to do things that feel supportive for you, too.
There is a lot of heaviness around us all, right now. Many people feel helpless. Many people want to support and don't know how. Many people feel overwhelmed and uncertain about the future. And there are so many who are feeling the emotional affects, without being in the thick of it, or not even knowing anyone directly affected, but with sensitivity to the heightened fear and sorrow that surrounds us. Or perhaps they've had an expereince in their own lives, and it's brought up a lot of trauma and unexpected feelings.
I know this personally for myself, at times like these. It's been at the forefront of my mind and in my heart, not only as supportive health professional, but as a human being who knows the impact of trauma and tragedy, and how at times like these, we can feel a deeper sense of urgency, empathy and compassion. We want to do all that we can, because we know how it feels to live through something so challenging and the suffering and pain, even if it's in a different context, or lived experience of our own.
A huge part of being a compassionate human being is having an awareness and understanding of our own emotions, and why we feel the way we do, and to know to check in with ourselves, for our own wellbeing. When we have this level of self awareness and we show compassion for ourselves, we can then be fully present with others, and have the capacity to give so much more of ourselves, and be of most valuable support.
I wouldn't be a supportive coach, counsellor or health practitioner if I didn't check in with my own emotions and care for my own wellbeing. There is no true support in bringing any of my own self emotions into someone else's lived experiences. It's one of the reasons why self care and self compassion is so important to me. It's absolutely necessary to be self aware, to care for ourselves, so that we can truly care and support others. To be with someone, within the truth of their lived experience, and truly acknowledge their feelings as valid, without anything to do with our own selves at all.
It's the same with supporting a friend or family member or colleague. Be aware of how you're feeling, and why, and if you take the time to care for yourself, you'll be of more valuable support to others. Your relationships will be more enriched and healthier because of it.
Stress affects our minds and our bodies in many ways, it can feel different for us all. We may not notice signs or symptoms at first, and feelings may creep up on us in ways we don't expect. But if you're noticing any subtle changes or differences within yourself, then I urge and encourage you to support yourself right now, in whatever ways that might be. And to really know that it's normal for you to be feeling this way, you're not alone, and however you do feel, it's okay.
Take the time to do whatever you need to do, and is right for you, to support yourself.
If this resonates, you might find it wise to limit the time you spend on social media, or even take yourself off it, for now. It's okay if you're not up to date wtih all the fire information and if you're not constantly knowing what's exactly going on and where. You don't need to be uninformed, but there are many ways to still stay well informed and not have to be switched on to news channels or twitter or facebook lives throughout the day. Perhaps you could ask a friend or family member to just keep you updated, or check the updates less frequently, or subscribe to just one way of receiving infomation that feels okay for you.
Similarly, take care of the images and videos you watch and take in. Certain images can trigger heightened emotions, so it might be wise to not watch things online right now, or read the papers. Listening to the radio or news podcasts might feel okay for you.
Talk things through with someone. Tell someone how you're feeling. Whether it's a family member or a friend. Or if you know within yourself that you need some external professional support, then don't hestiate to reach out. If you know your mental health is affected, put yourself and your wellbeing first. Support is available in many ways. There are also national help lines and websites that are supportive at this time within our community -
Lifeline 13 11 14
Grief Line 1300 845 745
Beyond Blue 1300 224 636
Please don't feel you are alone in however you might be feeling. There are many people who feel heightened emotions, for all kinds of reasons. All are valid and to acknowledge how we feel is important. It can be exhausting, emotionally drainging, and overwhelming at these times. It's not abnormal for people living with smoke haze for days on end to feel the affects on wellbeing and mental health too.
And if you know of someone you think may be struggling right now, reach out to them and have a conversation. We all experience things around us in different ways. Perhaps you've noticed that they're reacting more than usual, or they're angry, or they're just not themselves. Perhaps they're finding it hard to make decisions, they're often more tired than usual, or they've become withdrawn. Talk to them and encourage them to ask for the support they need. Ask them how you can help. Put them in touch with someone or encourage them to do things to support themselves and their welbeing.
If at any time you're concerned about yourself or those you know, reach out. Support is available. You are not alone.
My thoughts and my heart are with everyone and everything affected and impacted by the fires.
May we all care for one another, look out for one another, and just be there for one another, and for others in our communities, in all the ways we can. Caring for others wellbeing, as well as our own. We must not forget our own self care and wellbeing.
If this feels supportive in any way, or to someone you know, then please do share. And I'm also here to talk with anyone, for extra support at this time and always. Please don't hesitate to send me an email.
If you'd like to receive regular 'Letters of Support', then you can sign up through this link and recieve my free ebook too.
Katie Jane is a Life Coach, Health Coach, Counsellor, Nutritionist, Naturopath, Holistic Psychologist, Mentor, Writer, Meditation teacher. She has been working in the wellness industry for over 15 years and brings all of these qualifications and skills, along with her own lived experiences through challenges, changes and transitions. Katie works with clients in private practice in Melbourne, as well as online and over skype to other parts of the globe. Her approach to life and wellbeing is truly holistic and unique for each individual. She supports and coaches clients to make powerful changes in their hearts and in their lives.