Ok, so this seems like it will be around for a while now and Im looking at ways to cope with it – there is so much out there with tips for coping, mental health and well being, Fitness but you cant do it all…. you need find what works for you but I am focusing on the below:
#1 – Limit time online / watching news and don’t believe everything you read
I have really noticed how much the media focuses on the bad – don’t get me wrong, things are pretty shite right now and we do need to know the truth, but sometimes the desire for reaction is overtaking sensibility. Programmes and articles I have regularly viewed over the years have started to really wind me up; so I have simply stopped paying attention. Why do the press need to publish sensationalised headlines, that will induce panic? For example I read one about Blackouts and how we will all be sat in darkness and freezing – however when you read the content of the article, its include statements stating the envisage no problems? Why scare everyone unnecessarily – hey, lets get everyone out there panic buying again!
We cant control whats happening and how its being reported – but we can control our exposure to it.
Have you noticed how everyone seems to be about 7 steps from a doctor? That same doctor who has published something that contradicts government advice? Or how we all seem to know a neighbour who has a brother, who has a cousin, twice removed, who met a scientist who says that standing on your head whilst singing nursery rhymes, makes you immune?
I find that focusing on reputable news sources, keeping up to date with the facts and what the government are advising, and trying not to read everything really helps me stop spiralling.
Dont get me started on the scum making up the scams – apparently the HRMC are refunding me £275 to help me survive whilst dealing with the virus…. I just need to click on a link and give them all my bank details!!
Also, a big annoyance – why do people need to use Facebook community sites to ask questions that Google could answer more quickly? “No Sharon, I don’t know when Tescos shuts, but their website does!”
#2 – Use your once a day ‘escape’…
I started running a couple of years ago, running my first (and probably last!) half marathon, the Royal Parks Half, in October last year, so being able to continue this is really helping me.
I started working from home about a week or so before the full lock down, and was alternating between going for a run and going to the gym every day. When the gym then shut (I cant believe how much I miss the gym!), it became a run every day. I live on the edge of the Chilterns so have plenty of space to go outside. When Boris made his address to the nation, the relief that we could still go outside, if only once a day, was palpable – the idea that we wouldn’t be allowed out of the house was horrendous, like the punishment of solitary confinement without having committed the crime!!!
However, I soon started to really ‘feel’ it and realised that running every day is probably not good for these old bones! I have therefore adapted – mixing up runs with doing online training or yoga in front of the TV (I have never used You Tube so much!). Yet still, on a day when I don’t run, I make sure I go outside and take a walk – sometimes whilst on work calls, or when chatting to friends to keep in touch. I often go out at 5pm to listen to the daily press briefing whilst walking around a random field!
Working from home now means it can be really hard to have a ‘work life balance’ – I don’t know what day it is most of the time, let alone whether its work time or not. I find going outside is a good way to break the day – it marks the end of work and start of downtime.
We have been lucky so far with the weather, and although I find there are lots of people around having the same idea, it seems people are taking heed of the rules and crossing roads to avoid each other. I make sure I say hello and smile, so it doesn’t look like i’m being rude! There is a real knowing look everyone gives each other!
#3 – Catch up with people
In some cases, I’m speaking to people more now than I did before – using Zoom/Facetime/Whatsapp etc…. I have an old friend who is ALWAYS trying to video call and I always decline, the look on his face when I actually answered it this time was priceless!
The reality is everyone is dealing with this differently – we are all impacted by the situation, but all in a variety of different ways. Some people need down time from home schooling, some need a break from their other half, and many others are desperate for normality. Key for everyone is to maintain a connection to the real world and what used to happen, but also what will happen again.
‘Virtually’ seeing people makes all the difference – I wouldn’t sit on the phone for hours usually, but I seem to be able to spend 3 hours having a chat with friends on video calls quite easily. Strangely though, no-one has anything to tell each other – “What you been up to this week?”, “erm, nothing”… – however, a glass of wine in hand seems to increase levels of chat! I managed to make my dinner with an audience of 4 the other night!
Its strangely liberating having a Saturday night drink with friends, without the need to get dressed or put any make up on!! A bottle of Monkey 47 or Malbec and I’m happy!
#4 – Take time to think and switch off
I work in HR so am acutely aware of Mental Health and some of the challenges and triggers. The isolation I’m currently experiencing has made me very mindful of looking after myself in this regard – I can see how easy it would be to spiral with negative thoughts and I have experienced the impact of poor mental health on others.
I’ve had conversations before with people talking about mindfulness and meditation – and always thought it’s just not for me. I simply cannot switch my mind off, and when I’ve tried its felt like I’m missing the point somehow and I can’t do it. I remember a couple of years back when I went on a trip to Sri Lanka – I was stood at a Buddhist monument and the group decided to do some meditation as it seemed the perfect environment. Everyone was sat cross legged, eyes closed, a few humming, you can imagine the scene. I was sat, one eye open, looking around trying to work out what the point was!
Anyway, I thought I would try again and see whether it can help – and I’ve realised, I might not be doing it right, and my mind is wandering, but its 10 mins where I don’t have to think of anything else. Its a break, and I genuinely feel more relaxed after. I’m using the app ‘Calm’ where it talks you through it, and attempts to teach you. Anyway, its made me realise that a bit of time with my eyes shut is not a bad thing – and I don’t care if doing it wrong, its me time and its not doing any harm.
That and dancing around the room to old dance tracks like no-one is watching …..
#5 – Don’t feel guilty for slobbing on sofa!
I have heard lots of people talking of learning a new language, learning to bake, getting to grade 8 in piano, etc etc – am I now inadequate because I’m not doing those things? People seem to have lots of motivation and are going to do all this new stuff in their newly created spare time. Whereas I feel shattered all the time and have no inclination to do that.
Clearly you don’t want to spiral into a pit of despair but we need to allow ourselves a breather – everyone is different and being busier than normal and trying to fill every minute of the day is a pressure I know I don’t need – if I want to complete the entire content of Netflix I will!
Give yourself a break, its OK to do nothing just as much as its OK to do everything.