Our Fourth Week of Lockdown: Be kind to you
We are now starting our fourth week of lockdown and I was wondering how you are faring?
From my own experience, and that of everyone else I have spoken to, this is a time, more than ever, of real ups and downs. I don't know a single person who hasn't admitted to at least the odd tough day here and there. Anxiety levels are raised, motivation is challenged, (as many of us have to be more self-sufficient at home), sleep may be affected and the sense of isolation is palpable.
We may also find ourselves turning to less healthy habits such as eating, drinking alcohol or smoking more than usual, scrolling endlessly through social media and news sites or spending the day in our pyjamas. It isn’t that most of things aren’t OK in moderation but if we do any of them too much we can start to have problems.
It is crazy how the time is flying by. When we were first told that our movements were to be considerably restricted and that many businesses we are used to using would be closed, or activities we were used to doing without thought would stop, it seemed a momentous thing. It is hard to believe that was now over three weeks ago!
Changes in Pace
For some life has got considerably busier with working from home, juggling home schooling or scratching around to try to keep the income coming in. For some key workers life may have reached a whole new level of stress and strain. For others life may be slower and feel emptier. If you’re furloughed from your job or have lost your business income, work tasks or other usual daily occupations and activities you may feel at rather a loose end. Many people are losing track of days and in danger of missing any odd thing they do actually have scheduled in the diary, as every day can feel a bit like a Sunday. Many of you may also be grappling with new technologies in an effort to work, to stay in contact with people or get your food order in.
Make Use of the Time?
At the same time we may be feeling a bit like we ‘should’ be using this time productively. My facebook feed is certainly full of adverts about new things I could be learning and how I should be embracing this extra time and slower pace of life. Taking the time to practice something like meditation may be easier said than done when your body’s feel tense of your mind is racing and won’t shut up. These messages, whilst earnest and worthy in their way, can add to a sense of time passing unproductively and a sense of guilt and more worry that we’re not making good use of it. They may also encourage us to overload ourselves with too many tasks and goals.
Be Kind to You
As the quote at the beginning of this article so aptly describes: we may all be in the same boat we aren’t all experiencing the same storm. Some people may well feel like they are blessed to be drifting in still clear water with a blue sky above their head whilst others are in the eye of a raging hurricane.
So why spell all this out? My message to you today is really a very simple one to be kind to yourself, whatever your circumstances. Hopefully one of the tips below will be of help.
1. Try to take each day as it comes: Accept that there may be tough days, days where you don’t want to get out your pjs or even take advantage of your one daily sanctioned walk outside despite the beautiful sunshine. Cut yourself some slack.
2. Ride the wave when you can: When you feel that more productive urge strike you try to ride the wave and get stuck into something. Enjoy that sense of productivity.
3. Be gentle with yourself: When it isn’t one of the good days try to find ways to pamper and comfort yourself that don’t include overindulging too much. Do rest when your body and mind need it. Try a short meditation or have a day curled up with your favourite book or film.
4. Bring in some routine: If lacking routine and organisation is getting in your way, take some time today to organise and plan this afternoon, tomorrow or even the next few days.
5. Make a list of the tasks that are on your mind: Give yourself one task to get done today and then once you have completed it go back to your list and choose one more task. Tackle your tasks one at a time and finish one before you start something else. That way you can enjoy that little buzz of achievement.
6. Reach out to your friends: Do your best to allocate time for this so you connect with people when you need to but don’t use it as too much of a distraction technique.
7. Limit your news and social media: Try your best not to get too caught up with events or mindless scrolling. This is a tough time but reading endless negative stories and worrying statistics won’t help you to cope or change anything that is happening. Set yourself a limit or a time for this, log out of Facebook, put your phone down or switch off the TV. Go out for a walk and leave your phone at home or set it to do not disturb for a bit.
8. Above all be kind: Don’t beat yourself up if you’re doing too much of something or not getting on with things you feel you should be. Try to let go of the self-judgements and allow yourself space to find it hard some days. If you do overindulge or feel you have wasted a day it isn’t the end of the world. Judging yourself won’t help you to change it. Treat yourself with the kindness you would a young child who was in a confusing and stressful situation.
Not all of these suggestions will work for you or feel relevant but perhaps choose one of two that you think will be useful. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need some help to pick yourself up or a little support with the challenges facing you. I am here if I can be of service…
Dr Karen Janes ©
14th April 2020