So, here we are, towards the end of the U.K.’s 3-week lockdown and we are still none the wiser as to when and how these difficult times will end. I’ve gone through a range of emotions and feelings as this crisis as unfolded. From initially sceptical to overly cautious. From worrying about keeping my business going to maintaining a sense of calm and perspective. Boredom. Enjoyment. More time with the kids. Less focus. More focus. Zoom beers. Zoom business calls. Time to re-connect with friends (virtually). Even, a bit of an existential crisis thrown in, but I managed to stave that one off.
As these conflicting experiences show, it’s been a battle for me with both my inner and outer world. All in all, however, I’m a pretty unflappable character. But I do know through speaking to others that many of you are feeling either fearful, anxious, lonely, depressed, emotionally drained, uncertain or a combination of these.
And then, of course, there are those people who will take it all in their stride! If that is you, then that is wonderful. My thoughts and reflections may not be for you right now, but they might just help the next time you are faced with a crisis where you cannot just ‘ride the wave’.
So, here are some pointers as to what’s been keeping me going and steering me away from that existential crisis! (Maybe there’s something in here to help you too).
1. Social not Emotional Distancing
Most of us are doing our best to live by the ‘new rules’ but that does not mean that you cannot reach out to people (via technology) to maintain connections. This could potentially be even more important if you live alone. If you’re feeling particularly anxious or low, be sure to speak with family and friends to create greater positivity.
I’ve used these difficult times to catch up with old friends who I may not have spoken to for a long time due to the usual rhythms of life. In current circumstances, I’d suggest your old friends may love to hear from you too. What else would they be doing at the moment?
2. Create a Schedule
This will enable you to avoid the tendency to slip into laziness and malaise. It gives you a structure in which to work. It also gives you mini-goals to achieve through the course of each day. Your routine will naturally need to suit you and the family. Also, ensure that you are flexible and accept that some days you may not feel like doing anything. Don’t be hard on yourself and go back to the schedule the next day.
3. Eat (and Drink) Well
My social media is full of memes about how we’re all going to be overweight alcoholics by the end of this. That won’t happen to me, honest! But only because I’ve made this area a priority. Be mindful and conscious of what you are consuming. You could even use this time to focus on healthily regenerating your body now that the constant pressures of work and the ‘merry-go-round’ may have subsided.
4. Get Moving
Any type of exercise reduces stress levels and can enhance your mood. I’ve been maintaining my regular running schedule that I had already had in place. To be honest, it would be quite easy to slack off, but I know that I would regret that when things get back to normal. Other things you may do include fitness routines in the house, or regular walks in the neighbourhood (now that you have the time).
5. Turn off the Screens
When the Coronavirus situation kicked off, I’ll admit that I was a little bit transfixed to the news cycle. Since then, I’ve changed this around so that I only check in once or twice a day to see what is going on. I can certainly vouch that this made an instant impact on my mood and wellbeing, and research also backs this approach to dealing with all things ‘media’. Turn off the mood hoover!
6. Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Some people are overwhelmed by what is happening which creates increased anxiety. Try not to control all aspects of what is happening. So many things are not within our control and being flexible will help us to relax.
If you know people who might be particularly affected by lacking control, try to reassure them and provide perspective on the situation. For example. I have friends and family who are either autistic or who have OCD, and I am certain that just listening to their concerns has had a positive effect on them.
7. Be Thankful
Looking at the positive in a situation sometimes balance out all the concerns. Seeing the good aspects of the situation will provide you with some peace. It can also toughen your thought process so that you are able to remain positive when things start to return to normal.
I know that I am in a better position than a lot of people simply by the fact of having a garden. I also the fact that I have close family around me. It is easy to focus on the downsides but use this as an opportunity to value what you do have, and what you may have previously taken for granted.
8. Be Productive and Try Something New
I’ve been thinking about utilising these difficult times to hone my guitar skills. I should have time to do this starting next week. I’ve not picked it up in years, but it’s always been niggling in the back of my mind. You may want to pick up a musical instrument too or learn a language or meditate. Whatever it is, using this time to pursue an interest that you’ve had on the back burner will mean that you will be ready to go back to normal with more enthusiasm.
Please contact me if you feel that you could benefit from an objective viewpoint to work through these or similar issues.