It’s been a while since I’ve shared a blog – the previous content I had planned didn’t seem appropriate with the current climate – so I thought now would be a great time to reconnect with my TFF tribe and share my headspace as we’ve passed the first phase of lockdown.
So, how are you coping? How are you really coping?
The novelty has truly worn off of lockdown, but the importance remains the same: we must do whatever we can to limit the spread and keep everyone safe.
But that doesn’t mean that isolation isn’t tough, right?
I know it isn’t WW1 and WW2 tough in terms of what those generations had to face, but we’re human, we’re designed to be social beings and if you’re anything like me, I thrive from connectivity and being with others.
I saw a great quote: “We’re not in the same boat but we are in the same storm.”
We are all having varying experiences of isolation. My quaranteam consists of my husband, Stu, and our malti-poo, Ted. I’m very fortunate that I have these two to keep me company and keep me busy.
This experience you're facing will depend on your environment, home circumstances, social support, connectivity and family, and I’m aware for some this must be a very challenging time*. Hopefully you have positive energy and distractions around you.
While I’m absolutely not an expert, I thought I’d share the ways I’ve been dealing the anxiety and issues we are facing:
1. Get Out of Bed Pronto
When I switched up my business model, I scheduled my online classes to start at 8:30am Monday-Thursday. This means I get up, teach my class and BOOM the day has started.
I knew that if I didn’t have a class to teach in the mornings there was no way I’d be so punctual. The longer I stay in bed – usually scrolling and procrastinating – the more dangerous it is for my mindset as I become lethargic and negative.
I’m so pleased that I have that purpose. It keeps me connected to people, keeps me disciplined with my working day and gets me moving.
In turn, this helps me feel uplifted, energised and happy that I’ve achieved something. Exercise is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?!
2. Allow yourself to Feel Fear
This is an uncertain and scary time. And, for me, it’s absolutely imperative to feel that fear.
When I feel overwhelmed, I have a good cry and then unpack the reasons why I feel that way with someone I love over a FaceTime so I can move on from it rather than it being stuck in my head.
It’s hard to share fears as it makes you feel vulnerable, but from sharing vulnerability comes strength. From strength comes the power to overcome the things that are holding you back or dragging you down, so pick up the phone if you’re feeling fearful and talk it through.
3. Set Expectations
Early on I decided to view lockdown as a long-term situation rather than a short term one.
While that’s quite overwhelming at first, it forced me into accepting this new way of life for a while, rather than hoping for change every time I tuned into the 5pm Prime Minister briefing.
It also forced me into coming up with an online strategy for my business model quickly, which stood me in great stead for launching my online classes.
4. Take Ownership of your Working Week
I’m sure most of you can relate when I say before lockdown, I was doing too much, feeling stressed and getting poorly a lot. I love my classes, clients, presenting and training, BUT there’s only so much one can do.
So as a self-employed person, I saw lockdown as a great opportunity to restructure my working week.
This has empowered me to tap into my Sasha Fierce and take control over what I want to take back on, what I want to adjust and what I want to put a stop to. It’s given me a razor-sharp focus which will stand me in great stead when business as usual resumes.
5. "It’s a Date!"
Anyone else an introvert dressed as an extravert when it comes to socialising? It may be a surprise but that’s certainly the case with me.
Just like scheduling my work week, I’ve really enjoyed scheduling catch ups over FaceTime dates.
I know that if I don’t make the effort, I can withdraw into myself. Then, when you think about others, they may struggle with reaching out an olive branch.
Let’s face it, life gets in the way – especially when there are kids, houses, jobs and businesses to run – so I do my best to nurture those relationships so that we’re not all sat feeling lonely and on our own.
These calls are really uplifting so my challenge to you is right now, message someone you care about but haven’t spoken to for a while and ask for a FaceTime date. You’ll thank me for it!
6. Exercise isn’t Everything
I thought it was so important to share that exercise is amazing, but exercising isn’t everything.
If you’ve lost your mojo with working out right now, that’s ok and that’s totally understandable. It’s so much harder mentally to get yourself moving when you don’t have an appointment to attend or a class to motivate you.
The key is not to catastrophize it. Your mojo won’t be gone forever. Your entire fitness hasn’t gone forever. When business resumes and when you’re in the right place, it can (and will) come back.
Guilt is a wasted emotion. It serves no one, not even you.
If you’re struggling to exercise and beating yourself up about it, see this time as an opportunity to rest. As my good friend Claire says: “rest is where the magic happens”.
Take it from me, I used to get so much knee and hip pain from teaching an overload of certain classes and now guess what? A short break and the pain has gone – massive win!
7. Gratitude is the Attitude
Rather than thinking about all the things I could be doing if COVID-19 wasn’t a thing, I’ve been focusing on all the things I am grateful for.
When I consider I have a roof over my head, food on the table, family to love, friends who care and a business to tick over, I remember how incredibly lucky I am as there are many who do not have the resources, love or support that I do.
