It’s OK to not be OK right now, you know.
It’s a scary time for many and this experience is one none of us has ever been through before, so life is bound to feel incredibly strange and uncertain at the moment. If you’ve been furloughed or lost your job during the COVID pandemic, then you’re probably feeling even more anxious and uncertain about your present, let alone your future.
I want to remind you, before I tackle the practical stuff with you, that it’s really really important that you FOCUS on what you CAN control at this time, rather than FESTER on what you CAN’T. It is what it is. What’s happened has happened.
This big ugly virus is waaaay more powerful and in control than we are.
Life will never be the same again – and that may end up being a good thing!
You can’t go back and create a brand new past. You absolutely have to look forward, through the windscreen of life and NOT through the rear-view mirror, if you’re ever going to step into a new normal – whatever that new normal may look like or sound like or feel like. You cannot stay chained to the gatepost of yesterday, if you want to stand a chance of having a freer, brighter tomorrow. Because if you’re not moving on, then you’re either standing still or moving backwards and neither of these positions is synergetic to success! Neither of these positions will take you where you want and need and should be right now – you HAVE to take action, no matter how small, in order to press ahead with a life worth living. And life definitely IS worth living folks. It may not feel so at the present time for some of us – and rest assured, this too shall pass.
Everyone, in some way or in every way is struggling right now. No-one is totally immune to this pandemic. Some of us are struggling financially. Some of us emotionally. Some of us physically. Some of us practically or logistically. Everything is relative. Our struggles are all based on our perceptions. And we all perceive things differently – that’s what makes us normal human beings. In everyone’s OWN eyes, their plight is worse than anyone else’s. That doesn’t make them selfish or ignorant or self-centred – it makes them NORMAL!
I know I’ve banged on a lot in recent weeks about protecting your mind from negativity – and I’m not going to apologise for banging on about this again today! Staying focused on the things that are within your control is of paramount importance. Start seeking out the good in situations, people, life – so that you start to see that glass as being half full, rather than half empty.
Doing some daily mediation or just having some quiet time to note down the things you feel grateful for is a really smart thing to do right now, because…
“When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears” Tony Robbins. It’s all a matter of attitude – it’s EVERYTHING, remember?
We have to have an Attitude of Gratitude if we’re going to move onwards and upwards. So, focus on getting yourself into a positive state, from the inside out, then follow these simple practical strategies to help you take some proper, focused ACTION during this otherwise challenging, anxious time. It’s all a matter of perception – opportunitiesarenowhere.
Are opportunities NO WHERE or are opportunities NOW HERE?
Remember – you choose, you decide!
Seven Simple Strategies to Manage Matters Mindfully
1. Know your rights
Whether you’ve been furloughed or temporarily laid-off or have been made redundant and lost your job altogether, there are a variety of different government schemes that can help you from a financial and practical perspective. Go to www.gov.uk to find out more. Know your rights, know what you’re entitled to and claim what is beneficially yours – this is no time to be proud or reticent about taking help, monetarily or otherwise, so just go for it!
2. Stay connected
We are emotional beings and connection is a feeling that humans need and crave. When we feel connected to another person, we experience an understanding, an empathy, a meeting of minds, a sense of likeness (when we’re like people, we like people!) and we all need to know that others are on our wavelength, getting our drift, appreciating our model of the world right now. It’s good to talk – and while we might not be able to do it in person at the moment, a virtual get together works just as well. There are all sorts of free video calling services out there e.g. FaceTime, Messenger, WhatsApp, Zoom, Google Hangout, Google Duo, Skype, Viber, Microsoft Teams, WeChat, Houseparty….
We’ve been hearing about all sorts of new weekly ways to stay connected with your friends and family (and meet new friends too) on a virtual level including pub quizzes; cook-alongs, fancy dress parties, Friday night karaoke craics; bingo nights; supermarket sweep (hilarious ) and lots of opportunity to join new online groups, following your hobby or finding a new one and sharing ideas and insights with like-minded people. Make staying connected part of your daily routine. List 3 people you will commit to getting in touch with each day, by ‘phone or video or even text them to let them know you’re thinking of them and send some positive vibes out to them. Remember – what you give out determines what you get back!
3. Take care of your body
This one ain’t rocket science, as you well know! There are trillions of studies out there, proving the physical, psychological and emotional benefits of properly taking care of your body. From healthy eating, to effective sleep and daily physical movement &/or short bursts of high energy exercise e.g. HIIT routines, through to mindfulness practices and yoga, looking after your body is critical for vitality and health in every way – physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually….And it can be a vicious circle or a beautiful loop – our physical health has a big impact on how we feel and how we feel impacts how we behave and the actions we take and the results we get. At challenging times like these, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour that end up making you feel worse.
Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals (small and often is best) and ensure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Get your daily dose of fresh air – even if it is just a brisk walk around the garden or down to the end of your road and back – observing the social distancing rules, naturally!
4. Take care of your mind
We’ve all heard about the body-mind connection and as point 3. explains – taking care of your mind is much easier when you’re taking care of your body. Our external world is a DIRECT reflection of our internal world, so be sure to ‘go inside’ at the start of each day, to prepare yourself mentally for the day ahead.
There are loads of free apps and tutorials online which help you to get & stay mentally focused and mindful. My most favourite is Headspace www.headspace.com, which you can try out for free and which has hundreds of super helpful articles about the art of mindful meditation, including how to get better quality sleep and correct breathing techniques for optimum health.
