The latest lockdown in the UK is affecting everyone in different ways – but it is a pretty safe assumption that everyone is feeling it.
For some, who live alone, it’s the isolation. For others, it is the pressure of working from home and home-schooling at the same time. There is a feeling of their days blending into each other and things happening yet nothing is getting done. Add to that financial concerns and job insecurity it’s a pretty stressful time for most.
This is the first in a series of three blogs which will look at how to cope with these pressures, and how to lead a more contented life in these unusual times.
Looking at what’s there
A common problem people are facing with lockdown is 'overwhelm'. There are
Cabin fever from being cooped up.
Working from home with no boundaries
Caring for bored irritated children
Keeping the peace as tempers fray
Not everyone has a home which can morph itself as - a home office for multiple adults, online school for children as well as the space to give everyone some alone time. Then there is a constant battle to adapt to the new normal at the same time maintaining a pre=lockdown pace of life.
As CS Lewis said “We must stop regarding unpleasant or unexpected things as interruptions of real life. The truth is that interruptions are 'real life.'”
Therefore, we need to pivot our thinking so that instead of focusing on what you can't do like before we rewire our thinking to what is possible now.
Which way is the highway?
We like our research, we are a Google generation. Whenever faced with a problem the first thing we do is ask the internet, read a bunch of advice, case studies and form our opinion. But this situation can't be solved like that, we need to charter our own path.
Transitioning into an online environment may seem easy with the added bonus of not having to travel, getting people more accessible and making us a part of their lives. But it has its downsides. Swapping to online life is actually more tiring, as it is additional screen time, which can have a detrimental effect on health.
For example, a study carried out in 2017 showed that in the US, adults were more likely to suffer from depression if they spent more than six hours a day in front of a screen (tv, computer, phone). How many hours in front of a screen did you have yesterday?
Added to this is the lack of time to process the information thrown at you, which we usually do during the 'commute.'
The constant burden of meetings, managing other parts of your life, the guilt of not doing enough, not getting me time - Talk about mental overload.
Unfortunately, there is no set way of how to deal with this!
Coping with overwhelm
`How do we then deal with this overwhelm?
The biggest step as well as the biggest challenge is to adjust your expectations. Getting your brain to understand there is a reason this is called the 'New Normal' cause its different than how life used to be.
The second step is to prioritise your non-negotiables - Yes work, schooling, house hold, relationships etc etc. all are important, but we can't do everything. Accepting that and prioritising activities that match your values, in the long run, can help.
The third is to look at your negotiables, more often than not we put our own needs and self-love at last. I've no idea why we do that, but there is this sense of not giving enough importance to ourselves. So, relooking at them can help boost the sense of wellbeing. For eg.
·Daily exercise – this doesn’t have to be a ‘workout,’ it can be a walk in the park, climbing trees, tracking animal prints in the snow, dancing to your favourite playlist, literally anything to get you moving and preferably outside!
Rest – it is important to take a break when you need it. Even five minutes where you take a step back can help to clear the mind.
Time alone – although humans are social animals it is important to have a few minutes to yourself. This is essential for every member of the family. Even when all at home, try to give everyone space. You don’t need to entertain them 24/7.
Time to talk – it’s important to talk about how you are feeling. You may be surprised to find your partner, friends and family are all probably feeling the same.
There is no one size fits all on coping with 'overwhelm'. Everyone’s situation is unique in regard to what they are juggling. But accepting the fact that you don’t have to make everything perfect, we are all in the same boat, surviving and doing the best we can. And if despite everything you do the anxiety is not abating, then it might not be a bad idea to seek help. There are a lot of agencies that provide pro bono counselling/ coaching.