How to maintain the calm of lockdown in a normal world
Whilst others around you are struggling with lockdown, are you secretly struggling with the thought of not being in lockdown? Perhaps you are thriving in this environment of staying at home. With fewer expectations, many could happily live in this bubble for the foreseeable future.
This can create problems when the pleasurable feeling of enjoyment mutates to a fear of the future. Your mindful way of being becomes blocked by anxious thoughts about going back to managing the pressure of life, meeting the expectations and needs of others, rushing to arrive at places on time.
The good news is that if you have recognised this now, you can start to act. You can start rewriting your script so that you can continue your life in a way that allows the calm to stay.
Recognise what you enjoy and what you fear
Think about what you enjoy about having to stay at home. As someone who struggles to take time for myself, this lockdown has provided me with the excuse I needed to do what I want. To-do lists all around the world are being ticked off faster than ever before and yet, he pride of a fully completed list can be stomped all over by the anxiety of how quickly it will grow once lockdown is over.
As you recognise what it is you relish, write it down. In a separate section, write down what you fear about going back to your old way of living. At the top of your list write the following two statements:
- "Before you assist others, always put your oxygen mask on first."
- "My world improved immediately when I stopped seeking the approval of others and began approving of myself."
And, here are two simple phrases to remind you that:
- You need to be fulfilled in order to fulfil others.
- Your life will improve if you follow your dreams instead of allowing others to tell you what you can and can’t do.
Practise saying no
Do you fear upsetting others? Or feel obliged to say yes to everything?
A "yes" when we really mean "no" can lead to resentment and stress. We say yes because we fear damaging relationships but, in conjunction with clear boundaries, honesty and saying no is crucial for healthy relationships.
Just as children need boundaries to feel safe, so do adults. Be clear and kind, understand that the other person may feel confused at first and react negatively, but with clear consistent boundaries, they can feel secure in their position in your world.
Give yourself a break
Did you feel great when you spent Sunday in the sun, reading a book for the whole day? Would you usually have been rushing around to get ready to go somewhere or panicking as you prepare for the visitors arriving soon? Yes, I did and yes, I would!
Many of us love socialising, but when your calendar gets so full there isn’t any space left for you, it can lead to overwhelm and eventually burnout. Look at your diary now and block out a regular slot. Be strict with yourself and remember how to say no. Keep these slots free for you to do whatever you want to do. You may choose to spend these days with your partner and children, or you may not.
Create a plan with someone that can look after your children in your absence if you need to. Sometimes family days are needed as much as 'me days'. Aim to continue with this in advance of your diary getting filled.
Do the two-minute jobs when you have two minutes
When you have two minutes, five minutes or sometimes even 20 minutes, do you find yourself reaching for your screen? I find it’s so easy to put the pasta on to boil and then scroll for 10 minutes. After all, what can anyone get done in 10 minutes?
Well, you’d be surprised what you can do in two minutes, let alone 10!
Start scanning your to-do list whenever you have any unfilled time, no matter how small. If you’re an uber organiser you may write your to-do list into time relevant sections. This will keep your to-do list down so when you have more time you can complete the big jobs that are forever at the end of the list.
Have you been enjoying time at home with your partner, maybe the extra help, the contributions you have been making or simply the time together? Communicate this.
Write down what you have been doing differently and see what you can continue when lockdown ends. Could you ask your employer if you can work from home a little more? Or perhaps you can switch some things around in your lives to get more time together or split the personal workload differently?
With all of this, take it easy on yourself. Ease off the pressure. We're all dealing with this for the first time, and this slow way of living is new - and uncomfortable - for many. However you wish to spend this time, make sure you are looking after yourself.
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