I’ve been finding this week in lockdown particularly taxing. Here’s what I have done that has helped (and hopefully could help you too).
1. Took my foot off the pedal with work and revised my expectations of myself.
I had thought that because I work from home already everything would feel ok with this lockdown. I used to joke with my grandparent’s on our weekly call that I hadn’t unlocked the front door for three days... So I thought that it would be business as usual. Not so. I completely underestimated the emotional and psychological impact that this would have.
The early stages of a new business feel like they are lot about holding your nerve. But those nerves have been somewhat over-exerted of late.
Re-engage with the knowledge that this stuff takes time, and that so long as I work on the business consistently things will get done. Choose two key tasks to complete a day and don’t over-stretch my willpower. Even if those tasks are small, they incrementally move me forward.
Reflect on what I have done rather than what I have not done.
2. Done other things to keep my brain occupied when it feels too overwhelming to work.
My current thing is preparing lessons for my nieces and nephew. I’m excited to be teaching Shakespeare to my eldest niece – it's good to put that theatre background to use. Part of the joy of teaching is learning yourself, so I will come out of it knowing some of the stuff I felt I should know already, but didn’t (a bachelors in drama and ten years in theatre be damned!). Also I'm curious to know what she will think about my teaching style. It's very much a socratic questioning technique and learner-centric, not at all what she is used to at school. I hope that she'll get a lot out of it.
I'm am going to do an hour of philosophy every week with my nephew who is keen, next week, to discuss whether the means justify the ends. Which is right up my street. Start 'em young, I say.
And hopefully while having fun hanging out with the kids I’ll do a tiny bit to lessen their parents’ load.
3. Taken pleasure in the positives that have come out of this lockdown.
It’s definitely been different. When everyday activities like food shopping feel risk laden, and we are avoiding direct contact with other people, invariably that causes a lot of worry. But there have been good things. I have enjoyed eating every last scrap of veg in the fridge and consistently eating well. And I love having company to motivate me to exercise in the living room. I ache in the most obscure muscles, but I’m feeling stronger and taller and more confident already.
4. Enjoyed the sunshine and watching the spring birds returning.
I am a, largely incidental, birdwatcher. That said, I have spent a not inconsiderable amount of my life in hides, or lying quietly on the grass, binoculars in hand, or freezing my arse off somewhere remote staring at some dots in the distance. This week out of the window we have seen blackcaps and a lesser whitethroat, as well as the usual crows, tits, finches, pigeons, buzzards, sparrowhawks… and, get this, a bloody goshawk! I mean that was a huge treat! And thank you to the mobbing crows for drawing our attention to it. This is niche, I realise, but hello to you if you have a clue what I’m on about. If you know, you know.
In these extraordinary times, when the news sometimes seems more like a scene form a disaster movie than real life, rather than beating myself up about working more sporadically than usual, I have tried to go with the flow, to roll with the punches, to be sanguine, pragmatic, gentle, and self-compassionate.
Whatever your own situation, however you find ways to make yourself feel better, I hope that you can find this self-compassion too. A practical tip to access this compassion is to ask yourself “if I were advising someone whose well-being I really value, what would I say to them now?”… then take your own best, kindest advice.