Updated: Apr 21, 2020
In a time where things are hard for everyone, we are all doing our best to get through it in our own way, and help each other out as much as possible.
As someone who struggles with anxiety regularly, my moods have been very up and down lately and I have had to find new ways to remain positive in a scary and uncertain time. Even though I have been self employed for a long time and I am used to working from home, I struggled in the beginning to manage my time properly as my mood and motivation can change from one moment to the next.
Just before lockdown was put in place, my partner had also become self employed and started working from home as well. So we were suddenly under each other's feet all the time - just trying to find the best way to stay sane and not become couch potatoes surrounded by misery and each others mess!
So in the spirit of helping others, I have decided to share some of the things that have really helped me make the most of the current situation, and kept me positive and healthy.
1. Make a schedule
During times like these, its so easy to lose motivation. Things are so uncertain at the moment that, if you are anything like me, you wake up in a good mood feeling ready to get loads done - and by lunchtime you've lost the will to bother. You try to push on but all your tasks now seem so pointless that in the end you give up. And then you start to feel guilty for not getting enough done, and promise yourself you'll get it done tomorrow. Go to bed, wake up and repeat.
Sound familiar? I feel your pain.
This was me for the first few weeks, stuck in that cycle and wondering if it would ever end. I started to think about what was causing it and what I could do about it.
Ok - so I'm stuck at home - and I know I don't want to waste this time - but what I was doing was putting too much pressure on myself to get things done. There are so many tasks I want to get done around the house, as well as daily things I need to get done. So many tasks all swimming around in my head, that I just couldn't complete any of them. Even making lists of them just highlighted how much I needed to do. Things would take longer than I thought they would, and all I would do was worry about the things I HADN'T done, rather than be glad about what I HAD achieved.
This is when the schedule idea happened. Not just for me, but for me and my partner to manage tasks more effectively. I made it fun, colourful and interchangeable. Each task is colour coded - yellow for work, pink for fun etc. The tabs are each individual and can be moved during the day if things come up, or I change my mind - but I stick to it as much as possible, without worrying if I run slightly behind as the schedule shows me where I can make that time back.
This helped in a huge way, as now I put my schedule for the day together every morning at breakfast with my partner, and then we both go about our days. We don't need to bother each other during work times or times we want to be alone as the schedule tells us what that person is doing at that time. It has eliminated the time spent getting anxious about what task to do next or worrying if I am going to have enough time to still get the next task done.
I'm organised, and therefore more productive.
2. Get up in the morning, get dressed and do your hair and make-up
I know, I know. This one seems pretty pointless when your'e not going to see anyone, and there's certainly nothing wrong with enjoying a day in your pjs! I also think its important to have a rest day every now and then.
Generally though,the problem with staying in pjs all day for me, is that I can be really lazy when I want to be. I find that sitting around in my pjs encourages me to do just that, sit around. Even if I manage to do tasks I find they take much longer, because I don't feel ready for a productive day. Then I want to stop and do nothing earlier than I probably should.
Of course, some people don't wear makeup as a general rule anyway, and if that's the case then obviously skip that part. There are days where I skip the makeup to give my skin a rest.
The point of this exercise is really to get ready for the day ahead, as you would if you were going out to work.
Yes it takes a bit of time, but it makes a difference. I build it in to my schedule and usually allow an hour in the morning for showering and getting ready. I find doing this allows me to make the most of my day. Doing my make up and hair also makes me feel good and more confident, which ultimately sets me up for a more positive day and means i'm more likely to hang on to that good mood.
3. Keep active and do your drills and stretches
But I just want to watch TV and eat cake! Eugh, I know. Some days this one can be a real struggle to push myself to do.
I know everyone says it, but keeping our bodies moving really does make a huge difference to our wellbeing. Not to mention how good you'll feel when all this is over and you can show your friends how much you've improved!
There are so many ways to work out at home, even if you have no equipment. All you need is a soft mat so you don't hurt yourself, and you're good to go.
