It’s taken me a few weeks to process my thoughts on the crazy state of the world. Who would have thought that in our lifetime we would live through a pandemic that would restrict us to our homes, threaten our livelihoods, and take away our vulnerable loved ones? It’s like something from a sci-fi movie. A bad one!
Like many, I’ve felt really up and down about things.
Being able to work from home every day: WOO!!!
Fear of losing my job: WAAH!!
Not having to go to that boring party: WOO!!!
Having to cancel my Fiji holiday: WAAH!!
Look, to be honest, I’m still processing my thoughts on this every day. Aren’t we all? But mostly I’ve arrived at a good place for now. I had one really bad day where I let the anxiety and stress take hold, and I’ve gotta tell ya… it sucked. I felt physically ill, I was an emotional wreck, I couldn’t focus on anything productive, and everything felt doomed. But I pulled myself out of it. Because I remembered that I have the power to do that. And so do you.
I want to share my thoughts and my processes with you, but I’ve been really conscious of the fact that everyone is going to experience this differently. Some will lose jobs, others will lose parents, and some will just completely lose their minds from having their kids at home all the time.
I don’t want to be that person who tells you to “look on the bright side – you have plenty of time to exercise now!” when you may have lost a beloved grandparent or parent to this vicious virus. I think it’s so important to try and find some blessings in every single day, but it’s equally important to acknowledge that for some people, this is not just about being locked away at home for several months. It’s about fear and loss and unimaginable grief.
So here are 8 ways I am coping with COVID-19 isolation, and if you can take something from this, please do.
8 ways I am coping with hard times
Picturing my future self
When we come out the other side of all this, I want to look at myself and see a strong, resilient, resourceful, and happy woman. I don’t want to be broken, depressed, or trapped in a heap of bad habits. So when things are feeling hard and I’m tempted to curl up on the couch and scroll through Facebook, I think about which future self that is more likely to lead me to. And in most cases, that’s enough to get me off for a walk, or into the kitchen to prepare a meal for my family.
I have been doing a short meditation using Headspace every day. It only takes around 5 minutes or so, but the techniques I have learned from that pop up throughout the rest of my day. When I start feeling stressed I can take a moment to focus on my breath and feel the weight of my body sinking into the chair beneath me. I listen to the noises around me and notice the feeling of the air on my skin or the smells around me. It’s an instant relaxation technique and it brings me back to the present moment where I can then take control of my thoughts.
Controlling my thoughts
Reminding myself every day that the only thing I can control is my thoughts. And it’s my thoughts that will create my feelings which will lead to my actions and results. When I start to feel anxious or upset, I force myself to slow down and analyse what thoughts are making me feel that way.
Acknowledging my fears
When I feel afraid or anxious I don’t try to make it go away. But I do try to think about the fear and how rational it is. One useful question when analysing your fears is, “so what?” As in, “so what if that happened? What would you do then?” Quite often this leads me to realise that while it might be bad, it won’t be the end of the world. In some cases it might even present an opportunity.
Moving my body
Especially when working from home, it’s so easy to sit at my desk all day and not move. Getting up and moving every day helps to keep me active, pain-free, and most importantly, in a good mental state. Just going for a quick walk to get some fresh air and get the blood pumping through my body has been enough to completely change my mindset. I was in huge pain with my back one day and wondered what would happen now that I can’t go to my chiropractor. I did a yoga session from YouTube and voila – my back was better!
We hear about gratitude all the time and how much difference it can make. But I’m always blown away by how much difference it makes! And now more than ever I am finding so much to be grateful for. Thinking about things you’re grateful for can lift your mood, but writing them down or talking about them with someone else really amplifies the feeling.
Look, to be honest with you, I actually don’t mind a little bit of social isolation. My introverted self was secretly dancing like Elaine from Seinfeld when we were first told to isolate.
The hardest thing for me though, is being “cut off” from family. But when I feel sad about that, I remind myself that we are not “cut off” at all. We are keeping them safe, and in the meantime we have so many options for staying connected. Messages, phone calls, video calls, sending letters etc… it just takes a conscious effort to pick up the phone and stay in touch.
Not allowing boredom
Many years ago I heard the phrase “only boring people get bored”. And since then, I have not allowed boredom to ever be a part of my life. In fact, I can’t even imagine being bored! On the rare occasion that I find myself at a loose end, I ask whether there is actually nothing to do (ha, as if!) or if it’s just that I don’t feel like doing anything. If I don’t feel like doing anything, it’s probably because I feel like having a rest. And that leads me to intentionally having a rest, or finding something that I do feel like doing (or needs to be done).
Please reach out
If you are struggling with isolation, fear, grief, or boredom, please feel free to get in touch. If you just need someone to chat with, I am here. I am also offering free coaching* sessions with no strings attached. Why would I do this? Because it’s one tiny way that I can contribute to the world at this mad time. I want to help you get control of your thoughts and set a clear path forward.
If you’re interested in this, contact me and state in your message “I want free coaching!” Tell me a bit about what you’re looking for support with, and I’ll be in touch to book you in.
*Two sessions per person, subject to available appointment times, ends 30 June 2020.
You will get through this
For some people, especially those who have lost an income or a loved one, this could be the toughest time they endure in their lifetime. Others will only have to endure isolation and changes to their lifestyle for a while. Especially if you fit into the latter category, it’s important to be grateful and be kind. We will get through this, and the world may look different on the other side, but that may not be such a bad thing.
Stay safe, stay well, and stay home.