By Danielle McKenna
They say that crisis brings out a person’s character and from what I’ve experienced in the last week or so I couldn’t agree more. The action of taking our freedom away has left us all exposed, triggers revealed and temperaments tested.In my circle there has been a huge range from the group I like to call the ‘dig for victory crew’ who are relishing the opportunity to learn how to knit and bake and have already painted the downstairs toilet a deep purple that they will later regret. The ‘keep calm and carry on,’ lot have plans to teach their children Spanish and have frozen enough sausage casserole to feed the Armada.Then we have group who are catastrophising and in the glass is permanently half empty group. This lot like to pass on information from their mum’s cousin’s dog walker about the fact we are on lockdown until 2023 and the conspiracy theories that the government have produced this virus as a type of genocide and survival of the fittest. Perhaps aliens have landed, and Boris would rather we didn’t know. This is not helpful. Nor was their hoarding of loo roll and pasta.
Another group ‘the hippie dippy tribe’ (me) believe that this is a chance for the world and the human race to connect, heal together and emerge in some sort of utopian harmony. The light workers are organising mass meditation and kumbaya by candlelight at 6.00 every night. The fitness crew are doing their very most on Instagram stories and suddenly everyone is an expert on health and fitness. Burpie challenge anyone? Do you even know me Karen?!
Do you know what? Some days I am a mix of all of the above and that’s ok. We are all having very normal reactions to a very abnormal situation. This crisis means many different things to many different people and we need to give ourselves a break as we work through the changes that are happening for us all.
I have been bombarded with meme’s, 80% of which are meant to be funny but are actually seriously unfunny. Like the corona virus’ representation of Chandler Bing, the human race has taken to strange humour to hide the fact we are all shit scared and using this as a defence to stop us from admitting it.
Jokes aside, I am obviously talking (Houseparty obvs) to friends, family and clients about what this means for all of us. What is coming up? What does the future hold and what are we learning from this gigantic pause?
The commonality that I am hearing is despair over not knowing how long this will go on for, obviously health, and the future of our economy. I’m afraid none of us have the answers at the moment, and this lack of control is frightening for many of us. However, we can all find ways to be our own light at the end of the tunnel and look at the elements of our life that we absolutely can control and implement self-care to support it.
Are you making use of your daily exercise allowance and getting into nature either by yourself or with the kids. Just a quick change of scenery can lift a mood and nature can be so reviving. I think after lockdown we are viewing the beauty of Mother Nature somewhat differently. Keep moving and find new ways of entertaining the children through movement. We have just discovered ‘Cosmic Yoga’ and it’s a life saver.
Limit your screen time. I don’t believe that watching the news or listening to every story is helpful. Sure, tune in for the important announcements, but don’t have it a backdrop to your day. The same applies to social media. This can really influence our mood and time spent on Instagram should be rationed as severely as hand sanitizer. Swap it out for music that lifts your mood and makes you happy.
Wake up with a plan so that you have structure around a daily routine. I have set homework for some of my clients to send me a basic timetable of their working week – schedule moments for meditation, exercise, nourishment as well as household tasks and home schooling. This is an opportunity to boost the self-care bank and if you are self-isolating as a family you can take it in turns to give each other an afternoon or morning ‘off.’ Even if this is to just spend some time alone to just ‘be’ or down gin and tonics in peace. (Joking . . . sort of)
Make sure you are nourishing your body and your mind. Alcohol is not an essential when we are feeling anxious as it can be a trigger. I know many of us are using this as a coping mechanism against the boredom and for some of us this is ok in moderation, but be mindful, your waistline and your liver will thank you for it. Use this time to learn a new recipe to feed the family, listen to music together, listen to podcasts that teach you something new, and if you are really struggling with heightened anxiety I recommend some guided meditation to calm your soul which you can find on YouTube.
We are all learning things about ourselves during lockdown. Previously, I thought of myself as some sort of cat that prefers my own company and although generally outgoing, I enjoy being at home too. I have discovered in the past week that I’m probably more dog and I need the energy and connection of the people I love in my life so am scheduling more chats (again, Houseparty), talking more on the phone (who knew you could speak on a mobile haha) and am sending things via the post to people I love. Not being a particularly tactile person, I have surprised myself by being excited about squeezing my friends when I see them (consider this a weird warning guys) and I won’t take human connection for granted again.
My daughter and I wake up every day and think of one thing we can do to make a difference to people and in the process, its teaching her kindness and compassion too. We have put rainbows in our windows to make people smile on their walks. We have sent rainbows in the post to friends and family who live alone, and we have sent videos to people we love and miss. Yesterday we fed the ducks, naturally, with bread I had to defrost first.
Remember we are all in this together, and, like everything else, this too will absolutely pass. It will be a distant memory, but I hope that one day we will look back on this time and remember the dedicated time we gave to our children, a time we all had a reset, we made our health a priority, our real heroes, the NHS were given the acknowledgement they deserve, we realised the value of community and the importance of considering others. All we can do is follow government guidelines, stay at home and love our families.
*In the last day, from the result of my last article, I have heard from many mothers who are struggling to cope with anxiety and very real worries over their future and how to care for their families in our new normal. My heart breaks for them, but also, I want to acknowledge their bravery in reaching out and sharing their very real fears with someone they’ve never met before. We are all in it together and I am happy to help in any way that I can. Please do contact me free of charge via email should you need to Danielle@lionesslifecoaching.co.uk