Lee Jones is one of our founding members of the Cat's Pajamas Collaborative - in fact she was the first founding member! Delighted that Lee is sharing her reflections, insight and tips on looking after yourself in lockdown and pleased to be sharing this during Mental Health Awareness Week 2020.
So, lockdown was not something I would have predicted when setting my goals at the beginning of the year. Personally, it has coincided with an ambition to slow down and to focus on those things I value most. The lockdown has helped me to reassess, reprioritise and relax. No-one’s lockdown will be the same though. Like me you may have had spare time enforced upon you, or you may be working longer and harder than ever before. You may be juggling family and home life as well. The physical and mental impacts will be different for each of us and there isn’t a magic solution to get through it. There are so many great resources out there – for health and fitness, for learning, for entertainment, and for switching off. And so much of it is being made freely available during this time. In the next blog I will share some of the resources that have been helping me to slow down and take care of myself. But for now, I wanted to discuss how to take the first steps in looking after yourself in what is a pretty unique situation.
Identify what’s important to you Regardless of lockdown, taking some time to consider what the non-negotiables are in your life can be incredibly valuable and can set the tone for everything you do. Having a sense of the ideas and beliefs that really matter to you – your values – will help you to feel more content and also help you to make better choices. Themes you might want to consider when looking at your values include: health and wellness; family; relationships; career; money; community; entertainment; education. These are just some suggestions to get you thinking. Whilst in lockdown you might want to focus on those values that feel more realistic and achievable for now. But you may also want to consider those values that will be important to you once the restrictions are eased so that you can begin planning for that time. You may have several values but try to highlight your top three so that you can focus and have a clear framework to support your decision-making. You will be more alert when things are getting out of control, once you start aligning your actions with your values.
Find your rhythm You may already work from home and so nothing much has changed in that regard. If, however, this is new to you then you may be struggling to find a routine. Firstly, remember that you are at home during a global crisis and trying to work, not just working from home! Whether you are home alone, or trying to home school at the same time, try and set a schedule or plan for your days. Clearly define when work starts and stops. Make colleagues aware so that they can respect your boundaries. Take regular breaks and move about. Eat well. Stay away from the TV (unless it’s related to your work!). Still having to go into work? A new routine here is also good, especially if your priorities and projects have changed at work. Your environment at home will have changed as well so take some time to think about what you can do to switch off when you finish for the day or at the weekends. And consider how you will fill your free time if your usual activities aren’t available to you.
Take care More than ever health and wellness should not be neglected. Working from home may mean you are moving about less than usual. You may not have easy access to green spaces. What you eat and drink may have changed (for better or worse!). You may be feeling anxious about lockdown or becoming ill. Or you may be seizing the opportunity to focus on your wellbeing. Consider this when you look at your values and work out your routine. No matter what your situation, the most important thing is that you take some time for yourself. It might only be five minutes, deep breathing in the bathroom, with the door locked. But they will be the most glorious five minutes. And don’t be scared to ask for help if you need it – whether its friends, family, your community or professional support – someone is always there.
Don’t beat yourself up It can be pretty overwhelming when you go online and comparison culture kicks in. I mean why can’t I bake the perfect sourdough and banana breads, go for a 10k run and then paint a magnificent masterpiece all in one day? Social media in particular can make you feel that everyone else is having a better lockdown than you. But these are just edited snapshots of people’s lives. Everyone will be experiencing the same feeling of overwhelm at times. There is no right or wrong way to feel or behave. It took some time, but I’ve come to realise that I’m not a lockdown failure; I’m just being realistic with my time, clear on what I need for my own wellbeing and managing my expectations.
If you want to connect with Lee you can follow her on Twitter via @leecjones