How to survive lockdown with your mental and physical health in tact!
How are you doing with a routine now we’re 4 weeks in?
You probably started with gusto, doing Joe Wicks (honest it’s for the kids!) every day, meal planning, home schooling, but then the Easter weekend maybe put you out of kilter or the excitement of 30 mins of jumping about every morning has waned.
So things have maybe gone a bit array, or they may well not have been established in the first place.
Maybe the morning starts a little later than usual, with kids in PJ’s until midday (doesn’t happen here obvs!!) or maybe you’re trying to cram in a couple of hours first thing before the kids need the attention and basically grabbing precious minutes here and there to answer emails. And then simultaneously thinking you’re a terrible parent as the kids are getting more screen time than usual.
I’m not going to lie it’s been tough. I thankfully have the 'luxury' of a flexible work schedule, but being self-employed does bring other negatives such as that insecure financial situation! We therefore all have similar stresses which don’t help us emotionally or physically. Stress doesn’t just cause us to get angry or shed a tear, it also manifests itself physically too, so you may find yourself aching for no reason, or sweating for example.
That’s where we really need to think about getting into a routine. I’m not saying it needs to be some military ridged thing, just a vague plan dedicating time to work, to school, to play, to eat and to look after yourself. From an mental standpoint, having a plan can help us feel calmer as we know what’s to come that day, rather than winging it which can feel chaotic. Here are my top tips:
It sounds like a luxury but you need to schedule in that me-time. I always talk about self-care but it’s never been so important, if not just for our own sanity. My husband works away during the week and I have 1 night which I have totally to myself (once the little one is in bed that is). I get to watch whatever crap TV I want, I can paint my nails (he hates the smell!), have a bath and I don’t need to prepare a full meal if I don’t fancy it. I’m missing that alone time I have to admit. He’s also missing the fact that he gets to spend his commuting time to London watching films. So we’ve kept it so that we have a night where we each spend it in different parts of the house and do what we want. Can you do something similar so you get that time to look after your own wellbeing?
Keep doing those Joe Wicks workouts (or similar)
We need to stay physically active so that we stay healthy through all this. The boost in serotonin (happy hormone) levels when exercising is also a benefit to your mental health – win win! But, if you get easily bored there are so many different workouts you can do – find something you enjoy, as it’ll make it easier to stick to. I personally find Joe’s workouts too difficult for me as my foot is still healing and the amount of jumping in his routines is too much impact for me. I’ve therefore been checking out yoga routines and the lovely Oti Mabuse is doing some easy to follow dance routines, so I’ve been enjoying them. Find what floats your boat!
Don’t spend your time worrying about home schooling
The struggle is real, I know. Just remind yourself that you’re not a teacher. You can only do what you can do. Yes education is important, but a few months of reduced effort isn’t going to put them back loads and at the end of the day, the schools are going to do their utmost to get them back on track once we’re back to normality. There are mountains of resources out there to take things from, but equally kids will learn other great skills from helping mum and dad with DIY, baking, gardening etc, so get them involved in things that aren’t exactly educational in the traditional sense.
Get your house in order
Having a crazy messy house isn’t going to help your sanity and it isn’t a healthy working environment. Spend a bit of time tidying and cleaning and making sure you have a good work space.
Take a few minutes each morning to set your intentions for the day
Set your goals – what do you want to achieve? What’s realistic in the given situation? I started with a very detailed plan for our home schooling/work and it quickly went out the window when I realised it was too much! And when I talk about goals I don’t just mean for the aforementioned tasks, but also think about one goal that relates to you and just you – something enjoyable, something that will give you pleasure. Doesn’t need to be big, just something like ‘I’d like to spend 15 mins with a cuppa and a good book in the garden at some point today’.
And, also reflect on what you did yesterday – what went well and what you can work on today. This reflection will definitely help with self-awareness and moving forward efficiently. Like I mentioned above, I set out a plan and it simply wasn’t feasible so I amended it.
Get meal planning and mindful eating
We’re all going to the shops less and when we go we’re doing bigger shops, so it’s worth planning your meals for the week. For me, knowing what my next meal’s going to be takes away a lot of stress, especially as a lot of you will be cooking for others. Plan in snacks too so you don’t reach for the sweets and biscuits.
And make it a more mindful affair by sitting at a table without distractions. Concentrate on your food, what you’re tasting rather than woofing it down because you’ve got to get back to work.
Socialise (from a distance)
The desire to communicate with others is ingrained in our psyche and this lock down is definitely tough. But, there are so many other ways we can stay in touch. We have to be thankful that this pandemic came in this technological age, so we have the amazing ability to still ‘see’ people when we talk to them.
I have people coming to my live Pilates classes, purely for that social interaction. Yes if you’re working you probably have video calls with colleagues, but actually having something non-work related to do really lifts the mood. I have lots of regulars and even though everyone is from different areas, it’s nice to get to know and see familiar faces each day. We have a little natter at the end of the class so it’s not all working out!!
I hope these short tips help you plan your day well, helping your mental and physical wellbeing to boot. But, at the end of the day, do what works for you and your set up. Don't force anything as you'll only end up being more stressed. And, don't forget this will end, yes it might be a few weeks/months off, but things aren't going to be like this forever so don't beat yourself up if you haven't got things perfected!
If you need help fitting in the exercise part and want a gym style workout that is personalised to your goals and fitness levels then I’d be happy to have a chat about personal training options. Or of course, you're welcome to join me for some daily Pilates too :-)