I was determined not to let my training and skill development suffer during this time, but if your'e struggling to find the get up and go you need, try challenging a friend to video call you and workout together. Lots of coaches (including me!) are also offering video calls at this time to help keep your skills on track, so reach out to them, they are bored at home too and want to help!
Alternatively, there are some good apps you can get that help you workout from home and track your progress as you go. If you'd like to know my recommendations for the best free apps to use, stick around as I will be posting those shortly!
4. Learn a new skill
Ok, so I'm one of those people that has lots of things in mind I'd love to know how to do. I promise myself that in the future when I have the time I will learn them. Thing is, that's a myth. Because even if there are times in my life where I do have more time - I'm either savouring it by resting, or filling it with something else! So learning new things tend to get delayed until they just never happen.
This is where a silver lining in this whole lockdown situation is found for me. I no longer have an excuse. I've seen many people on social media have been re-decorating the house or sorting things they've been meaning to do for ages. I too, have managed to rearrange a few rooms (couldn't help myself).
But still, I felt if there's ever a time to learn something new, this is it. Especially at a time where there are many teachers / apps / companies that are kindly offering their help and resources for free or discounted rates to help us all out.
Access to what you need is easier than ever.
So, I bought a second hand guitar from someone in my local area, found some resources online, and off I went.
Of course, I am still working from home so I have to keep my time organised and fit guitar playing in to my schedule, but I find anywhere from 10 minutes up to an hour a day is enough to keep learning and improving.
5. Spend some time in the garden
This is one you'll see on most peoples lists of how to stay positive in hard times, things you can do to help your anxiety and depression etc. As we know, spending time outdoors can do wonders for your mental health and give you vitamins you need to stay healthy and awake.
A lot of articles you read will suggest you go outside for at least 30 minutes every day. And with sun being out recently, its hard not to feel guilty if you don't squeeze at least a little outdoors time into your daily schedule. The only problem with that, is when!? I have so much to do during the day!
So my best advice, is to try to find something on your schedule you can combine with going outdoors.
My partner and I have used our time to do a bit of work on the garden, setting up a bird house and feeders, tidying and decorating with lights so we can spend warm evenings out by the chimineer.
Other days. I will sit and have a cuppa out there while I do my guitar lesson, or sculpt for a little while. I built an armature for a little fellow i'm working on, I just sit and work on him whilst working on my tan. (I'm more likely to come out looking like a lobster, but I can dream).
The other one you can do, of course, is combine it with your daily exercise if you have a nice scenic area nearby, or even a bit of space in your garden you can make the most of.
6. Video call your friends and family
This one is essential. I think I've spoken more to my friends since lockdown began than I usually do in this amount of time! In times like this we are all affected, and therefore connected more than ever.
Just like exercise, a human connection can really improve our day to day wellbeing, and often we don't realise how much we need it until we reach out.
Its important to remember that if you are feeling worried, down or just a bit lonely at this time, you are not the only one! There is someone on the other end of a video call who is feeling the same and would love to chat with you, or even play a game, watch tv, anything at all - just be glad for the company.
Friends and family can also be very motivating when you are having one of those days where you wonder why you bother!
There are lots of apps you can use to video call. Facebook and Whatsapp both have this function and there is always the old Skype, although I personally find that a bit clunky. If you would like to chat to several people at at a time, my recommendation would be using Zoom. Its secure and allows you to talk to many people on one video call. The free version normally only allows you a 40 minute call, but in the current situation they have removed that restriction for now. So make the most of it while you can!
So those are my 6 best tips for staying sane in all the madness! These wont work for everyone of course, do your own thing, these are just some of the ones that have been working for me and hopefully I can inspire someone. Even for someone who does all of these - there are still days I just stay in bed eating chocolate and binge watching Netflix! But I forgive myself, get up the next day and start again - because ultimately, no matter what the situation, we must stay safe, stay healthy, stay connected, and stay cheery!
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