Shaping up to be a bit of a tricky one, isn't it?
First Brexit, now Covid-19. Life as we no it, the ordinary daily grind that we all love to complain about is rapidly becoming something we all wish we could go back to.
When life gives you lemons....
And I don't know about you, but over the last few days I've been finding my emotions have been all over the place - ranging from defiance to despair, and pretty much everything in between. And with the schools now closed too, I'm predicting the stress levels in most homes around the country are set to rise, with parents simultaneously trying to work and look after their kids. It's not something I'm looking forward to, I don't mind admitting (an almost 4 year old confined with an almost 2 year old for a prolonged period - pass the wine...).
And so I've pulled together a list of things that are going to help me get through the next few weeks (or even months) in terms of maintaining some level of emotional equilibrium, and I thought I would share it here too.
Acceptance – This is a big one for me. The realisation (and eventual acceptance) that this is an unusual (even unprecedented) situation, and that regardless of how I feel, life is going to change has been crucial for me moving on from the "head in the sand, it's not that bad" phase and into the 'right, lets get my sh*t together" phase. This morning I had a bit of a cry about various things, and accepting that I am ok to feel angry, stressed, sad etc has made it easier to process. I understand that the next few weeks and months are going to be a bit of a rollercoaster, and the reminder that we are all going to feel a bit 'out of sorts' at times will make it easier for me to adapt and adjust to whatever needs to happen.
Think about what you can control – Control, and our perceived lack of it right now is something I'm going to be talking more about next week. At the end of the day, we cannot control much of this situation, but we can control how we show up, how we respond to those around us, and we can control how we act around others. So think about how you want to come across - for me, I want to be seen as a positive force in amongst so much negativity right now, I want to be a calming presence for my boys, and a supportive member of my community - and those 3 words - positive, calm and supportive are now stuck up on the fridge as a reminder!
Think about your triggers – over the last few weeks, it is likely you have consumed more news / social media than you would regularly, and I know personally, this hasn't had a great impact on how I've been feeling. So if you feel like news and SM are having a negative impact on your mental state, think about how you can control or monitor your usage - delete news apps from your phone, turn off unhelpful notifications, put your phone in a different room at night for example.
Routine and structure - with a lot of us WFH more than usual and the arrival of kids into the mix, without some sort of routine or structure to the day, it can quickly descend into chaos. Whether you choose a strict schedule, or opt for a more relaxed 'general flow', having certain touch points in the day, such as family meals, agreed screen time and boundaries around working time can help everyone to feel like they know what is happening. I am a big fan of a routine (even before I had kids!) and this is one thing I think will really help me to keep my head above water.
Start your day with intention - whether you have the luxury of a lie in and a leisurely start, or get woken at stupid o'clock by demands for "Hey Duggee" try and take a couple of minutes for yourself first thing. I'm not talking huge morning routines (unless that works for you) but things like a few deep breaths and a glass of water while making coffee, 5 minute journalling (can be done while Duggee is on) and then positive thoughts while brushing your teeth. Starting the day from a good place can really set the tone for the day and lead to a better morning all round.
Think about your priorities – both with work and family. It's a time of great uncertainty, and it's likely that it is going to test us all in different ways. Rather than running ourselves into the ground trying to be "all things to all people" take a moment to think about what's important to you right now - is it that the kids are happy and fed, or is it that they are sticking to the plan you made? Do you need to prioritise work for a few hours a day in order to stay afloat? Or do you need to block out an hour for you, in order to maintain your mental health? Whatever you need to do, think about it now and what you need to make it happen.
Open the lines of communication - at this time we need to be open and honest in our communication with others around us - partners, parents, friends. Ask for what we need, and talk about how we can make the best of the situation such scheduling working time / free time, asking for help with chores etc as well as sharing how we are feeling so that others can support us.
Looks for the opportunities around us - we all get caught up in rushing about from one thing to another, and now that we might not be able to, let's use the time to consciously take a step back and slow down. Instead of thinking about all the things we aren't able to do, focus on what we can do - spend more time with the kids, finally get round to "Kon-Mari'ing" the house, doing more baking / gardening / yoga. Whatever it is that you say you never have time for, think about whether you can build it into your day or week now.
Focus on you - There is a saying "you cannot pour from an empty cup". Right now, more and more is being asked of us, extra childcare responsibilities, working under unusual conditions, and all alongside a worrying back drop of uncertainty. So cut yourself some slack - you do not need to be doing everything perfectly, by all means have some expectation of how you'd like things to be, but don't beat yourself up if things don't quite go to plan. Think about how you need to look after yourself, and plan that in alongside work and childcare - for me, I need time to exercise (or I lose the plot!) and so I'll be scheduling the Body Coach sessions in around other things.
Think about how you can help others - acts of kindness release dopamine (the love hormone) and increase serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood. So think about what you could do to help those around you - both locally, and in your wider networks. A phone call, a note through an elderly neighbours door, a donation to a food bank. Little actions, repeated often can have a big impact on how you feel.
I hope these have been helpful - I'd love to know what is working for you, so do leave me a comment or drop me an email here.
I'm running a 30 days of positivity series in my facebook group, the Career Confidence Club, so why not head over and join in?