Our life is continuously changing, but change is usually so slow we hardly notice it. But in the last three weeks, the rug was pulled from under our feet, and we landed in a new, strange world. Everyone’s life is different from how it was. Now we need to make sense of it, stay healthy and sane as we find out how this new world works.
Tip 1. Create a new daily routine
Last month you and I had a schedule, and it mostly ran like clockwork. In part, that’s because the rhythm of our lives is set by work and school hours. Now you may be tackling working from home for the first time and getting your head around new technology. Or perhaps you’re trying to keep young children amused, home-schooling older children, or trying to comprehend the eternal spirit of teenage angst. Or you may have elderly, vulnerable parents in lockdown. Or if you are a key-worker, then you may be working all hours and facing practical and emotional difficulties. Our old daily routines are gone – so we need to create a new routine.
If you’re no longer working to the beat of the corporate clock, choose a schedule that works for you. Are you an early morning lark or a night owl? What hours will you work? How can you bring some routine together for your children?
I know you may think making your bed is insignificant, yet beginning the day with this one act, helps you create order for the rest of the day. Watch this powerful speech by William McRaven, US Navy Admiral. Although it might be tempting to lounge about in PJs all day—it’s also much better to get dressed. Every day needs a purpose–even if you are currently furloughed. What will your goal be for today, for this week and month ahead?
Every day, include something to look forward to. Chatting to family members in these times feels more meaningful than before. Or perhaps your daily exercise outdoors is your highlight. Or maybe it’s cooking food from fresh when previously you didn’t have time. Whatever it is, notice it and enjoy the experience.
Decide what time and days you will do household chores and food shopping. It may be tedious – but having a rhythm is comforting to the psyche. And balance your days out with entertainment and light-hearted moments. Laughter is healing—even during the Coronavirus.
Tip 2. Stay connected to friends and family
While we can’t connect face to face with extended family members and friends, we are finding new ways to communicate in the virtual world.
I’ve just discovered Zoom and I love the high-quality video and audio. Staying in touch with my Mum in this way has made all the difference to her self-isolation. Over the weekend, I had a Zoom playdate with my grandchildren – I read a story, and we did crayoning together. My family are also doing pub quizzes via WhatsApp. And I’m receiving many more texts than usual as friends stay in touch.
If you’ve not yet explored connecting by video, I encourage you to have a go as most of these apps like Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp or FaceTime are free to use. Be creative – could you arrange a Zoom lunch or dinner date with a friend? Or jam with your musical friends? Or play games online? Don’t worry if you haven’t done these activities before – we’re all learning. And if new technology is a bit scary, there’s sure to be a ‘how-to-do-it’ video on YouTube.
Tip 3. Be gentle
While the world is turning upside down and inside out, be gentle with yourself and others. Practise kindness and patience – particularly for yourself. The most important thing is to come through this in good health. Afterwards, there will be time for everything else.
So, consciously eat well. Take care of your body with more self-pampering than usual. Take time out to reflect on what is important to you going forward. Meditate to stay grounded. By the way, I’m offering a free Zoom meditation class on Thursday 2nd April at 7.30 pm. Email me if you wish to join me. Let yourself off the hook if you don’t achieve as much as you thought you would because you became too anxious or the children needed your attention. It will be OK.
The old proverb, ‘This too shall pass’, gives me comfort. Coronavirus will pass. We will reach a new, more settled place in the future. In the meantime, tread gently with your precious soul.
Tip 4. Minimise your intake of the News
With changes happening rapidly, we need to keep abreast of what is happening. BUT we don’t need to watch or read the news 24/7. In the world of journalism, they know that good news is not as attention-grabbing as bad news. Sadly, then much of the news is biased towards the bad and the dramatic. Choose your source of news and in particular, try not to watch the late-night news. Filling your head with dread and horror just before bedtime is not conducive to peaceful sleep. So, don’t do it!
Tip 5. Make exercising the highlight of your day
Walking, cycling, jogging or even open water swimming helps you not just physically, but emotionally too. When you’re out and about, the mind calms down by seeing different shades of green. Different shapes of trees, bushes, flowers stimulate the brain, and everything else slips away. Focus on all the beautiful signs of Spring that are everywhere. Enjoy too the physical aspect of moving!
Tip 6. Practise gratitude
During this rapid change, there has been a lot of loss. Jobs have gone, or they are precariously hanging on. Money is tight. House sales have fallen through. Weddings and celebrations can’t take place. Most of all, there is uncertainty about how the future will look. Yet we all have something. Most of us in the UK are in a much better place than those in other poorer countries. Yes, honour what is going on for you. It’s OK to feel sad, angry and lost and then still be grateful for everything that you have. By focusing on what you have and what you can do rather than what you don’t have or can’t do – you will change your perspective and this will help you get through the lockdown.
Tip 7. Doing the things you usually don’t find time to do
One of the good things about this time is we can give a lot more TLC to our gardens and homes. If you have a garden, you can banish weeds, plant seeds, trim the lawn edges and prune back the deadwood out of your shrubs. I often use the garden as a metaphor for life. So as you pull weeds out, prune and re-sow, notice that it may be time to do the same in your life! I think there is something genuinely cathartic about pulling up weeds. See the little video I made on replanting my herb garden.
From recent discussions, it sounds like social distancing and self-isolation will carry on for many more weeks. So treat your chores and jobs in the same way you run a marathon and not a sprint.
Tip 8. Make good use of this time
Many of us have more free time than usual, so now may be the perfect time to learn something new. Perhaps it will be mastering new technology, or a foreign language, or a new hobby. You could join online yoga, Pilates or Thai Chi classes – or do something that will enhance your job prospects when we through to the other side of this pandemic. In this vein, I am also offering Personal Foundation Coaching to further your self-development. I’ll soon be offering this to small groups of 3 or 4 friends too. Email me if this of interest to you.
In decades to come, our children and grandchildren will look back on this time with amazement that everything changed so quickly. Consider recording your experience about this moment in history. Write or type what has and is happening for you. Because in 5–10 years time, we will have forgotten much of what happened. Our memory is nowhere near as good as we think it is!
No-one yet knows when we will return to normal, but it won’t be our old normal – it will be something new. Have a record of this momentous time will be something to treasure in the future.
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