Reflections on how best we could prepare ourselves emotionally and psychologically during these extraordinary and challenging of times

By a Carer Wellbeing Facilitator 

Without actively looking, an interesting article about emotional agility, by Susan David, a South African Psychologist found its way to me – I’m very glad it did. I found Susan had a way of engaging her readers and listeners with an earthy delivery style that was grounded in common sense. Indeed, I was impressed if not intrigued by her compassion based philosophy, which sounded so healing during these difficult times.  On this note, I thought I would reflect on one of her many inspiring debates, particularly as it resonated with so many aspects of caring.    

Susan drew me in, as she invited listeners to reflect on how best we could prepare ourselves emotionally and psychologically during these extraordinary and challenging of times.  On this occasion Susan’s question was primarily centred around the pandemic, and yet it begs the question ... don’t these same questions apply when we are care givers. I believe they do.

Susan talks directly around the complex relationship between the beauty of life and the fragility of life.  In terms of the pandemic, she highlights that the circumstances we all find ourselves in, are not of our making – this is not something we have asked for. Nonetheless  this Psychologist  asserts that life often calls for us to move into a place of wisdom, fortitude, solidarity, community and courage – put more simply, some would call this stepping up to the plate [sound familiar]. 

However, I would suggest whether you are a Carer, or simply trying to get by in life, getting to this place is far from easy – it would seem many of us strive to cultivate continuous joy and happiness for those around us, because [joy and happiness] are seen to be the most important of all human emotional experiences. Susan explains: 

If we overly focus on happiness as our ultimate goal, then we can in fact become less happy over time. 

Indeed Psychologists have identified that difficult emotions such as frustration, anxiety, resentment, guilt, sadness [emotions that often accompany a caring role], should not be pushed aside - nor should we get stuck in them. The idea is to step back and rather than trying to source constant happiness, we should perhaps face into our difficult emotions – the key message here, is not to belittle ourselves if we are experiencing difficult emotions.

There is no doubt we are living in tough times and caring for someone during the pandemic may have increased feelings of loneliness, powerlessness, and frustration. 

And yet, it is possible to develop strategies to enable you to be with your difficult emotions in a healthy way.

However, in my humble experience, we all need support to bring the best of ourselves forward.  That’s where talking to a Carer Wellbeing Facilitator at Gateshead Carers Association can prove helpful, furthermore we can also connect you with others who understand the day to day reality of your caring role, through our CALM group sessions. Similarly we can also connect you to the wider community in Gateshead, through our impactful Volunteering programme.   

If you would like to talk to a Carer Wellbeing Facilitator about your wellbeing, we would be delighted to hear from you – please contact Gateshead Carers Association on 0191 4900121 or click here

If you would like to explore the work of Susan David, Author and Researcher please visit