There's lots of advice out there about how to cope with the coronavirus from a psychological perspective and I've wanted to add to it. But this has been one hell of a week! So, here is a contribution from me with the help of my 11 and 9 year olds. We've had a week of getting used to this new way of being together and we hope that these tips below may also be of some help to you too.
Accept the negative feelings and feelings of uncertainty
Your feelings are totally normal so don’t be afraid of them. Any worries, stresses or anxieties are perfectly natural in this current situation. I work on the premise that our feelings are a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. Feelings are not to be shied away from so instead consider allowing yourself to experience them. When we express feelings, we usually find that they will pass, but if we resist them, they can return much stronger.
Revitalise fun in your household. Think about the kinds of things that you enjoy as a family or if you are living alone, what are the things you really enjoy. Play a board game or a game of cards like top trumps, or (our plan for tonight!) arrange a family quiz. If board games aren’t quite your thing, try a game of ‘who am I?’ (a favourite in our household). Or if you're alone at this time, why not listen to your favourite music and have a dance? Various DJs are streaming their music live, so convert your sitting room into a dancefloor! Or try out some new music, find a new TV series or re-watch an old favourite.
If you’re in good physical health and own a trampoline, why not have a jump around with your children or why not set up an obstacle course (a friend (owner of the fabulous Play Planet in Hereford, https://www.facebook.com/playplanethereford) set up an amazing netball-focused obstacle course for her girls) or if outdoor space is at a premium, why not tune in to the many exercise videos we have online. You will all have heard of the Body Coach (aka Joe Wicks) but there are also plenty of others out there. Some of my favourites are:
Ballet BeFit with Jo - https://www.facebook.com/balletbefitwithJo/ BalletBeFit
Jak Lewis Personal Training - https://www.facebook.com/JakLewisPersonalTraining
The children and I have both managed to engage in online fitness/dance this week, which has helped to maintain a sense of normality. Even if exercise is not advised, for example, if you are suffering with Covid-19 symptoms or if you are unwell or incapacitated for whatever reason, aim to get some fresh air if you can. If not able to go outside at all, sit near a window and look out at the garden, the sky or notice the shapes in the clouds.
Learn a new skill
The everyday grind of commuting, school runs and work can often mean we’re not fuelling our creative selves. If you, like me, thrive on learning (I’d be a perpetual student if I could!), then why not take up an online course. I’ve always wanted to paint and play the guitar so I’m looking into the possibility of learning how… well, as soon as things have calmed down a bit! Or if you have a dog, why not try teaching him/her some new tricks!
Routine and Flexibility
Most people thrive on routine. This doesn’t mean we can’t also be spontaneous, but setting daily tasks to follow can mean that normality can resume in some way. On the flip side, don’t feel the need to stick so rigidly to routine. Whilst it can be very beneficial, things always come up, so remember that flexibility is key.
Get cracking with the tasks you’ve been avoiding
There’s nothing quite like putting a big thick line through an item on your ‘to-do’ list. If your list, like mine, feels unwieldy, now could be the time to prioritise some of those chores.
Take some much needed rest. Social media is filled with all the things people are doing – from home schooling to Houseparty calls to gardening to exercise. This is all great and very much needed (as mentioned in other items on this post)…but also take the opportunity for some rest. This first week has had very little of this for me but I intend to make time for rest this coming week.
Physical distance, not social distance!!
So we’re being told that social distancing is going to save lives and I dare say that physically keeping apart from one another certainly is! But the terminology of ‘social’ distancing leaves much to be desired. Now is the time to come together and to stay connected. We’re all better together and this last week has shown the importance of this for me. I’ve reconnected and received messages from so many people that I haven’t been in contact with for such a long time. We’re #allinthistogether and this sense of universality is what binds us at time of crises. So reach for the phone, try an online chat (Houseparty and Zoom are popular!) with a friend or a group of friends. And reach out to the vulnerable people around you.
Personal space and Meditate
When several people are cooped up in a small space together, it’s very easy to feel like we’re on top of one another. So be sure to take time out at regular intervals. This could be a quiet moment to read a book, a quiet moment on the loo (parents out there with small children, I know that this can sometimes be tricky to navigate so take any opportunity you can!), meditate in isolation or meditate as a family. The key with meditation is that many people say that they don’t have time for it….but the more you feel you don’t have time, the more you will benefit from it. You don’t necessarily need to engage in long meditations but rather a 10-minute meditation or even a 3-minute breathing space can help as an introduction (there’s a 3-minute breathing space you can follow on www.drvictoriagalbraith.co.uk/mindfulness).
Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good
No one is perfect, there's no such thing! So in this situation, don’t even try. Instead, be aware that all we have to be is good enough, a good enough parent or guardian, a good enough homeschool teacher (aka parent/guardian!), a good enough husband/wife/partner, a good enough son/daughter, a good enough friend, a good enough employee, a good enough employer, a good enough person!!
People are all doing things in their own way. Rather than judge people for not doing things the way you may do things, approach their decisions with compassion. And also remember, there is no right or wrong way. So if you are comparing yourself to others (guilty as charged on the home schooling front this week!), choose kindness towards yourself too. The first step to being kind to others is choosing kind towards yourself. The rest will follow.
Seize the opportunity
This crazy time could be seen as an opportunity… to enjoy the company of those close to us, to engage in quality time with others (within a household or virtually) and with ourselves, to connect and reconnect. An opportunity to volunteer to help support those who are struggling by coming together as a community in the same way that the incredible Pulling Together Ludlow initiative are doing (www.pullingtogetherludlow.org.uk) Perhaps an opportunity we’ll never have again in our lifetime, so make the most of it if you can!