As we enter Lockdown 2.0 I’ve put together some useful actions that may help make it easier than it was first time round.
1. Daily Framework
During times of uncertainty having a framework is essential for your mental, emotional and physical health and well being. A pandemic is one of those uncertain times!
At some level we like the feeling of having a degree of order and control in our lives. We prefer knowing where we stand rather than being left hanging. We enjoy believing we know what’s likely to happen in the future even if we know that logically we can’t. A daily framework does all this.
Most of us though tend to resist having a framework in our lives. It can feel oppressive and brings back memories of the rules and regulations of living at home or school days. In reality we all have a framework of sorts in our lives that evolves rather than being planned. The difference this time round is that the framework you can create is over to you. You are deciding it, even if that means fitting in with others, and there are benefits.
By creating a framework to hang your daily activities and habits on there’s less effort and planning needed. Your day flows. You know what is happening when and that means you also know when there’s space to kick back and enjoy nothing to do. Perhaps most importantly it prevents seepage between when you are at work, rest and play.
I know it sounds like a contradiction that having a daily framework frees up more time for you. The fact is it does. You achieve more with less effort. There’s less mental energy and time used up sorting out the mundane that we all have in our lives. You are never left wondering when to fit your walk or meals in. They happen.
I’m not talking about every last minute being planned to the last detail. A framework that does that is oppressive! It’s a looser structure. Add as much or as little as little you like, be prepared to refine it and tell others what it is.
This is one I used last time round during Lockdown 1.0.
Monday to Friday
- 07.00 Morning Routine Get up/Take medication/Yoga or run/Shower
- 08.00 Radical Coaching Group
- 08.30 Breakfast with partner
- 09.00 Work
- 12.30 Lunch
- 13.00 Work
- 15.00 Social Zoom Call
- 17.00 Finish Work
2. Bookend Your Day
This is linked with your daily framework.
How you start and finish your day has a huge impact on the day you actually experience. The way you begin your day from the moment you wake up determines how your day unfolds. Rushed and trying to catch up means you’ll feel like you’re behind all day. Having a regular time to get up and sticking to it can make all the difference to your self worth and energy levels and during a lockdown it’s more important than ever. With the act of getting up you’ll have ticked off a ‘win’ before your day has got going and that feels amazing.
Having a bed time routine has an effect on how you go to sleep and sets you up for the day to come. Rather than hitting your bed at full pelt slowing down and calming the mind and body before you go to bed gets you ready to rest and after a few days your mind and body gets used to the idea.
A simple idea like setting an alarm to tell you it’s time to begin your bedtime routine is really useful. Leaving your phone downstairs, turning off the TV, tidying up the kitchen, putting out your yoga mat ready for the morning, having a glass of water… all can give a sense of order before you even pull back the quilt and climb in.
There’s something strangely satisfying to starting and ending your day with bookends.
3. You First
I know You First may sound selfish though before you dismiss it consider this. How can you look after anyone else if you are not looking after yourself?
Time to use the well tried example of being on a plane and putting your own oxygen mask on first before helping others if the cabin depressurises. Trying to help one person before you suffocate when you could have helped them and many others by putting your own mask on first is non sensical.
There are more reasons as well…
- It’s unfair to those that love you to not consider yourself. After all people that love you want you to look after yourself.
- Caring for others and not caring for yourself is being a hypocrite and you’ll end up resenting those you help anyway.
- Nobody likes having a martyr in their lives. A martyr is a full on energy zap.
4. Be Kind
Many people find it easier to be kind to others than they do to be kind to themselves. Self kindness is an important part of your own health and well being.
Self kindness doesn’t mean endless days of chocolate consumption, internet spending or social media. It’s about feeding and nourishing yourself with actions that make you feel valued. Giving yourself time to read, call a friend and be present as you talk with them, pick up a paintbrush, write a letter, walk in a forest…
There will be some days when it feels too hard to stick to your framework – even the basic parts of it may feel overwhelming. When that happens take a day off. Be kind to you. Watch daytime TV and feel relaxed about it rather than the endless ‘I shoulds’ and feeling guilty. The occasional day of sofa lazing or sleeping in is fine. All the time isn’t being kind. That’s over indulgence or low level depression!
Using back the throttle on your life means you’ll also build up reserves to get back up to speed. Burn out can be closer than you think.