8. Change in Behaviour Comes with Positives
If you’ve been connected with me for a while, you’ll know I’m extremely passionate about the environment. Since becoming invested in learning about our climate in 2017, I’ve had to grapple with Climate Crisis anxiety.
With knowledge comes power, such as the power to change behaviour. Yet the more I’ve learnt, the more frightened, sad, angry and scared I’ve become because I’ve felt the societal issue hasn’t been addressed properly at government level around the world.
Then, along comes Coronavirus.
While this catastrophe is utterly harrowing and heart breaking for its human cost, there is one fallout from is that is a silver lining, and that’s our adapted behaviour.
Seeing how well our planet is doing from this pause has given me hope. The images are a slideshow of the water in Venice which has seen dolphins, the water in the Solent that looks more like a riviera than the usual murky water we're accustomed to. Then we have seen wildlife in places like Nara of Japan, roads in South Africa and towns like Llandudno seeing wildlife enjoying a break too.
A bit like my knee and hip pain, when something that’s overused is given a rest, it’s given a chance to recover. We can actually see damage being reversed and nature prospering.
My hope is that as we see this amazing recovery our earth is making, then our governments might be persuaded to take green action quicker once we move past this devastating pandemic.
9. Limiting my News Intake
More isn’t necessarily more. I found the more I read, the worse my understanding was. Information conflicts, sources have different stances and if someone doesn’t like what they’re hearing, it’s branded ‘fake news’ – no prizes for guessing who that’s referring to.
So I decided that one news update a day was plenty for me and it’s a definite no-no to read Covid-19 articles from social media channels. They simply are not reliable whatsoever.
10. Be Mindful of Scroll Time
Anyone else feel guilty and compare when scrolling your timelines? If I don’t keep a check on myself, it becomes a vortex of mindless refreshing without gaining anything from it other than negative emotions.
The biggest emotion it leaves me with is frustration that I’ve wasted time. I beat myself up that I haven’t achieved what I set out to do that day and then I feel guilty for taking a break.
When this happens, I tell myself to remember that no journey is linear, my journey is unique and ‘everyone posts the best but forgets the rest’. While I try not to be so hard on myself when I do have a scroll, I am mindful to limit how much I reach for my phone and I feel much better for it.
11. NO to Caffeine
Right now, caffeine is not the one.
I’m highly sensitive to it anyway, but right now in this time of uncertainty I’ve learnt to go decaf all the way.
My mind is too wild to handle any extra caffeine-induced-anxious-thoughts.
If you’re looking for a caffeine detox, slow and steady wins the race. Gradually reduce your intake to avoid those nasty withdrawal headaches and try replacing one cup of coffee or glass of fizzy each day with plenty of water.
12. Disconnect to Reconnect
I’ve come to enjoy listening to the birds tweeting during the day – which is a good job too because they are a LOUD wakeup call in the morning!
I also love going outside for walks, leaving my phone at home and spending some sacred time in nature which I’ve come to appreciate so much.
I’ve also taken time to do things that serve me better, so I’ve had more baths, become more partial to moisturising, less partial to wearing a bra or deodorant, and shaving has become less regular… I feel liberated! (And more hairy! Ha!)
13. Shake Your Tail Feather
Music is food for the soul, and I am a BIG FAN of putting feel good music on anytime I’m feeling down and dancing however I like.
Recently, I’ve loved watching Drag Race and Pose where there is a whole lot of Voguing going on.
It gave me the inspiration to start trying some of my own improvised Voguing, it makes me feel fabulous daaaahhhling!
Give it a go and tell me you aren’t the new Madonna.
If all else fails, I put on a timer and meditate. Rather than try and be still in my mind and focus on my breath, I just aim to watch my thoughts from a birds eye view and breath naturally.
And if my mind is rushing too much and I can’t switch off, I go to the podcast Gaba and listen to one of the weird and wonderful calming stories that sends me off into a beautiful relaxed state.
So there you have it: my 14 ways to get you through lockdown. But it isn’t all about me, I’d absolutely love to hear different tips you have to combat the lockdown blues? I’ll look forward to sharing any of your advice for my TFF Tribe to enjoy!
Please continue to keep safe, stay at home. If you’re feeling overwhelmed then please reach out to me or a loved one – I’ll happily recommend my favourite Vogue poses to give you an instant morale boost!
* The government acknowledges that the order to stay at home can cause anxiety for those who are experiencing or feel at risk of domestic abuse. There is never an excuse for domestic abuse, no matter what the circumstances are.
For anyone who feels they are at risk of abuse, it is important to remember that there is help and support available to you, including police response, online support, helplines, refuges and other services. You are not alone.
The household isolation instruction as a result of coronavirus does not apply if you need to leave your home to escape domestic abuse.
Friends, family, neighbours and community members can be a vital lifeline to those living with domestic abuse. If you are worried that someone you know may be a victim of domestic abuse, reassure them that the police and support services are still there to help and direct them to sources of support.
For full information on helplines, support and services available, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-and-domestic-abuse/coronavirus-covid-19-support-for-victims-of-domestic-abuse