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Radical acceptance can help when life feels out of control

It’s been a week, right?

There’s only so many times we can say nice things and tell you it’s all going to be ok, so this week we reached out to Prof Debra Rickwood, a mental health professional and a much-loved member of the Business Chicks community. We needed some words from someone who knows what they’re talking about. Here’s what Debra said …


It’s being called pandemic fatigue or burn-out.

We’re over it.

We’re done.

We don’t want to deal with this anymore.

We want to go back to normal.

We want our lives back.

But it’s not done with us. And we don’t know when it will be.

We’re starting to feel like it will never end and we’re really anxious that this might be the case and don’t know where things are heading. And we’re sick of finding ways to deal with it – we’re done with baking, redecorating, Zoom dates, entertaining kids, Facetime instead of face-to-face, and cancelling holidays and plans.

One of the worst things you can do to a person is take away their sense of control. But that is what we are all experiencing right now – feeling like we have no control over many aspects of our lives. It makes us angry at everything and everyone, because we don’t know who to blame, and we feel despondent and a bit helpless at the same time.

So, what can we do when we are all pretty worn out? Something we can do has been called radical acceptance. We can acknowledge our fears, anxiety, and frustration; accept them as real, normal and valid; and not push hard against what we can’t change.

It can help to make a list of what you can and cannot control right now. Focus on what you can have an impact on and let go of the rest.

I can control and will focus on:

  • Turning off the news and social media
  • My own social distancing and wearing a mask
  • Getting vaccinated (hopefully – depending on your age!)
  • Being kind
  • Keeping perspective and a positive attitude – being grateful for the good things in my life
  • Reading more books

I cannot control and will let go of:

  • Other people’s behaviour
  • How much toilet paper is in the shops
  • How long this will last

Stay strong. This too shall pass … in time. And seek professional help if it all gets too much.

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