Bring on the tears…
(I know… an odd topic for a “Keep it Happy” blog… bear with me…)
At the start of lockdown I wanted to take some supplies over to my parents and spent some time arguing with myself about whether the children should come too.
They desperately wanted to go, and my parents would love to see them, but I worried that in reality, it would just be a huge upset for everyone to be so near but so distant. Not to be able to have the usual welcome hugs would feel all wrong, especially at a moment when it felt we really needed it. A sad realisation of what we had lost, even if only temporarily.
Worse still, along with the upset, would be the stress of trying to hide that from each other and bear this sad and strange situation invisibly - holding it all in, smiling brightly, fighting back tears to make sure we don’t cause more upset to those we love.
I decided I couldn’t put us all through all that and I would go on my own. The children could continue to see their grandparents on a screen… everyone shielded and happy.
“But would it be so bad?” I argued back to myself.
In truth, we already knew we were upset about this situation being faced by so many families at this time, so to shed a few tears about it would hardly be revealing any secrets, and maybe it would even be good for us.
I’ve read several articles over the years about the benefits of a having good cry. In humans, crying is a natural response to emotions, and it’s what sets us aside from other animals. Research has shown that crying can sooth us, and is important to restore emotional equilibrium. The physical act of shedding tears actually releases “feel good” chemicals in our bodies, eases muscle tension caused by upset and worry, and can relieve stress.
All this is quite lucky, because I am prone to a little weep here and there: the London Marathon (watching not doing), the Olympics (ditto), Disney films (most films in fact), any TV programmes where people have been brave, fought against the odds, won, lost - you get the drift! I think it’s an age thing, and seemed to change after I had children! Several of my friends have reported the same so I don’t think it’s just me but it’s good to let the emotions flow. I also think it’s important for children to understand that adults find things tough or feel bad sometimes too, but it’s ok, we can get through it, and acknowledging, facing and sharing those feelings makes it easier.
And there’s something else too…
Before all this happened, we know that sadly many people were already lonely and isolated from the human contact that we know is so essential. Now we need to reach out in a different way and there is always something we can do.
Like the story about the group of school children in Stalybridge who, at the start of all this, sang to people in sheltered housing accommodation on the other side of their playground. They put a sign up to 'Watch this space at 2pm’ and when the time came, and the residents looked out of their balconies and windows, the children sang out to them. It was such a poignant and lovely moment at a time of fear and uncertainty.
Seeing the delight and appreciation on the faces of those residents brought on the tears for me, and if it that story did the same to you, then I hope you let that tear go and another one or two more perhaps. We are all going through a challenging and uncertain time and it’s ok to feel what we are feeling and to let the tears flow if they come, I really think it helps.
I’m sorry Great British Stiff Upper Lip, you are in lockdown, these are unprecedented times!
Oh and in the end I did decide to take my children to deliver the shopping to my parents. To wave, and smile, and feel sad, and have a cry if needed, because we would very soon feel better, remember the smiles and happiness of seeing them, and be so glad that we went.
We came home and had a treat… there might not have been any toilet rolls in the supermarket that week but there were profiteroles!
Deborah Stephenson, trainee Ollie Coach
I’m not a scientist or a doctor, I can’t make a vaccine or heal the sick, but I was a BBC radio journalist for more than 20 years with a huge interest in mental wellbeing and how our minds work. I’m also a Mum of two, and I’m currently in training with the pioneering Ollie School specialising in child coaching and wellbeing, so maybe there is something I can do…
To get in contact with Deborah, email firstname.lastname@example.org
To find out more about Ollie and his Super Powers and how to become an Ollie Coach go to www.ollieandhissuperpowers.com