Tomorrow, England goes into lockdown 2.0. An extreme measure which could have been avoided if the government had acted more quickly. I worry about the effects this lockdown will have on independent businesses, the self employed and those who are already living in isolated conditions.
As someone who is more of an introvert, the first lockdown wasn’t too bad. But as we move into winter – it seems to never stop raining and news never ceases to be bleak – there’s not much left keeping me optimistic.
After my recent breakdown, I have been looking at ways to be more gentle with myself and really identify what helps to ease my anxiety. With a global pandemic along for the ride, it has a been a great un-learn and re-learn situation. In the last few days I have been thinking about what I can use to help me through the next round of lockdown.
I’ve gone mad for crafting and it’s hardly a new thing. Back in February, when I had my first breakdown of 2020 (little did I realise what the rest of the year had in store!), I spent two weeks crafting in an old scrap book I found from my Uni days.
This time around, I dug out a felt craft kit that was gifted to me during lockdown. A week later, innocently in John Lewis for fabric scissors, in the corner of my eye I spot more craft kits. With the excuse that I am making cute Christmas decorations – we currently have a lone bauble so this is a legitimate reason – I leave John Lewis with fabric scissors and a small haul of Corinne Lapierre craft kits.
With a mindless show on in the background, using my hands keeps my busy mind distracted from spiralling into an anxious mess. Crafting refocuses my brain and helps to get it out of it’s jumble. I’ve got three gingerbread and a group of baby penguins figurines to keep me busy for the next month.
Well this one was a surprise. Seriously did not see 2020 being the year that I would become obsessed with candles. However, on a rainy day, I lit the only candle I had from years ago and my life changed forever. There’s something extra soothing about having one flickering away whilst I’m stuck inside.
One thing I had not factored in was how expensive my new found obsession would be. But, as luck would have it, my partner used to work for the worlds biggest candle company and he knows people…
Listening to my body
A couple of weeks ago I had a day where my stomach twisted itself into tight knots for no apparent reason. I could not work out why I felt so anxious. But instead of beating myself up, I let the anxiety happen. Knowing that the feelings weren’t going to be there forever The rest of the day (once I’d finished work) was spent lying on the sofa, only getting up to top up my hot water.
I also accepted that I probably wasn’t going to get much work done that day, and that that was OK. We can’t be on our A game every day and being kind to myself actually meant that I got more work done than I was anticipating. Once I had finished work the day I allowed myself to cancel any plans or anything on my to do list for the rest of the day. I knew that the best thing to do was ride the waves of anxiety and just let it happen.
Then last week was a weird one. Weird for COVID times, where I was doing something every night (for obvious reasons this isn’t about to occur again any time soon). Actually, in those wonderful pre coronavirus times it was rare that I would be busy every evening. Even back then, I knew that to avoid burnt out I needed to have evenings where I did nothing. So last week I made sure that I wasn’t trying to fill precious free moments and chose to rest instead.
Both of these occasions have helped me realise that things can wait. It’s not that i’ve become lazy; more that I am able to give myself some slack for occasionally spending a day watching Netflix rather than trying to power through my to-do list, only to then burn out and spend a few days watching Netflix! It’s obviously not going to change over night but I have noticed in the last couple of weeks that I am putting less pressure on myself. When my body says it needs to rest, I rest.
I am learning to be kinder to myself and that is what I am taking with me into the next lockdown.