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Wellbeing Livecast – The Covid Dilemmas

Posted: 20/06/20

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centre for Specialist Psychological Therapies at Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) has been running wellbeing livecasts.

Each week, staff are invited to join a livecast which covers a specific topic. Clinical psychologist and clinical lead for Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) Steve Jefferis discussed understanding the pushes and pulls of work in the time of the pandemic.

“Staff at the Centre for Specialist Psychological Therapies have been offering consultations to support staff wellbeing, and from those conversations we can hear some themes about experiences of work during Covid-19. Quite quickly, two things became clear. First, although we are in unique circumstances in our work situations, there are common experiences and patterns in how we are finding our work. Secondly, it seems to be helpful to name and describe those experiences, and find we are going through similar things; it can be helpful to share our struggles.

“The Covid struggles list” http://tinyurl.com/CovidStrugglesMay2020 helps us understand some of the common patterns we’re experiencing.

A number of dilemmas can arise as a result of these struggles:

• Rush or reflect – There is so much pressure to get things decided and done now, it can feel necessary to rush into things without thinking it through. However, stopping and reflecting can bring a fear that we might then be too late.
• Overwhelmed – The volume of information and instructions changes so quickly, and different sources conflict. It can be too much and we can either cut off from the flow of information (but something important might get missed) or immerse ourselves in it (but get exhausted again)
• If we put ourselves first we feel guilty. We might know we need to put ourselves first e.g. by having downtime, or protecting ourselves better from risks, but it’s a crisis and if we do that we may feel guilty (or the organisation might make us feel like that)
• Work v. home – people are split between work and home. It’s common to feel like we’re neglecting work if we concentrate on our home life and vice versa
• Are you a hero? – being told we’re a ‘hero’ can lead to pressure to be good all the time and not allowed to make mistakes; or we don’t feel like a hero and feel overlooked, left out or guilty that we can’t do more

“These dilemmas all have something in common. We often feel they have two polar opposite choices and there’s no middle ground. Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) looks at finding the “exit” – the way out of the dilemma. Is there a way to find a middle path – or to zoom out and look at the bigger picture?

“It’s important to remember that we’re all going through this together and may be experiencing similar feelings. We might deal with it differently, but a bit of self-compassion can go a long way.”

You can listen to all our wellbeing livecasts on the CNTW YouTube channel