its enough

It has been an intense month for the whole world while we all try to adapt to the ‘new normal’ and many of us are feeling like we are just about clinging on by the tips of our fingers…

With many pressures and worries outside of our control (the pressure of becoming the sole educator of your kids, the worry of losing your job and trying to work out how to pay the bills or the constant worry of a loved one falling ill) – it’s important now, more than ever, to focus on the aspects we can control.  

I was put on furlough at work last week; it was tough – only certain people were selected whilst others were asked to carry on working and it was hard not to take that personally…after a week of self-reflection (and some wallowing) it’s time to channel my energy into something positive and I’m looking at this time off work as an opportunity for self-improvement:

Focus on getting the boring shit done first!

Regardless of what situation you find yourself in – there will be some practical things you need to get off your list to clear your mind from the chaos – whether that’s coming up with a learning chart for your kids or exploring what financial relief you can apply for while you’re out of work.

Explore your options and the rights you’re entitled to in your country; for example, if you’re in the UK and have been furloughed – the government is offering to pay your employer 80% of your monthly salary and as of right now this is being offered up until the end of May 2020 – so if you’re worried about your employment or that you’ll be out of a job, it is worth exploring this with your employer as an option.

I found this website to be the most helpful when looking into what we could be entitled to in the UK in terms of financial relief:

https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2020/03/uk-coronavirus-help-and-your-rights

It consolidates advice on rent and mortgage breaks, relief on council tax and utility bills and helpful links to what other providers (such as your mobile phone company) are offering to make things a bit easier on us all.

If you’re not entitled to any relief or decide that you’d rather not rack up the debt (council tax and rent will need to eventually be paid!) – there are still some things you can do to make your situation better and let’s face it – you have time on your hands! Even if you get one thing on your life admin list checked off a week, how good is it going to feel to finally complete the tasks that you ‘never usually have time for’?  

I’ve been putting this off for 2 years (no joke) but I finally switched energy providers this week to save me £370 a year…I found that U Switch was the best comparison site in the UK and made me the largest savings: https://www.uswitch.com/

Focus on the things which will boost your mood.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of comfort eating, drinking too much or leaning on whatever your usual crutch is in hard times.  These things aren’t going to make you feel better though…nourishing your body with healthy food and exercise will! 

So, let’s see this as an opportunity to take on a new challenge while the quiet lasts! I’ve agreed to train for a half marathon with my sister – it takes place in October so there’s plenty of time to train. I’m starting from nowhere and trying to break it down into manageable chunks…I’m starting with ‘Couch to 5k’ and we’ll build on it from there! 

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/couch-to-5k-week-by-week/

If you’re not in a position to go outside, there are still some great things you can do at home; here a are few free resources I have come across:

If you’re bored to death of the things you usually cook – think about mixing it up. In a world where food is currency (and let’s face it the only thing we have to spend our money on right now) try some new recipes!  I’ve been ordering ‘hello fresh’ boxes, a service in the UK which sends you just the right amount of ingredients and recipe cards to cook your evening meals. Each recipe provides you with a breakdown of calories so you can make healthy decisions and avoid the supermarkets at the same time!

De-cluttering your environment is also a good way to help clear your mind and boost your mood – so there’s never been a better time to spring clean.  I’ve made a list of tasks that I’ve been meaning to complete throughout the house (from cleaning the windows to eBaying a load of belongings I no longer use) and over the next 3 weeks I’ll take great joy in ticking them off!

Feed your mind!

Now is the time to indulge in your passions, learn a new skill or simply take the time out to read that book you’ve been meaning to!

Stimulate your mind with positivity to keep that monster called ‘negativity’ at bay – I absolutely LOVE to sing, and I tend to sing most days without being particularly disciplined or thoughtful about it.  It’s been ages since I’ve learnt a new song and really practised it. I’m going to do that next week and I’ll share on here (if I’m brave enough)!

It’s a great time to take advantage of endless free resources on offer at the moment; my friend sent me the following link for a wellbeing course being offered for free from Yale; ‘The Science of Wellbeing’ starts for me tomorrow:

https://www.coursera.org/learn/the-science-of-well-being

There are heaps of other resources out there to keep you occupied too! I mean I literally typed ‘free resources in lockdown’ into google and here are some of the great resources that came up in my search:

Set up a routine to structure your day/week.

I have not been following a routine this week and without this structure I’ve achieved very little – this can feed into my anxiety and I get frustrated with myself where I’m not being productive.  

Tomorrow is a new week – I’ve set my alarm to go off at 8am every day, the plan is to get up, shower and make a small list of things I want to achieve that day – keep it simple and realistic, if you set unachievable goals it will only make you feel worse when you don’t complete them.

It may also help some of you to keep your weekdays and weekends separate. Try accomplishing your more mundane tasks in the weekdays; freeing up your weekends for more fun and recreational activities you can enjoy guilt free.

Listen to your inner child and what they need.

Times are hard right now, without adding unnecessary pressure to yourself; the main thing is that we all come out of this relatively sane! – so if you haven’t learnt a new skill or you come back to civilisation a little fatter than usual – who really cares?  Do the things you want to do because you love them not because you feel like you should (because this is where you’ll fall short and feel like you’ve failed).

We’re all doing the best we can and it’s important to listen to yourself – if you need a day of mindfulness and meditation – go for it, if you need a day on the sofa watching back-to-back episodes of ‘Cheer’ and munching on cookies (it legitimately happened this week…) do it! 

I want to end this article with one question for you all – if there was one thing you could do to make yourself feel better right now; what would that be? Got your answer? Good – now do it! Then give yourself another challenge…keep ticking them off one-by-one and remember; ‘whatever you have managed to do today, is absolutely more than enough.’

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Alison Hames

Alison Hames

I’ve never been one to conform; where other people ‘zig’ – I’ll always ‘zagged’, and in a world where doing the ‘right thing’ is rewarded, life has sometimes been tricky. What I guess I’ve learnt, 3 years on from my trip of a lifetime, is that contentment is a state of mind, it doesn’t come from where you are in the world or your social status, it comes from doing what makes you happy and what makes you feel passionate. This is what I plan on focusing on going forward and I’m excited to share my journey with you all as I go on it!

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