We’re living in unprecedented times.
From our health, income, education, ability to travel, no one has been exempt from the impact of this global pandemic. So excuse yourself if you have an occasional meltdown. It’s understandable under the circumstances. We don’t know how long it will last, what the outcome will be. All we can manage is how we react and learn to take each day as it comes.
Practice daily gratitude. A positive, thankful approach is the key to improving unfortunate circumstances. Start each day by being thankful; for waking up, for having a roof over your head, running water, electricity, your health, your family and friends. Times like this often bring out the best in people, so be thankful for the people who check to ask if you’re okay, the opportunities you have to walk each day, to slow right down, spend time with your family. Okay, this situation is tough, but you can improve it by appreciating the good in your life.
Take care of yourself. That way others don’t have to worry about you and you’re in a better position to take care of those who need your attention. Self-care requires both mental and physical stimulus, so reading, games, work, study, and physical exercise are an important part of your commitment to yourself. Getting enough sleep and not staying up all hours or over-sleeping is also important.
Explore available options. Might this be a good opportunity to learn another language, refresh an existing skill, diversify? If you’ve free time you could turn it to your advantage by investigating and even training in a new interest or skill.
Help others. Those little gestures, the phone call, bunch of flowers on the doorstep, the ‘thinking of you’ greeting card can make all the difference to someone’s day. And when you shop for essentials or go online for support remember your local small traders are relying on your custom to survive.
Keep to a regular routine. It’s tough when your normal life has been thrown into disarray and added unexpected worries and concerns. But it helps when you re-establish some order in your life. Get up at the same time, shower, put fresh clothes on, designate certain times for work. Some people even have their children wear their school uniforms, which helps them appreciate that this is not an extended school holiday and that they have to do some actual school work!
Don’t allow the children to dominate your life and run you ragged. Start as you mean to go on and introduce one of the great online exercise classes to burn off some energy, but also have quiet time too where they read, paint, do some chores or crafts and give you a little space.
Stay hydrated and eat healthily. Keeping your fluid intake up is important. Viruses thrive in your mouth and throat so drinking hot/warm water regularly, perhaps adding fresh lemon, ginger, and honey can help to keep your airways clear. Maintain a good diet, including fresh fruit and vegetables. The supermarkets are doing a sterling job of frequently restocking.
And manage your alcohol intake. When we’re feeling fed up it’s tempting to go down the wine’ o’clock route, but it doesn’t help and you’ll feel worse afterward, as you will if you stock up on treats like cakes, biscuits, and chocolates and then binge eat the lot in an afternoon!
Manage your time on social media and the news sites. There’s plenty of fake news, naysayers and doom merchants out there, feeding us gloomy prophecies, images and statistics. Yes, check-in once or twice a day but don’t allow depressing information to be drip-fed into your home and life regularly. Remember, you’re in control!
Stay connected. There are plenty of groups using skype, zoom, Whatsapp, Facebook to stay connected and be supportive of each other. Keep in touch with the people who are important in your life. Many businesses are finding effective, alternative ways to contact their clients and hold meetings, run training sessions and still work.
If you’ve got a partner give each other space. It can be challenging to spend 24/7 in each other’s company, especially if you’ve only ever done that on holidays or at Christmas. Post-holiday and post-Christmas anyway are the busiest times for divorce lawyers! So if you don’t want to fall into that category ensure that you agree to not do everything together. Maybe one shops for food or walks the dog, works in the study, goes for a quiet read, potters in the garden or has a leisurely bath. Make allowances for each other’s low mood at times. Give each other personal time.
Stay positive. A good perspective and sense of humor are lifesavers, especially at the moment. Social media, used well, can help lighten the mood. When you dip in and see the fun, imaginative ways people respond to daily themes or news stories it can brighten the day. Or laughing at some of your unfortunate attempts at baking, DIY or making something work can keep a pleasant light-hearted atmosphere.
If you find you’re struggling maybe keep a journal and write down how you’re feeling. It can help to get things down on paper, and writing is more effective than using your laptop. Avoid running ‘what-if’ and worst-case scenarios in your mind. Intercept those by distracting yourself; move, dance, sing, phone a positive friend for an upbeat chat. Aim to accomplish one positive task each day, from tidying your sock drawer, cleaning the windows or even sorting your emails. Then you have a regular achievement to feel good about.
We’re all trying our best to get through these exceptional times. Let’s support each other and do it together.
Susan Leigh, Counsellor & Hypnotherapist