Updated: Apr 8
As everyone is saying, these are unprecedented times. If we had been told last month that we would not be able to sit on the beach, or meet up with friends for a drink, or gather in a church, it would have seemed unthinkable. Our lives have changed beyond recognition, beyond comprehension. I think this is important to remember when talking about how to react in these times because nobody has experienced anything like this before. No-one knows how to react, how to respond, and how could we when this isn’t something we thought we would experience in our lifetimes. I have found it incredibly hard to focus on anything and this blog has taken me twice as long to write as usual. At the minute there is a lot of processing that needs to be done, to acknowledge and make some sense of our current situation. Many people have lost their jobs or their businesses have had to cease trading, others suddenly find themselves working at home alongside becoming a teacher and home educating their kids. These would be major life changes to adapt to without lockdown so being kind to ourselves in lockdown is vital to our mental health.
Some people may be avoiding processing this change by distracting themselves with Netflix, or numbing themselves with alcohol and there will be others who are stuck in their feelings, and fear and panic has invaded their lives. This time is frightening, there is no way round it. So acknowledging these fears can help to stop them becoming overwhelming. Writing in a journal can help. We want to be aware of the part of us that is anxious but to not let this part make the decisions, or to overtake us completely.
Being gentle on ourselves is self care
We need to try to be gentle with ourselves and to not expect too much of ourselves right now, as we come to terms with the inconceivable changes in our lives. I would not assume that this is the best time to learn a new instrument, the most important thing that you have to do is to take care of yourself. It is a time to turn inwards and connect with your inner self to recognise what you really need. It might be that you need to cry and mourn what you have lost in your life or for the people you miss, it could be that your anxiety has increased and you need to listen to a meditation, it may be that you need to dance and move, you might need to snuggle under your favourite blanket and watch Disney movies whilst eating Easter eggs, and there is a good chance you might need to do all of these in one day. I certainly have. But everyone’s response is going to be different at different times. We need to start coming to terms with where we are before we can truly focus on anything else.
Don't put pressure on yourself to be productive in lockdown
When the Lockdown period started last week my Facebook feed was full of free online courses: how to make your business digital, rethink your life goals in 21 days, how to increase your mailing list, design an online course, learn a language in 4 weeks, create a morning yoga routine, learn swing dance. I signed up for many of these whilst still being in a state of panic and fear at finding myself imprisoned, and I thought a possible risk of catching a virus. I was frantically reading emails and course content, whilst trying to monitor my daughter’s home schooling, not to mention waking up nightly with a sore throat, convinced I was in the early stages of the virus. I was thrown further into overwhelm and anxiety.
There is such a pressure to make the most of this time, particularly for the self-employed there is an added urgency about how to ‘pivot’ your business and step into service. I came to the realisation that the most important thing that I needed to do right now is to take care of myself. I need to focus on self-care by eating fresh healthy foods and juices, exercising and practising yoga, meditating and taking supplements. This has to be the priority for you and your families at this time. This isn’t optional. We need to keep our bodies strong and healthy. We definitely don’t need to feel bad about ourselves not making the most of self-isolation and add guilt on top of everything else we have to manage. Particularly for Mum's having to work and school their kids from home. Allow your standards to slip. Kids can quickly catch up with their education, the main thing is to protect your mental health. Part of self-care is also keeping in touch with families and friends to keep a sense of community and belonging, I spent five minutes talking to my Mother's ear on Facetime yesterday, attend the streamed church services and take part in Zoom meditations.
Self care in lockdown
My self-care has also involved stopping and breathing- with the planet. A pause button has been pressed and it was helpful for me to take advantage of this, giving myself time to rest, reframe and refocus. The structures and values that we have based our lives upon have now been thrown into question. For many of us our lives are usually extremely busy and stressful, where we have learnt our value depends on us being productive and industrious, this is possibly the first time that we have had to slow down and we need to allow ourselves time to adjust to this.
Once I had started to feel more centred and grounded, which is a fluid process that I have to continually address daily, I started to focus on what is helpful at this time. There are many studies that show a positive mental attitude is beneficial to our physical well-being. I believe we are being called to step up, to rise up, by being positive and raising your vibration for yourself and the people around you to help boost our immune systems. Positivity is the new superpower and this is our new mission. Even before BC (Before Coronavirus) the world has increasingly known a lot of fear, anxiety in young people in particular has grown throughout the last ten years, and the time has come to change this climate of fear. With the spread of the Coronavirus it is easy to get trapped in a fear cycle. It is scary but we have to find a way to rise above this for our sake and for the planet. What everyone needs now is hope, is faith, is love. Love is the healing power that we need to amplify around our world and this starts with loving yourself. Be conscious of the way you speak to yourself. Try talking to yourself like a loving Mother, remind yourself how well you are doing under these circumstances, how resourceful you are being and more importantly how brave you are. Many of us have forgotten this, craving security over adventure, over change, over following our dreams. You are braver then you ever imagined.
I am not trying to add to the pressure that we already feel. I want you to connect with love and joy in whatever way feels right to you and this doesn’t have to be prescriptive and rigid. Take a moment to appreciate the sunlight, or the birdsong, or a hot bath. Be more loving than you have ever managed to be before, to others and yourself, shower people with compliments, even if it has to be over a dodgy Facetime connection, cook yourself your favourite meal, send an email telling someone how important they are to you. Try to make conscious choices and decisions. Choose to do whatever makes you feel a bit better today right now, to raise your vibration. Try to be in touch with how you are feeling and monitor this, stay with your experience. Being kind to yourself in lockdown and being present is the starting point for knowing what you need.
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