Staying at home 24/7 during the corona virus lock down period has meant accessing a few reserves I did not know I had. It’s been quite an effort at times to keep on, keeping on.
I am a simple creature with a very even temperament, not hugely excitable but not massively pessimistic either. I enjoy life, I love my job, I have a gorgeous family and a close-knit circle of friends who all know me better than I know myself, it turns out. I tend to crack on with each day and deal quite well with whatever life throws at me. I also know I am at my best when under a little bit of pressure to do more, be bolder and stretch myself.
So, when Boris told me to stay at home I thought “yeah, sure thing, good idea, no problem!” I love being at home. I love working from home. I love having my family around. This would also give me a chance to do some things from my “save for a rainy day” list in the extra few hours clawed back from not rushing around like a mad woman. I also love being efficient. Awesome. Yet…
Surprisingly, the biggest challenge for me so far has been in managing my less than consistent energy levels and maintaining a positive outlook. I’m not sure if it’s PMT ‘gone large’, but I’m realising how patient my family really are, either that or they’re just not listening and ignoring me! So I’ve had to find some ways to keep on, keeping on.
What I have learnt
I was doing some LinkedIn learning the other day (an item on my rainy day list) and I came across some episodes from a podcast called “How to be awesome at your job”. The episode I happened to listen to was about how to have a good day, because that’s the kind of mood I was in!
- Waking up in the right mood
Every couple of days I seem to wake up on the wrong side of bed. I know this is quite normal, but it seems to have been exaggerated since the lock down. What was funny or okay yesterday is, today, hugely frustrating and makes me feel angry or sad. So, I’m practicing the art of letting go, taking a breath and using distraction techniques to focus on the positives, plus a ritual of daily exercise, ideally outside. This helps massively.
- Channeling the right song
There are some songs that really change your mood for the better. I sometimes find myself wondering round the house in silence and feeling a bit ‘meh’, almost forgetting that music exists in my life. I remember to turn on Gloria Gaynor, Aretha, Cold Play or Queen (yes, you can tell how old I am!) and have a damn good sing. Suddenly the world feels better. In fact we’ve now changed our deezer subscription so everyone in the family can listen to their own uplifting tunes when they want on their own devices. What is one person’s song, ain’t necessarily everyone elses!
- One thing at a time
When your entire life is run and managed out of the same four walls, everything can become a bit confused, even more so if you consider yourself to be a gold star multi-tasker (mmm, that’s me!). However, I’ve learnt that multi-tasking can become the root of all evils. Latest thinking in behavioural science suggests that multi-tasking leads to a lack of focus and therefore lower productivity levels. If you can compartmentalise your activities into bite-sized chunks, no matter how small, focused on one thing at a time, you’re more likely to reap success both from an output point of view (if that’s your motivator) but also from a mental health point of view. This is still work-in-progress where I’m concerned but I’ve started with establishing a clear structure to my day and allowing myself regular periods of being “on” and “off”. It’s starting to work!
- Finding purpose and meaning
Finding meaning in what you are doing enables a sense of fulfilment. This is so important, as it gives you a reason to keep on keeping on! You can find meaning in most things if you try hard enough, but the challenge is whether its motivating enough for you to keep on, keeping on. It could be an existential purpose related to making you feel like a “better” person, or it could be a very practical purpose such as keeping your family fed! I find my days at home are a mixture of both. The to-do list helps me to keep motivated by enabling a sense of accomplishment each day, whereas the hours spent snuggling on the sofa with my children help me to feel like a connected, happier mum. Both have meaning and purpose for me.
- Train your brain to notice
This should really be no.1 on the list, however its the hardest thing to do. In order to do anything about what you’re feeling and thinking, you first have to notice what you’re feeling and thinking. This take practise! Start to pay attention to what makes a good day, and what makes a less good day. For me it always starts with a hug and receiving a smile from at least one person in my household!
Let me know how you keep on keeping on during difficult times and if you want to talk it through, please get in touch for a chat.