As already mentioned, keeping a journal or a daily Gratitude Log can be another wonderful way to take care of your mind – finding 3 things that you’re grateful or thankful for each day &/or noting down just one little thing you’ve accomplished today that you feel proud of or pleased to have completed, is a great way to feel mentally proud and strong.
A word of warning about the time you spend watching, reading or listening to the news about the pandemic, including time spent on social media and checking news alerts on your phone….all these activities will have an impact on your emotional health and wellbeing if you focus on them too much, too often – remember, our energy flows to where our attention goes!
So set yourself a specific time to read updates or limit yourself to checking the news to a couple of times a day – and only use trustworthy sources, such as GOV.UK or the NHS website and be sure to fact-check information from the news, social media &/or other people.
Finally, remember that EVERYTHING (yes, literally EVERYTHING) begins with a THOUGHT and “thoughts become things” as Law of Attraction guru Bob Proctor taught us, so ensure you focus your mind on positive, supportive, empowering THOUGHTS today! The great late motivational speaker, Earl Nightingale also taught us that “we become what we think about” so make sure you become mentally healthy and well today with all that positive thinking!
5. Get creative
I’ve heard so many fabulous stories in the last 6 weeks about new-found hobbies and loves, that people never knew they had inside of them before this pandemic hit! TIME seems to be the best gift of all that we’ve been given during this challenging crisis we’ve had to face – and time not only can be a great healer, it can be a great opportunity for us to learn new things (or reclaim old hobbies or interests) too.
I’ve picked back up my Spanish lessons in the last few weeks, having committed to being conversationally fluent by 31st Dec 2020, I wasn’t doing especially well with my goal (due to work pressures and having no spare time) until I was suddenly afforded more TIME to focus on this particular objective, which I set myself in Jan – so now I’m getting back on track and it feels good! I’ve also signed up for a level 1 course in British Sign Language and I’m undertaking a new form of hypnotherapy practice (called Rapid Transformation Therapy) which I plan to include in my toolkit for when I’m coaching private clients, as well as in the work I do with young people in my role as a wellbeing mentor in my local senior school.
Perhaps you could use this additional time we’ve all been afforded to read more; maybe write that book you’ve always wanted to write; complete that jigsaw you started once upon a time; start doing a daily crossword or Sudoku puzzle – or even take up drawing or painting?
My little sister has taken up knitting and is being taught via FaceTime by our Mum, who has the patience of a saint at the best of times! And she’s proving to be an extremely calm teacher to my rather frustrated sister who, having only just retired before the pandemic hit, is finding herself with more time on her hands to try new things, than she ever imagined would be possible in her retirement! So, now I’m looking forward to my woolly scarf for Christmas this year .
Daniel Pink describes Creativity as “giving the world something it didn’t know it was missing” … What could that be I wonder? What could you bring to the world right now that we’ve all been missing? Apparently, according to neuroscience research scientist, Michael Grybko creativity is very much a natural function of the brain, which is NOT just afforded to the privileged few, but to us all – it’s simply our brains “doing what they do” when we give them the time and space to do so. So why not get those creative juices flowing right now – and show the world just what you’re made of!
6. Set up a “new normal” routine
We human beings are creatures of habit. We like structure. We like order. Keeping things in line is good for we humans – so maybe it’s just a question of establishing a new routine? Life is changing for a while and we are likely experiencing some disruption to our old normal routines, so we need to think about how we can adapt and create positive new routines and set ourselves new goals and fresh daily habits.
You might find it helpful to write a structured plan for your day or your week – especially if you are no longer working. Set yourself little milestones to reach each day – even if it’s just to complete 1 key thing each day (like 10 mins of quiet mediation or a blast of fresh air each day). However, keeping to some old routines is also good – try to get up and get ready in the same way as normal, keep to the same hours you would normally work and stick to the same sleeping schedule. These are all good old routines to stick to, although you could set a new time for a daily home workout &/or pick a new regular time to do the housework; read; watch a TV programme or film, or cook something extra-special one day a week
7. Give back!
There is nothing more rewarding than being able to do something for others. We were taught from an early age that we should always give, before we receive and I have certainly learned over the years that what I’ve given out has definitely determined what I’ve gotten back, haven’t you? It makes US feel good when we are good to others – so being selfish in this way, is a good thing right now!
Now is the perfect time to focus on what you can do to help others, who may not be as healthy as you or as positive as you or as happy as you or as generous as you – or even as nice as you! If you can demonstrate a random act of kindness today – especially to someone you wouldn’t normally think to help or be of service to – then it’ll be a win-win, for you and for the person you show kindness to. Behaviour breeds behaviour and attitudes are totally contagious as we know, so ensure that YOURS is worth catching today.
I gave a stranger 2 first-class stamps at the weekend, while we were waiting in a very long queue to get into the newsagents. she commented to me that she only needed 2 first-class stamps and there were at least 9 people in front of her and I, many with parcels galore in their arms and it looked as though we were in for a long wait. “Here, have these” I said, pulling a little book of stamps out of my purse “then I can post them for you when I get to the counter and you can go back and enjoy your Saturday” “…but I haven’t got any cash on me to pay you” the lady said. “Hey, have them as a gift from me to you – it’ll be my random act of kindness for today!” I answered. She was totally blown away and gestured her elbow towards me to thank me for helping her out – I felt as though I’d literally saved her life and we both parted feeling very happy to have met each other! What a tiny, simple thing I’d done, resulting in such huge positive effects for us both!
Small things really can make a BIG difference you know. So try a random act of kindness today – expect NOTHING in return and notice the HUGE rewards you reap anyway! It’s good to give and it’s a great way to make yourself feel good too!
Until next time – stay safe, stay sane and stay FIT!