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22 May 2022

Groundhog Day - monthly wellness with Roscrea's Emma Coonan

Groundhog Day - monthly wellness with Roscrea's Emma Coonan

Emma Coonan is an Accredited Psychotherapist with IAHIP and ICP, Lectures in Psychotherapy, and is a qualified Adult Education Trainer

With the announcement last week that many of the final pandemic restrictions will be coming to an end, there is a sense of old routines coming back to life, and new experiences to be enjoyed on the horizon.

February is also often associated with the tradition of Groundhog Day, and so as February draws to a close, I found myself reflecting on this latest development, wondering if this really is the end.

After many months of repeated restrictions, this is perhaps not the first time we have hoped to move forward, but instead seemed to find ourselves living in our own collective Groundhog Day.

This term Groundhog Day (spoiler alert) originates from the movie of the same name where the character Phil, played by Bill Murray, was forced to live the same day over and over and over again.

As we watch Bill Murray’s character Phil re-live this seemingly insignificant day, we observe his utter sense of frustration and hopelessness grow. After much exasperation Phil however starts to slow down, begins to re-assess what really matters to him, and determines to make positive changes for his life and those around him.

Embracing Our Lockdown Stories

Many people might recognise a kindred spirit in Phil, and feel like they too have shared many of his experiences, both positive and negative, over the past two years. This tale suggests that when we slow down to appreciate what’s happening around us, we can begin to connect with what is really important to us.

The lockdowns for many became an opportunity to reassess what really matters, and for many an opportunity to develop new stories. Some people discovered a newfound appreciation for the simple things in life, learnt to slow down a little, developed new skills, or took up new hobbies.

As we look forward to brighter days ahead, it will be important to consider what happens next in our own stories. Returning to ‘normal’ might not mean a return to exactly how it was before. For many, these newfound appreciations, skills, or hobbies are things we feel we would like to continue into the future.

Taking some time to think about how to embrace the things we’d like to keep from our lockdown stories, can help us to bring them into the next phase of this journey.

Making room for these new perspectives can support us to create a new ‘normal’ that is unique just for us.

A New Chapter

As the Groundhog Day story ends we don’t know what Phil does next. While we hope that he holds onto his newfound appreciation for life, we can’t see what happens. However, we can see what happens next in our own lives, and we can take steps to play an active part in writing the next chapter of our own stories.

Any period of change and transition can be difficult, and new perspectives can quickly get lost as things begin to return to normal. This is because we are adaptable creatures, often quick to adapt to what is happening around us.

In the same way that Phil might have gone back to his old ways as soon as he left Punxsutawney, we could find ourselves leaving behind the new habits and appreciations that have served us so well over the last number of weeks and months.

While embracing the parts of our lockdown stories we want to keep can help us to recognise them, taking an active role in making space for them can help to ensure that we can keep these supportive habits in the face of new routines. Making this space can help us to weave the things that have come to really matter to us into the fabric of our lives, and bring our newfound wellbeing routines into the next chapter.

A final thought...

For some, there may still be concern that the long shadow of winter could continue before we see brighter days ahead. As we approach the next chapter, it will be important to continue to make space to write our own story, at our own pace, as best we can.

Reflecting on the things we would like to take with us into this next chapter can help us to hold onto the things that really matter to us. Making space for both the old and the new can mean that we get to experience the new, while also continuing to enjoy the old, looking forward to brighter days ahead.

Emma Coonan is an Accredited Psychotherapist with IAHIP and ICP, Lectures in Psychotherapy, and is a qualified Adult Education Trainer. After leaving Coláiste Phobal Roscrea, Emma studied English and Media in Maynooth University, before combining her Psychotherapy training with experience in the corporate world. Emma focuses on applying Psychotherapy practices for everyday living, through developing resilience, stress response, and mindfulness practice.

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