Hands up if your usual routine, motivation and sanity has gone to pot over the last few weeks… The days merge from one to the next with little recognition of the date, as there’s no defining factor between them. Fridays were once noted by a trip to the cinema, a burger out with friends or a few gins in the pub; Sundays were once pinpointed by that feeling of dread at having to get up at 6.30am and be off to the office; Wednesdays were once identifiable by all the ‘hump day’ posts and the satisfaction that you were half way to a lie-in already. But now every day is spent at home like that hazy period between Christmas and New Year, when you’re full up on turkey sandwiches and organise your evenings only by what’s on the telly.
It’s a very odd time (and one we won’t see the end of for a while) that’s leaving us all feeling a little like we’re treading water – the focus being only on keeping our head above the dark waters below, rather than having the focus or energy for powerful strokes to move you forward. There are so many posts, recommendations and memes doing the rounds encouraging everyone to be their most productive and get sh*t done, but realistically there’s so much to deal with right now that it’s unsurprising that that’s impossible for most.
I read something online this week that resonated more than anything else:
“It’s not a productivity contest. It’s a pandemic.”
Sometimes the fact that we get up and put on fresh knickers is all the achievement we need for the day. There’s a lot to deal with and a lot of information to absorb, so it’s no wonder our anxieties and concerns are overwhelming our brains so much that our concentration and sleep is impacted. My productivity levels have never been lower, but I’m okay with that; I’ll pick up the slack on the other side when there’s some sense of normality, when I can get out and work in a coffee shop and have the foresight and motivation to get it done. When there’s no end in sight and nothing to look forward to, it’s hard to find a reason to bother.
As the days continue to pass there are things I’m doing, however, to keep me as happy and positive as possible. Slowing down and taking the time to enjoy the little things goes a long way, as does just breathing and becoming appreciative of the things we’ve taken for granted for so long. Here are the ten things I’ve been embracing during the lockdown period that have really made all the difference…
1. Getting out every day to walk the dog and have some time embracing the simplicity of throwing a ball. The joy of Archie being able to run about is enough to put a smile on my face and wash away the cobwebs.
2. Doing my hair and putting on makeup twice a week, to remind me what it’s like to feel 100% myself again. More for the process than the end result, and the enjoyment of my beauty regime.
3. Putting on a dress and coordinating accessories, even if it’s just to go to the supermarket or go to the park. Comfy clothes are great, but sometimes a great outfit can put a spring in your step.
4. Reading books, escaping into new worlds and other people’s problems. Afternoons sat outside with a cup of tea and a great story helps me forget, even if for only a little while.
5. Watching as many dramas and documentaries as I can, to feel mentally challenged and stimulated in a new way. I love to learn, I love to think and I love to understand the world around me.
6. Taking the time to cook, bake and experiment with food – using up all those random things in the cupboard, but also, just cake. Cake makes everything better.
7. Allowing music to fill my home, singing and dancing along to everything from Green Day to Backstreet Boys. It makes even loading the dishwasher ten times more fun.
8. Staying connected to my loved ones (be it via message, call or video chat) and re-connecting with friends. Seeing their faces, hearing their voices and just checking in makes me feel less alone.
9. Cleaning the house and taking pride in the home we’ve created. The process not only fills time, gets me moving and leaves me feeling accomplished, but the end result makes me feel happy to be spending so much time in our lovely house.
10. Weeding and prepping the garden, taking time to plan what we want to do with it over the summer months. I’m a rubbish gardener, but I’m trying and take pride in the little things.
11. Giving myself one daily task to complete – whether it’s doing the hoovering, organising my jewellery box or putting a wash on. Knowing I’ve achieved something every day makes me feel so much better.
It’s so important to remember that we will get through this, and that there is light at the end of the tunnel (even if we don’t quite know when that is.) We’ll hopefully all emerge with gratitude and a new sense of community, but until then remember to be kind to yourself – and to others.
What small things are you doing to remain happy and positive right now?
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