COVID-19: A Guide to Accepting and Adjusting to a New Normal.
This post has been a work in progress since the very first mention of the C word.
There is no doubt about it – this situation is extremely challenging and unnerving to say the least. It weighs heavy on our minds and our bodies. I want you to feel comfort when I say that I feel you and I share your anxiety but, I also want to say that we are in this together. Physically, we couldn’t be more far apart but virtually, we can stay strong together.
It feels tough and unnatural to be so physically isolated from our communities. Our family, friends, colleagues, team members and workout groups, but let’s make sure we continue to offer support, empathy and most importantly encouragement online. Of course it’s not the same, but it’s the best we can do given this situation.
For the time being, we need to stay at home, support the NHS to ultimately safe lives.
Amongst all of the above, we also need to take care of ourselves. So despite the stress, anxiety and turmoil you might be experiencing I wanted to write a longer than normal post addressing some of the techniques and tips I’ve learnt from reading a number of self-love and self-help books.
This might not resonate with everyone and that’s okay. We are each dealing with the situation as best we can. But if this helps one person, my job here is done.
Self Leadership and Trusting Yourself.
This situation might be demanding new levels of self leadership and trust in your abilities. That can feel like a huge responsibility so I wanted to break it down into a couple of bite sized stages that are easier to stomach and put into practice. You can try them individually, collectively or, set yourself a little challenge to try tackle a new one everyday.
- Start with PMA (Positive Mental Attitude).
Remind yourself that you have been able to overcome and get through every tough day that life has thrown at you so far. You will also get through this. Repeat this as many times as you need.
- Embrace Change.
Acceptance of change and the uncertain future is the first step. Resistance to the inevitable sets you up to wasted energy, unhappiness, resentment and a serious lack of motivation. Your own acceptance of these turbulent times will have its own rhythm so be gentle with yourself as you adjust. Take your time finding that new normal but know it will come eventually.
- Engage Curiosity.
Change is a vital part of embracing the new. Become curious to the bigger picture. Take some time to ask yourself some big questions.What can I learn from this?What can I do?What can I let go of?
Invest in Your Skills.Uncertainty and change within work might mean a shift in companies or positions. Update your CV, LinkedIn and website. Proactively highlight your amazing skillset and experience. If there are courses that you can take part in, now is the time to do them. There are so many free online resources that can be utilised.
- Be Mindful of News Consumption.
There is a lot of research that shows strong links between news consumption and increased levels of stress and anxiety. There are more ways to stay informed that just watching BBC News Live all day. In my household, we’ve limited ourselves to 10-15 minutes in the morning with our coffee, and tuning into the 5pm Live updates. Anymore and we can feel ourselves spiralling. The Happy Broadcast is posting lots about COVID-19 but they’re positive and proactive news stories.
- Take it One Step at a Time.
You don’t need to know how everything will play out right away. Me, you, WE have time to curate that.
Trust Your Gut. Gut instinct is an honoured method of survival and decision making. Intuitive knowing can be overruled by assumptions and emotions. If you’re able to filter those irrational thoughts and listen to your own inner guidance, your gut can help decide the next move.
The second part of this post will focus on ways in which we can promote and work on the self compassion we have for ourselves. Self-love can sometimes feel selfish but I promise you, it isn’t. This list doesn’t include the materialistic self-love things (although those can be very important too) instead, it focuses on things we can implement to promote a little bit of extra TLC internally.
- Invest in Your Anchors.
Even when there is a lot of change, there will STILL be things that haven’t shifted. These might be things such as family, friendships and hobbies. Focus your energy on the things that are remaining the same to give yourself a sense of continuity and calm.
A buzzword but a powerful one. Mindfulness is a tool of embodiment and stress resilience. The human brain is programmed to experience change as threat which can lead to the fight or flight method. Naturally, we want to run away from what we can’t control right? Following simple mindful practices can teach you how to navigate the complexities of over-thinking and irrational behaviours.
- Invest in Relaxation Practices.
If mindfulness is a little too airy fairy for you, find other restorative activities in your day. A bath before bed, a good podcast – those sorts of things.
- Slow Down.
When everything is in a state of flux, it is important to slow down decision making so that you can be sure you are responding as your best self.
- Help & Support Others.
One of the best ways to increase our own mood and sense of purpose is to reach out and support others. Check in daily with your family and friends. Schedule in those FaceTime dates. They’re so important for them and for you.
- Be-friend Your Inner Critic.
Now is probably as good a time as any to befriend that inner voice. We all have an inner critic commentating on our efforts in life. One of the key skills of self-love and forgiveness is to learn to accept that voice, challenge it and silence that internal dialogue.
- Feel the Feels.
Know that whatever you are feeling right now, is valid. Anger, sadness, confusion – every single emotion is okay. Find some time and space to really investigate those emotions. Write them down in the notes section of your phone, or in a journal. Talk to your mum, dad or cat if it helps. However if it does feel like its getting too much, reach out for external support and help. Everyone deserves to receive the help they need.
- Talk About It.
You’ll have heard me say this 100000 times before and I’ll say it 1000 times more : a problem shared is a problem halved. We are all experiencing this extremely unnatural and unnerving time. So let’s talk about it. Tell your housemate how you’re feeling. The likelihood is they’re feeling the same. The more we share, the better. If you’re struggling to talk about it, know that my DM’s and emails are always open.
Affirmations are a weird one but, if they work for you, do them more than ever. Look in the mirror and tell yourself YOU HAVE GOT THIS. Because you do. The more you repeat it, the more you’ll believe it.
Lets #staystrong together because when this is all over (and it will end) think how strong we will be.
Stay inside, stay happy, healthy and safe.