I know you have a lot on your mind right now, so I’ve written this blog to help you stay physically and psychologically well and safe.
“In times of great stress or adversity, it’s always best to keep busy, to plough your anger and your energy into something positive.”Lee Iacocca
A few weeks ago, staying home might have seemed like a fun thing to do. Now, as the reality of the Covid crisis sinks in, we are all worried and stressed – it is clearly no holiday!
You may be experiencing a range of different emotions in yourself and those close to you. Feelings of fear, concern and anxiety are typical. You may feel angry or disappointed at people who seem to be flaunting the rules. You may feel sad or distressed about elderly or vulnerable family members who are alone, and you may doubt that it will ever be normal again.
I can’t promise you loo rolls or certainty. However, I’m suggesting a few practical tips to help you to not just cope but thrive as we all navigate this uncharted territory and work to create a new normality.
Here are five things to consider, – the last one is a list of practical things you can do relatively easily.
Focus on the things you can control
(and put your time and energy into these)
- Get up at your usual time. Shower and get dressed!
- Create a new daily plan and rhythm (see number 4 below for ideas)
- Stop frequently checking your devices, it’s stressing you out! Decide when you will check your emails, messages and news-feeds and stick to your plan.
Look after yourself
- Be kind to yourself. Give yourself permission to feel what your feel, you are human.
- Breathing exercises have a calming effect and help relieve stress and anxiety. Try the 4:2:4 method (breath in for 4 seconds, hold for 2, and breath out for 4).
- Plan some exercise – but if you go outside keep well away from other people.
- Be more mindful and appreciative. Notice (hear, see, smell) flowers, bees, squirrels, birds, sunshine, blossom, pets, fields, trees etc.
- Rest and sleep. Don’t feel guilty, take a nap when you need to. Anxiety and stress can make you tired. Rest helps you recover and builds resilience.
Get/stay in touch with people (remotely)
- This is a great opportunity to re-connect with people you may have lost contact with!
- Ask how they are. Laugh, make small talk and be interested in how they are coping.
- Keep a positive internal and external mantra. Avoid perpetuating a sense of helplessness and colluding with how bad things are. My dad told me that an undertaker knocked on his door to ask directions. My dad’s response was “you’re a bit early mate, but if you want to take some measurements while you are here, it will save you time when you come back in a few weeks”. They both laughed.
Create a new daily timetable.
Make a plan, a new daily rhythm. Write it down. It can be small things such as:
- Phone a friend or have face-time with someone.
- Exercise. Plan to walk, run or cycle, or you could try Joe Wicks YouTube Sessions which include a variety of free exercise programmes for all abilities.
- Plan your meals for the day. Be creative! Try something you haven’t cooked before.
- Build in break times, rest times and treats (but go easy on the biscuits and cakes!)
- Do some gardening, DIY jobs, de-cluttering or housework
- Plan a leisure activity such as reading, hobbies, interests, or a jigsaw. Even trashy TV can help relieve your stress and act as a reward for doing some of your ‘jobs’!
Some practical things you can do now
- Decide to be grateful for what you have. This is not about material things. It refers to, for example, your family, friends, pets, garden or your health. Some people find it helpful to keep a gratitude journal and record what they are grateful for every day. If this is you, there are some beautiful journals available to order on-line.
- Do something new: Try drawing, painting, bird spotting, crosswords, puzzles. Take up yoga, learn to play an instrument or learn a language. You can do many of these things for free on the internet. To get you started I like sites such as: 30 Days of Yoga With Adriene, https://www.butterflyspanish.com/ and many more!
- Plant something – even seeds in a pot on the windowsill will help you to feel optimistic as you water them, wait and watch them grow.
- Go for a walk, if possible, in open space away from people. Even in urban environments, notice the spring flowers popping up. Hear the birds tweeting. Watch dogs playing, squirrels busying themselves, cows grazing, or pigeons cooing to win a partner. Noticing such things is a form of mindfulness and helps you feel calm and appreciative.
- Enjoy the sunshine (when there is some!). This can be as simple as noticing and appreciating the sun bursting through the windows or go outside and feel it warm your skin and clothes.
- Make a list of things that you have been meaning to do for some time. Each day you can tackle something on your list. My favourite tip is to strike out what you have done like this but leave it visible on the list. This helps you feel useful and productive and gives a real sense that you are moving forward with things.
- Make a list of treats or nice things to do for each day. When you feel particularly overwhelmed or anxious, you can choose a treat from your list and remind yourself that this is short-term, things will improve in time. Examples include having a nice hot drink in your favourite cup, reading a novel, doing a jigsaw, bake/cook something, phone, Skype or face-time a friend.
Whether you choose to do some of these suggestions or other ideas of your own, the key is to write it down in your plan. This helps you commit to it.
Adjusting to and coping with the new arrangements for social distancing and self-isolation is hard for us all. Change is notoriously hard everyone. But as we begin to create a new normal, we will begin to feel a sense of coming through the tunnel into the light again.