(You don’t have to be everything )
Recipe for disaster:
Working full time – or more
Feeling lonely and isolated
Burnt out, tired, can’t sleep
Numbing by alcohol or other substances
Work and life washes together
Homeschooling kids/looking after little ones
Self care low priority
Stress and anxiety
Optional messy house
(feel free to carry on or add your own ingredients, you know, for taste!)
(note: please don’t take this seriously, it’s an analogy)
Put your oven on 180 degrees, and whilst it’s warming up start beating yourself up. Why you are not good enough. Pointing out faults you have and highlight instances during the day when you messed up things and didn’t meet your own or others’ expectations.
Make sure you add a good pinch of guilt, disappointment.
Then start with your main ingredients, and mix them together. You select which are the main ones today. Then bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
How is your cake looking. And how is your cake feeling?
Do you see why I am making this point?
Here’s another lockdown. You know how you’re “supposed” to react, there is no panic buying in shops, but schools have closed again.
Yet, you noticed that this first week of January has been going on forever. So much to adjust to, or perhaps, so little to adjust. No new information, same old, same old.
And if you look at the above list, or create your own list, what sort of things are on it? And how are you managing?
Old coping strategies might stop working, especially if you find out that you can’t be everything at once. You can’t help your children with their school work if you have to be in two meetings at the same time.
You can’t perform your best at work if you feel really rundown and worn out by not seeing or hugging your loved ones.
If your main coping strategy is to get the hell out of the town/country you live in and explore new places… well, it’s not gonna work is it.
It might even be that you are the type of person who is happy to stay at home and get on with your gaming, hobbies, you name it. But after all this time, maybe even you are tired of this.
AND YOU KNOW WHAT, THAT IS NORMAL.
This time we live in is not normal. You don’t have to carry on like nothing happened. You don’t have control over this – apart from protecting yourself and others.
What you can do is however, focus on what you CAN control. I don’t necessarily mean the obvious things, but the simple, tiny things. Think about it a little.
What’s still within your control?
And how can you help yourself to manage this recipe for disaster, without becoming addicted to Netflix/alcohol/porn/you name it?
Is it possible to let go some of your expectations for yourself? Almost like turning the volume down on some tasks and instead of pushing yourself to perform 100% in all areas (highly likely that this is impossible) have an honest conversation with yourself and re-adjust your expectations. At least for the duration of this lockdown.
Or look at what you can do.
I start a list here and you can pick and choose, or add things:
- plan/schedule – add details to your day, but don’t necessarily add more tasks, less is more in this case
- schedule time just for yourself, for self-care purposes, and try to maintain the main areas: eat, sleep, move your body, rest your mind.
- exercise: walk, jog, whatever you like doing. Do it even if you don’t feel motivated to
- get fresh air – if your exercise does involve outdoor time then this is two birds one stone
- think about what puts a smile on your face, is it possible to do that
- find new things: new recipe, book, food
- get in touch with your creative self – doesn’t have to be fit for Instagram or perfect, draw, paint, sew, knit, make a collage, whatever you enjoy
- go on social media but instead of scrolling, DM a few people you know there. Comment on their stories, comment on posts. Use social media for socialising.
- watch a film together with friends, online
- start a film club, book club, art club etc.
- wear clothes you wouldn’t normally wear
- and the list goes on
Oh and one more thing: start small, especially if you want to re-connect with a previous hobby or start something new. Your tolerance threshold might be lower than you think – you get tired easily, so pay attention to this.
Don’t give up.
If you have a list, then pick one thing. Maybe colour code different things for different days. But pick just one. And then find a time to get started with it – but perhaps starting small means, 5 minute duration for whatever your choosing is. Start small, it doesn’t matter how small.
Of course, the above is not going to be a magic cure. It doesn’t take the stress away. If you feel like things have been mounting up for a while and you need professional support, then you have lots of different options.
· The NHS is still open, they accept referrals for talking therapies – Google “local NHS IAPT service” and follow instructions to make a referral.
· If you are employed, ask your manager if you have an “EAP” programme. Quite a lot of employers do have one and this often means access to a therapist without waiting.
· If you believe you can afford a private therapist – either through health insurance or self-funded way, then look at the main sites: BABCP or BACP and contact a few professionals, try to find someone you feel comfortable speaking to.
This doesn’t have to be a recipe for disaster. You can get through this and come out on the other side. Hope 2021 brings you everything you wish for and more.
The Kingfisher by Mary Oliver
The kingfisher rises out of the black wave like a blue flower, in his beak he carries a silver leaf. I think this is the prettiest world--so long as you don't mind a little dying, how could there be a day in your whole life that doesn't have its splash of happiness? There are more fish than there are leaves on a thousand trees, and anyway the kingfisher wasn't born to think about it, or anything else. When the wave snaps shut over his blue head, the water remains water--hunger is the only story he has ever heard in his life that he could believe. I don't say he's right. Neither do I say he's wrong. Religiously he swallows the silver leaf with its broken red river, and with a rough and easy cry I couldn't rouse out of my thoughtful body if my life depended on it, he swings back over the bright sea to do the same thing, to do it (as I long to do something, anything) perfectly.