How to Try to Thrive not just Survive in Lockdown
How to Try to Thrive not just Survive in Lockdown
Indisputably we are living through a major global pandemic of which one of the consequences will be regular lockdowns, whether you agree with them or not. Again, undeniably, the next few months will be extremely challenging for many individuals, their families and businesses. Over the past few months whilst providing Resilience Coaching, Outplacement Coaching, pro bono Coaching and pastoral care, I have heard some incredibly sad stories. By now most of us have either had coronavirus, know someone who has been hospitalised, or very sadly passed away with Covid-19, or we know someone who is now tragically living with a terminal illness as a result of cancelled scans or hospital appointments during the previous lockdown. Many of us haven’t been able to see our loved ones for months due to travel restrictions or because our vulnerable relatives and friends are shielding; regrettably hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs or businesses. We will all need to continue to try to adapt and find ways to deal with the ongoing changes and uncertainty. Even the most resilient individuals have had to dig deep to adapt to major challenges since Match last year.
At the moment as we have to cope with the darker Winter months, for many it’s difficult to see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, apart from waiting to be vaccinated and hoping one innoculation will provide enough protection against all new variants of the virus, but things will ultimately get better. Anyone who has grandparents or parents who survived the second world war will have heard their personal stories of hardship, but also of bravery and resilience over 6 long years. If you think back to some of the worst times in your life, chances are that you will have eventually got through them and learned to live with the aftermath of major tragic life events. Often the key is to take small steps each day to cope better. So, even if it really doesn’t feel like it now, it’s time to hang on to hope and work on developing your ability to bounce back from set-backs and focus on what you have and can do, rather than won't you don't have and can't do.
1. Identify the emotions that you are feeling right now; chances are they are one or more of the following: anxiety, shock, blame, denial, anger, confusion, panic, despair, resistance, fear, frustration, disillusionment, desperation, disbelief. Anyone familiar with the Change Curve will recognize these emotional responses to change and uncertainty. Try to deal with these negative emotions by looking at the facts of the situation and providing rational statements, as opposed to asking yourself questions beginning with ‘what if x,y, z...happens? ’
2. If your thoughts are spiralling downwards, thinking about all the potentially awful outcomes of the lockdown and virus, it’s important to pay particular attention to your ‘self-talk.’ If it is very negative, try to come up with some positive statements and affirmations to counteract your inner critic. Try changing your thoughts from ‘Suppose x,y,z happens to me’ or ‘Will I be able to rebuild my business? ’ to ‘I WILL get through this because…I got through the previous lockdown/recession/local floods…’
3. Limit your exposure to the news and social media; try to get factual information and advice from the most reliable sources. That way you will be able to make more informed decisions about your actions and future plans. And don't compare yourself to others, as you have no idea of their own personal circumstances and hidden battles.
4. If you are feeling angry then channel that anger in to creating some positive goals, for example, to get fit or fitter by the end of this lockdown or by the end of the year. And decide on a creative project; if you’ve already decorated the house and landscaped the garden during the last lockdown, try starting to learn a new language or a musical instrument, or getting a qualification through online courses. If you are fit and able, then volunteer to help others. The more you can be creative and achieve some positive outcomes over the Winter, the better, more satisfied and rewarded you will feel.
5. During the last lockdown alcohol sales rose by 31% in the UK, with the sale of clothes dropping by the same amount! Although it might be tempting to eat and drink your way through another lockdown, it will be much more satisfying if you look at all the ways of improving your health and self-care. That way you'll be in a better position to deal with the threat of the virus and it's associated impact.
6. Getting exercise in the fresh air is a simple but effective way to feel better, both mentally and physically. Even though the weather isn’t as amazing as it was during the previous lockdown, with the right clothes on it is still very rewarding to get out for a wet and windy walk or run, even if it’s only for 10 minutes before or after work to clear your head. The quote attributed to many is so true: 'There is no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes.'
7. If you are used to a busy life and hurtling around, then take the time to really appreciate your surroundings and the more simple things in life. During the first lockdown it seemed that one of the by-products was a real community spirit and countrywide feeling of empathy, however, clapping for carers seems to have been replaced by general lockdown fatigue and sadly genuine acts of kindness appear to be long forgotten. Anyone with a religious faith or who practices mindfulness or meditation is more used to living in the moment and enjoying the present. And anyone who lives in the countryside and is used to losing their water or electricity supply tends to be more tolerant and appreciative of the basics of life. So, try to be grateful for the little things and small positives, such as a telephone call with a friend.
8. Every time you feel stressed, identify how you can combat that, whether it is calling a friend for a chat, watching one of your favourite boxsets as escapism, or even dancing round the kitchen to your favourite song! Find out what works best for you and don't beat yourself up if you haven't run 5k or baked cakes for the local charity; don't compare yourself to others, instead focus on what you are capable of each day and be kind to yourself.
9. If you are fortunate to work from home, ensure that you have a dedicated space for your laptop, your posture is good, you don't lounge around in a track suit all day, you take regular breaks and have boundaries between work and your home life in order to have a healthy work/life balance.
10. There is a lot going on that is outside our control at the moment: the virus, the politicians’ responses, the weather, other peoples’ behaviours and attitudes, alarming and negative social media posts. The key is to focus on what you can control which is:
- your own attitude
- your own behaviour and actions
- your own responses and reactions
- how much time you invest in worrying - often needlessly!
- how much TV you watch, alcohol you drink, or cakes you bake or eat!
- how much you exercise and look after yourself
- the amount of effort that you put in to making your lockdown experience as comfortable as you possibly can
- the level of kindness you show yourself and others
- And, very importantly, recognizing when it is time to ask for help and contact the many support services available
The start of 2021 was always going to be extremely challenging resulting in everyone experiencing another roller coaster of emotions at different times. Trying to live with more ambiguity and approaching major issues, uncertainty and change with hope and more of a positive outlook can result in better outcomes in the long-run.
Stay positive, stay safe and shout if you need any more tools and techniques to cope better with lockdown.