Living Lockdown and Beyond
With lockdown measures looking like they may be lifting, it can be tempting to rush back to life as it was.
Whether you’re furloughed, WFH, with kids or home alone, heading back to the office, or self-isolating, it’s so important to look after yourself, mentally and physically.
I’ve pulled together my top ten tips for living (not just surviving!) lockdown, which is pretty much how I live life outside of lockdown too.
1. Have a flexible framework
Break your day into little segments to help alleviate any overwhelming feelings.
Allow yourself to address each segment of time with full focus of the task at hand.
Allow yourself flexibility within the structure of your day so if it goes a little awry, it’s ok.
Figure out what is best for you.
Remember to have moments of rest as well as doing.
2. Move your body
Aim to have time slots where you are moving your body.
Use different types of movement as well as the movements your body is used to, e.g. walking and yoga practice as well as dancing like no-one’s watching or PE with Joe Wicke’s on YouTube.
Your makeshift home desk may not adhere to the office health and safety policy so change it up and have various working positions and spaces throughout the day.
Remember, exercise / movement / whatever you want to call it, is a pleasure not a punishment.
3. Be kind to your mind
Fuel your mind in the same way you fuel your body with what it needs and what will ensure it thrives.
A Netflix binge is ok every now and again. If it becomes a daily habit, your brain may be going a bit square, let alone your eyes.
Any form of escapism is light relief to our nervous systems but be careful that it doesn’t creep into a habit, a necessity.
Watch that booze intake. It’s easy to become addicted to something that is addictive.
Check your self talk.
Are you talking to yourself as you would a friend?
Are you treating yourself with kindness and compassion?
Give yourself a cuddle and tell yourself you’re doing great.
Do it now.
Whether it’s writing, drawing, painting, sewing, knitting, gardening, cooking, making an elephant out of a milk carton, whatever.
Let your creativity be liberated from restriction.
Improvise, be inventive, innovative.
It is the process that is important. And I bet, by the end, your toilet roll castle looks pretty damn epic.
Who knows, it could spark something in you.
A new idea for a design at work.
A lightbulb moment after struggling over a specific challenge all day.
You won’t know until you have a go.
5. Be mindful
Resist the urge to “multi-task”. It will only burn you out.
Mindfulness is basically ensuring you are focussed on whatever it is you are doing, engaging your senses, consciously.
You can be mindful in a moment of “nothing” (as well as a segment of “something” in your flexible framework).
Wherever you are right now, and without any judgment:
Notice the sounds around you, what can you hear? Different types of bird song? Cars in the distance? Wind in the leaves? Kids being giddy in the front room?
Notice any smells… someone’s cooking dinner on the street perhaps, the fresh air streaming through the window, the oil diffuser in the corner of your living room…
Notice anything that is in contact with your skin and your body, what can you feel?… the ground beneath your feet, the back of the thighs and the pelvis on the chair, your phone in your hand, your arm pressed against the side of your torso, the gentle breeze in your hair….
Notice your breath….is it shallow or deep? Fast or slow? In the tummy or in the ribcage?
Notice how you are feeling.
Without any judgment.
Now is the time to notice.
6. Bring the outdoors indoors
Lockdown has occurred at the best time of the year, if we focus on the silver lining.
Look out your window and notice the blossom trees creating their snowfall of petals in the sunshine.
If you can get out, walk in nature and spot all the new buds of life, the bluebells, marigolds, snowdrops, the baby oaks, woodland strawberries and so much more.
Listen to the sound of the bees. Watch them work without a care in the world other than their immediate task.
Spot the butterflies in flight.
Spring is a beautiful reminder of rebirth and new beginnings. It shows us that the darkness and the cold of winter doesn’t last forever. In time, all things pass and the cycle continues. Life goes on.
Create a little area at home of your findings, or fill a vase with wildflowers for the table. This is also fun for the kids and it’s completely free!
Bring the outdoors indoors for that stabilising reminder of beautiful impermanence.
Speak to someone else OUTSIDE of your household.
A phone call. A genuine message to check in and see how someone else is doing.
Limit your social media time.
Depending on how you use Insta or FB, social media can be an illusion of human connection.
It’s not the type of connection we want 24/7 anyway, so stop scrolling and call your friend.
Their insta may look full of light and love, but who shares the dark parts on social?
Hearing one of your favourite voices on the other end of the phone line can lift your mood and increase your energy levels.
And it’s a two-way thing, so you will hopefully do the same for your friend.
8. Rest and digest
Give your nervous system a break!
Everyone reacts to stress differently.
We are hearing all about the threat to the human race at the moment so it isn’t any wonder that our sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system keeps catching us off guard even within the comfort of our own homes.
At times we may feel manic and want to do do do, keep busy, nest nest nest, can’t sleep, won’t sleep, got to keep moving.
At other times, we may find it hard to wake up in the morning, want to curl up in a corner of the living room and nap throughout the day.
Allow yourself time to rest. Allow your body time to accept that while there may be an external “threat”, we are not directly under attack RIGHT NOW. Allow others to do the same.
Sometimes we can feel a sense of guilt for being happy whilst others are suffering.
Your laughter and your smile could brighten someone’s day and make them feel better, despite the circumstances.
Allow yourself to feel.
You may find yourself “over-reacting” to things that normally wouldn’t bother you.
This situation isn’t our norm so it’s understandable that our emotions may be a little chaotic too.
If you’ve upset anyone with your behaviour (not your emotion), apologise, but find some understanding into the reasons behind the behaviour to try to change the pattern.
Allow some grace when others may act out of character. They are going through the same dishevelment. We are only human.
(Side note: Of course, never tolerate abuse. And do not use the circumstance as an excuse for certain behaviour. Take responsibility for your actions, with kindness and compassion.)
9. Practice gratitude
Set an alarm on your phone for 7pm each day that asks you for 3 things you are grateful for that day.
No matter how dark some days feel, there will always be a small glimmer of light in them.
Look for them.
I promise you’ll find them.
The more you find them, the more you’ll see them and you’ll want to express gratitude for more than 3 things a day.
“What’s in your jar?” my friend always asks me.
Let it overflow.
Resist the temptation to OVER indulge but by all means, indulge away.
Balance is key.
You know the drill.
My new habit is to drink a pint of water if ever I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. Whether it’s the action, the change in focus, the benefits in my body of the deliciously cool liquid, it helps.
A lot of these points may seem obvious (that’s because they are) but sometimes we need a gentle reminder of the basics.
Especially when life pulls the rug from under our feet.
Even after lockdown, there will be ongoing challenges as we adjust to a “new normal”.
Take your basics with you.
Carry them in your toolbox wherever you go.
Remember what you need to live a fulfilling life.
Use your discernment to evaluate your needs.
Be firm and clear with your boundaries.
Remember that life is more valuable in this one moment than it was yesterday and it will be tomorrow.