There is little doubt that we are all living through very difficult, uncertain and unnerving times. The whole world is gripped by Coronavirus and oddly enough, the world has never felt more connected. This pandemic has crossed barriers, eradicated questions of colour, race, class or social positioning. It can affect anyone at any time, and yes, it is scary.
But amongst all the negative press that we see and read every day, it is important to try and see the silver lining. It’s all too easy to fall into a negative headspace when we really need to stick together and focus on the positive.
Right now, in the UK, we are not on official lockdown or isolation, but the shops, cafes, bars etc are all closed. There are no cinemas, shopping centres or sports centres to go to and the only reason we are allowed out is for essential food shopping or to the pharmacy. We are encouraged to not see friends or anyone outside of our home. Mother’s Day came and went while we were told the best thing we could do was to not visit our mothers. I’m lucky enough to live with mine but I feel for everyone else who does not.
Similarly, birthdays will pass without parties, gatherings, drinks and afternoon teas. Our social lives are put on hold or non-existent. We cannot just pop to the shop or go for a nice stroll (although a daily walk is currently allowed) and on the surface, we seem to be at a disconnect.
Without the commute to work or usual work stresses, we are having to find a “new normal” and perhaps we have more free time. So, what do we do with that time to ensure we don’t fall into a trap of self-isolation?
Despite the apparent status of being alone and isolated we must remember that we are not alone. We are, in fact, more connected to the rest of the world than we have ever been. We are all going through this to varying degrees of extremity. But we are in it together.
Amidst talk of fear and worry, it is also heart-warming to hear of all the ways people are getting creative to stay in touch. From virtual pub quizzes and board games to group facetime calls and online workouts, we are making the most of technology! It goes to show how much we can do with a little help from the world wide web.
A few little things we can do to make sure that isolation does not turn into feelings of being alone:
Take advantage of online activities
There are so many free and paid-for online yoga classes and workout sessions. Everyone is talking about Joe Wick’s 9am PE slots on the internet, and similarly, friends of mine are hosting their usual PT, group HIIT or yoga flows online via apps like Zoom. They work a treat and provide much more motivation to work up a sweat than just doing it alone. And you don’t have to have your camera on, so don’t worry about people seeing you!
Reach out to friends
Contact the friends that you usually only text and book them in for a group chat! Make sure everyone is free and use one of the many tools out there to catch up with everyone. An hour talking with friends and hearing their news will really bring a smile to your face.
Are you missing your coffee dates as much as I am?
Make a latte at home, treat yourself to your favourite mug and even a little froth and phone a friend. Sit there with your drinks and watch the world go by. Better yet, whip up some pancakes and turn it into a virtual brunch date.
Make the first move
Don’t be afraid to be the first one to suggest an online call with friends you don’t usually speak to on the phone. They’ll be so pleased that you reached out as they, too, are feeling the same.
When you chat to people, too, don’t pretend everything is OK. It is perfectly OK to not feel OK at a time like now. I bet they’ll understand how you feel.
Try to get a little movement into each day
We all know that endorphins are good for our mental health. Better still, if you’ve got a garden, have a coffee outside and breath in the fresh air. A change of scenery is always a good idea.
Routine is key
Establish your “new normal” and stick to it. Maybe it means you work 8-4pm days instead of 9-5pm or you do a workout over lunch for example but try to wake up at the same time and have a structure to your days, so they don’t waste away.
See if there are any volunteer groups near you
The feeling of being needed and being able to help others more vulnerable will keep you feeling connected to life.
The joys of journaling
Perhaps now is the perfect time to start or continue to keep a journal. Writing gratitude lists or note down things that went well each day. Picking up on all the positives or little wins – no matter how small – will lead to an overall sense of content, calm and good vibes.
Support local businesses when you can
Knowing you are buying your essentials and supporting someone else’s dream really gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling. I am so happy to hear so many smaller brands doing well and witness their businesses thriving but not all of them will be so fortunate.
Now, these tips are not revolutionary or ground-breaking but they just may well be life-changing and life-saving. Now more than ever, our health – physical and mental – is the most important thing. We have to protect it, look after it and look after ourselves and others around us. We are all in this together.
Let me know how you’re feeling in the comments below and take a look at previous Monthly Musings posts now.