If you are uncertain what being kind to you looks like remember how you’d treat a 5 year old. Most of us are far kinder towards children than we are to ourselves!
5. Get Out
Being outside reminds your mind and body that there is more than your four walls and and you realise that there are living things rather than inert plastics and screens.
Your eyes work differently looking at things further away than your screen, your skin notices the changes in temperature from the central heating, your limbs stretch and elongate, your back lengthens, your balance gets to work, your heart changes rhythm, muscles generate heat and your mind becomes more active.
In our country Vitamin D deficiency is a problem. We need Vitamin D to keep our bones, teeth and muscles healthy and boost the immune system. Getting out on a cloudy day you’ll still absorb some vitamin though most of us would benefit in eating more vitamin D rich foods, such as oily fish, in our diet – and maybe taking a supplement during the winter months.
Your body loves being outside even if you hate it. Biophilia feeds us!
6. Moment of Joy
Joy is different for everyone. I love open water swimming which to others is madness. Watching a YouTube video about the latest BMW or finding the latest recipe for sourdough bread works for others. Maybe its pottering in the garden or playing your Mario Brothers game? It doesn’t matter.
We all have our own version of joy and when we experience it our lives feel more precious, wonderful and fulfilling.
In days gone by (i.e. before the pandemic), may of us delayed our joy. We’d cope with working long hours by promising ourselves a fantastic holiday or going to the pub on Friday after work.
With the new restrictions in our lives these moments of joy are no longer available and that means a shift in our thinking and taking opportunities for joy more immediately. Daily if possible. Weekly at a push.
Your body loves movement. I know that may sound like a lie. It’s a fact. When we move our bodies produce lots of feel good hormones and that boost and lifts our mood. It also stops the funk that sitting at a desk creates.
We all know the benefits of movement. Doing it is the challenge.
In Lockdown 1.0 many of us discovered that we could move given the time and lack of other things to do. Some have stuck at it. If you haven’t Lockdown 2.0 gives you another chance. If you didn’t start last time give walking a go. Your body, and mind, will thank you for it.
8. Limit Zoom
At first using Zoom, or other platforms, to connect to others, take an exercise class or join a cooking club was fun and a novelty. The first calls when you found out you could have your own background as you caught up with colleagues or calling friends in Australia quickly faded.
Although virtual calls are easy and quick to set up and have rapidly become the ‘norm’, there is a cost. They are tiring. They require mental and physical energy. Lots of it. You are on show all the time. You can’t drift off as you would in a physical meeting, take up doodling or let your concentration slip. Plus there is the energy spent looking at yourself. Usually we never see that. Your personal battery runs down quicker in a virtual call than your mobile when you are meeting someone and your train is running late!
To preserve your mental, emotional and physical energy only do a virtual call when there’s no alternative.
It might be useful to remember that whether you go virtual or not successful meetings are always based on questions rather than statements and are best kept as short as possible.
9. Sugar Down
Deciding to reduce your sugar is like using aftersun when you’ve been at the beach all day. It reduces inflammation. This means your body is less angry. Niggly pains fade and your pain threshold increases.
There are changes in your energy levels as well. Partly due to being more aware of choosing foods that are more helpful to your body and also because sugar suppresses energy after initially boosting it.
The benefits keep on coming as well…
- Your taste buds change and you begin to notice the sweetness of vegetables and fruit – that’s a joy!
- Fluid levels in your body become more balanced
- Cravings for sugar fade
- Weight reduces
- Energy levels are more stable
4 weeks is long enough to change your sugar habit!
10. Water Up
We all know that water is essential for life and that includes thinking!
When we are dehydrated our bodies begin to struggle and that includes our brain. Memory, concentration and mental energy are all impacted by the amount of water we drink. If you’ve ever been foggy headed and struggling to think clearly a sip of water can work wonders.
In these days of working at home when we don’t get interrupted by a colleague stopping to talk at our desk or getting up to make a coffee and talk in the staff kitchen drinking water can get forgotten.
It doesn’t mean you have to drink litres each day. You can use a simple Urine Colour Test – pale or light yellow is the target – and then drink accordingly.
With a framework filled with activities that create ‘win’ after ‘win’ Lockdown 2.0 could be a pause rather than a full stop.
Till next time…
Enjoy the day you create.
If you’d like to receive future blog posts, snippets and details of events you can sign up HERE