In my last post, the COVID-19 outbreak was something we all wanted to escape from (and we did a pretty good job of it for an afternoon). It was an unknown, a possibility and one that we all knew was serious, but until this week… I don’t think for me personally, it had really landed how serious it could get and how quickly. The words ‘uncertain times’ have been used quite a lot of late. And that uncertainty, paired with the possibility of hardships, whether in finances, relationships, childcare or otherwise, have created a level of anxiety that is palpable amongst many.
As a nation, we are in the middle of a positive, productive and cohesive effort to keep ourselves and those around us (who may need it more) safe. We are all in this together. Facing the same issues, to varying degrees and with the ability to help each other through.
I can speak for the team here at Rock My Ltd when I say that we want to be of as much service to you through this time as we can. We’re currently trying to help our planning couples over at Rock My Wedding by providing advice on how to cope if your wedding is effected. Adam even built a forum (in 48 hours no less) to allow couples and suppliers a space to support each other through this.
Here at Rock My Style though, we’re planning on turning our posts into a place you can come for practical advice and positivity around small business, managing this time as a family and ensuring you stay healthy in both body and mind.
I, myself, am in a period of voluntary and precautionary self-isolation with my husband and kids. So the advice I’m bringing you below is being stress-tested as we speak. What I’d like you to take from this is that RMS will not be a place of sensationalisation or despair, but rather a place of practical, kind, encouragement. And with that, I’ve listed a few of my thoughts on staying calm and well during this period of time.
Take a Look Around
Have you ever heard of the 5-4-3-2-1 technique? It’s designed to encourage you to get out of your head and into your body. It’s much harder to experience anxiety when we’re not thinking about the past or future when we’re truly present in the current moment. The idea is that you pick out 5 things in your surroundings you can see. Really take the time to notice them, in detail. Then choose 4 things you can feel, the chair under your body, your feet on the floor, maybe even the air on your skin. Next, find 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and lastly, 1 thing you can taste. This could be the coffee you’re drinking or even just the natural taste of the inside of your mouth. This exercise takes much less time than you would think and can be done anywhere. I also shared some great breathing techniques in this post and Lisa wrote a post on how she has coped with anxiety in the past.
Maintain A Routine
Let’s face it, most of our daily routines are or will be out the window in the coming months. But find comfort and normalcy in routine where you can. Even if that’s as simple as taking time to enjoy making your coffee in the morning or maintaining a skincare routine. These little repetitions or rituals can feel like a welcome familiarity in a time of uncertainty. Getting up at the same time in the morning and making sure you get fully dressed can also help ground you whether you’re working from home or having to self-isolate. Keeping a reasonable bedtime and structuring your days can also help.
Consider Your Screen Time
Ironically, social media, the place we often default to for calm, comfort and information can in times like these, leave us feeling less informed, angrier, and more anxious. Limit the amount of time you spend reading, watching or consuming any kind of entertainment or media that is not making you feel positive. However, we are seeing a massive increase in social platforms being used to spread evidence of social bonding (even through distancing), love, joy and kindness. It’s been heartwarming seeing the outpour of the unity of Italians and Spanish in a time of total lockdown. Stay informed by sticking to trusted sources of news and maybe consider only checking in on these at set times of the day that you feel comfortable with. Don’t feel bad about muting keywords or even people who are triggering any kind of anxiety for you.
Use The Gift Of The Internet
Haven’t I just talked about the online world as a place of overwhelm? Yeah, well it’s also one of the most magical inventions on earth. Use the internet to stay connected with your loved ones. Video calls, memes, messages. Connect with others in your situation. Find solutions to problems you’re facing. Support one another and also learn how to make banana bread. You can find kids piano lessons online, make Netflix lists of films to watch and learn new skills. We are in the most well equipped time there has ever been in history to be encouraged to stay indoors. Just know your balance. And be honest with yourself if online use starts to feel overwhelming.
Take Care Of Your Body
Whilst our minds can be endlessly occupied in this day and age, our bodies often suffer the consequences. So make sure you’re doing your very best to eat well, move regularly, get fresh air and good sleep. There has never been a more important time to look after your overall health. This can be as simple as some YouTube yoga stretches, a HIIT workout, playing chases with your kids in the back garden or going for a walk. Your mind will benefit just as much as your body. While food shopping has become a bit more of a challenge and people are stocking up on long-life goods, remember to load your diet with as much fresh produce as you can. Sleep can be difficult in times of anxiety, I’ve experienced this lately myself. I wrote a post on sleep a while back that I have referred back to, so maybe it will help you too.
Make a List of People To Check In On
Often we have our people. The ones we never have to remind ourselves to reach out to, the parents we see on the school run, our nearest and dearest family and friends. But we also have neighbours, acquaintances and online friends in that mix. Have a think about those you want to check in on regularly during this time. Make a list of them. This may sound a bit too much like an admin task for our social lives, but in a time where our regular routines may be disrupted, you might not be bumping into Jack, your 82 year old neighbour on the walk to school. So to keep everyone you know and want to touch base with front of mind, write them down. Then make a point of calling, texting or even slipping a note through their letterbox, just to let them know that you’re there and you can help.
Create a Projects List
Many of us may already have a projects list the length of our arms. But now would be a good time to revisit and revise that list. If you’re anything like me and get a great sense of calm from doing something with your hands, like gardening or cleaning out a cupboard then this could be helpful in the coming weeks. Make your list a good mix of bigger tasks and microtasks. Things you can spend a whole afternoon doing and things you can spend five minutes doing. Having kids at home needn’t necessarily mean you can’t do projects. My plan is to involve my 18 month old and 6 year old. Will it take more time and inevitably cause a holy mess? Yep. But that’s ok.
For my little family of four, we’re already encountering and having to create ways to overcome challenges such as:
– Structuring our kids days (and learning) at home
– Reviewing our finances to cope with a big drop in income and my husband having unplanned time off on Statutory Sick Pay.
– Keeping the house clean with more people in it, more of the time.
– Dealing with the tensions of being together without a break or social life for long periods of time.
But I’m not worried. We’re working through it. And I’m happy to share the things that work for us. I know there are many of you facing challenges perhaps bigger than mine. But in the end, we’ll get past this and it will be a moment in history that we’ll reflect on. The birds will still sing in the morning, the coffee will still smell good and we’ll still be surrounded by magnificent human beings, doing incredible things (NHS staff, I’m looking at you). In the meantime, we just need to keep talking, keep reaching out to each other and helping in any way we can.
Over to you. What content would you like to see here on Rock My Style during this time? What can we do to help you through?