It takes a Conscious Choice to Nurture Self during the Lockdown
It’s a huge thing to stay at home during this pandemic COVID period. Governments around the word have locked down communities in an effort to pause the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“Stay Home. Stay Safe. Save Lives.” has been the key message from the government, but it is so different from what we know to be normal.
The first and third instructed tasks can be ticked. But after a month of social isolation, the reference to staying safe at home may just be wearing a little thin for some.
Some would call this pandemic a global crisis. There’s nothing I can do about that in my personal world. That said, I am choosing to reframe this period of time as an opportunity to detach from the external world and focus on myself. That’s a little easier for me in some ways since I’ve been socially distancing since December due to treatment for cancer.
I truly believe this unique period is a rare gift of time that we have been granted. One can only hope that we will never see this in our lifetime ever again, and it hasn’t been seen since the great depression.
Some in our community are taking social distancing in their stride and simply modifying their daily routines to be able to juggle working from home, homeschooling their kids, as well as leaving the family home for limited and socially distance based exercise.
Others are feeling incredibly confined and restricted and it’s obvious from their social media posts, that life is very uncomfortable right now. For these people, it is perhaps a little scary for what life will be like after COVID.
You can tell who feels confined because they are complaining about it. And not every now and then. They are ranting as loudly as possible. Endlessly in fact, to whoever will listen. Their behaviour is their expression of feeling lockdown is unreasonable and irrational. They have become inflexible and feel hard done by.
For some who are isolated at home, they are confronted with all the things their busy life allowed them to avoid, and now the walls are feeling restrictive. These are the people who share pictures and stories of wine being consumed whilst schooling their children.
There are others bragging about three days in their pyjamas! What this picture is really saying is they are not coping and can’t find strategies to even choose to shower every day.
Let’s take the basic act of getting out of bed and showering. You wouldn’t have thought twice about not doing this when leaving the house — would you? Now during social isolation, there is an apparent acceptable lack of self-care for some.
Mindfully choosing to care enough for yourself to bathe and getting dressed should smell true to you (and to those you live with). Failing to undertake these small self-respecting tasks is a lack of intention towards self if you aren’t prioritising enough time in your day for a four-minute shower and fresh clothes.
Ask yourself what message are you sending yourself? It’s one thing to make a conscious decision to not bathe, perhaps because you haven’t exercised this day. It’s even ok to bum around for a day in your pj’s.
But if you simply can’t be bothered, is it time to ask yourself is everything ok?
Another example and yet subtle version of lack of self-care is binge-watching Netflix and at the same time scrolling through your phone. The perpetual scrolling means you’re not present in anything and simply avoiding the life occurring around you.
It’s perhaps time to ask yourself what do you really need right now?
And when you ask yourself this question, you had better be prepared to fulfil the answer rather than letting the mind be lazy!
When we feel antsy (which is really just a form of anxiety) ask yourself what would make me feel comfortable and safe right now?
Know this. Each of us is fully equipped to deal with what is present in our life. It is a matter of what you choose to do and how you choose to perceive your situation in life which dictates how well you cope.
So what are you choosing in terms of your experiences?
Might life be different if I gave you permission to reframe everything negative inside your head? Consider that done!
Here are some tips for easily implementable actions to get you through this lockdown phase.
1. Get dressed. Every day.
Physically changing out of your sleep clothes creates a subconscious neurological response that it’s time to get going. Take action. Remaining in your pyjamas all day is permissible on rainy weekend days or those dates whereby you’ve gifted yourself a mental health break. It’s still a choice to dress.
2 Have a shower.
Regular showering removes bacteria from the skin, which supports the body from infection. There’s also an argument for reduction of body odour, especially for those you are sharing confinement with!
3 Be mindful with your eating.
During the lockdown, it’s really easy to overindulge in everything — because it’s at our fingertips. By all means, have a piece of chocolate. But if you find yourself sneaking back to the fridge a second or third time ask yourself what you perceive you actually need right now?
Is it just because you’re skin hungry and in need of a treat? Or are you stuffing the sugar inside to avoid addressing an actual hidden emotional issue?
4 Exercise. Every day.
This suggestion isn’t rocket science. A simple 20 minute walk outside gifts your body so much. You get exposure to direct sunlight, which enables your body to make vitamin D.
Your body makes dopamine (the feel-good hormone) when you exercise. Regular exercise several times a week is great for your heart health.
Not to brag but this week I have walked a marathon and feel amazing. The exercise high has been so rewarding that I’ve decided to enter an event later in the year.
5 Step out of the house. Get a Nature Fix.
Every time you go outside, you gift yourself an automatic change in scenery to stimulate your senses. Take a different route each time to keep things interesting. Japanese medical practitioners even prescribe forest therapy for those who are stressed out and anxious!
Consider timing yourself on a specific route so that you can see your physical endurance building each time you go out. It’s great for encouraging a positive mindset. So hug a tree!
6 Reframe any negative self-talk.
Be mindful of your internal dialogue. Rather than punish yourself for thinking something negative, I grant you permission to ‘reframe’. The minute you choose to reframe a negative into a positive, you literally switch neurology pathways out of stress patterns and into solution-seeking neural responses.
You have nothing choosing to reframe and invite more positive into your life.
7 Recipe for relaxation.
Figure out what supports relaxation for you. Is it taking a bath? Perhaps some yoga or meditation? Is it self massage? Reading a book. making cubby houses with the kids. Playing board games. Online chats with friends. It could be as simple as not watching the news as often.
The list is endless but are you open to opportunities?
Let me be crystal clear, when I talk about relaxation, I’m talking about physical relaxation, emotional detachment and achieving mental clarity (ie no monkey chatter going on inside your head).
During the lockdown, you need to ensure that you are detaching from the confinement and allowing yourself to take advantage of the naturally slower pace of social distancing.
Take one small action each and every day to nurture yourself on all levels.
8 Break out with pets.
I have two young lab puppies from the same litter, so they do everything together — including being naughty! But I have to say that I can never be mad around these gorgeous creatures. They gift me an enormous amount unconditional love just by placing their heads in my lap.
And whilst I’ve been undergoing treatment for breast cancer, they have been a divine nurturing gift for my daughter. She’s teaching them to sit and stay and they are teaching her to laugh when they lick her. They are gifting her lessons in responsibility and respectful authority.
Pets gift us an instant dopamine fix. Working from home provides us with the perfect opportunity to have our fury therapy bags with us all the time!
9 Use technology to maintain the connection with friends.
Utilise the video technology available to you and video chat with friends and family. I am absolutely loving chatting with friends and seeing their faces at the same time. Book a ‘mate date’ with your friends and family in order to maintain your connections.
Regardless of your COVID experience, we are all feeling pinch points with respect to the perception of not being able to certain things in our life. I’m gifting you permission to step out of the expected normal and create the life you want.