Many of us are finding ourselves 'locked down' at home, with no discernible end date in sight. What at first may have been viewed as a short-term opportunity to focus on other areas of our lives has, for many, gradually became a source of frustration and stress.
And the reality is that it can feel rather aimless and difficult to maintain enthusiasm when we've all the time in the world and nothing to occupy, entertain or distract us. We may have things we could/should/ought to be doing, work that needs attention, but as the days all merge into one it can be hard to even be sure what day it actually is, let alone get up, dressed and plan to do something useful.
Routine is what most of us are familiar with; working with the time pressures of getting children to school, travelling to work, shopping and fitting all our chores, appointments and social commitments into our busy days. Routine was what brought order and discipline into our lives with start times, meal breaks and clarity about what was expected of us all outlined. But these days there can be a 'what's the point' response when we've all this time to do very little and anyway, our structure and accountability has gone.
Some people have used lockdown successfully to thoroughly clean their cupboards, lose weight and learn Mandarin! But for others even getting up, showered and fully dressed has become a struggle. TV and the home delivery driver are now their best friends!
Let's look at ways to shake it up and introduce some reasonable, achievable plans for this next stage of lockdown;
- Accountability can help. Get a friend on board, someone who's on the same wavelength as you, with whom you can regularly check in, who encourages and motivates you. When you share your ups and downs you're able to support each other and keep each other on track. Discuss what you personally need, what realistically would work for you, even if the starting point is simply getting up and dressed at a certain time or going for a regular walk. Each are successes in themselves. And it's good to have someone with whom you share your daily news.
- Plan what you'd like as an end result from lockdown. You may choose to think big, maybe wanting to set up on your own in business, find a new job, lose some weight, run a marathon. Break down bigger goals into bite-sized chunks and itemise each of the key steps that jig-saw puzzle together to form the picture of your desired end success.
For example, a new career could require familiarity with the job specification, clarification of any skills and experience required, a training course, a revised CV, a chat with the company HR. Or committing to a marathon may involve gradually increasing fitness levels from walking to running, learning about stretching, appropriate kit and nutrition. Identify the stages so that you're clear about what's involved, but don't overwhelm yourself.
- Lists work for some people. They enjoy ticking off items at the end of each day. It gives them a sense of achievement and satisfaction. Plan your list the night before so that it brings structure, but be wary of being too harsh on yourself if things don't go to plan. Accept that unexpected things can crop up or tasks may take longer than anticipated.
- Ensure that your plans feel right for you. This is no time to be competing with others, everyone has their own challenges and preoccupations. Instead focus on what would be a real result for you. That way you're more likely to stay on board. Sometimes competing with yourself might become part of the plan and help keep you focussed; improving on your personal best or hitting targets by a certain date might work for you.
- Giving yourself praise and acknowledgment at each stage of your efforts is a positive component in planning your lockdown days. Instead of simply moving from one result to the next give yourself credit, even if you've 'only' made a phone call or sent an email. Each of these stepping-stones moves you in the right direction.
And if you do find that your original plan isn't working out well and needs to change, that's okay. Regroup and update your vision, knowing that all your efforts and experience to date have added value to your life. Be gentle with yourself and appreciate the challenges overcome and lessons learned along the way. Planning your lockdown days gives you energy and motivation, the opportunity to make your life more meaningful, so rewarding you with a sense of purpose and satisfaction.
Susan Leigh, Altrincham, Cheshire, South Manchester counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support.
She's author of 3 books, 'Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact', '101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday' and 'Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain', all on Amazon & with easy to read sections, tips and ideas to help you feel more positive about your life.
To order a copy or for more information, help and free articles visit http://www.lifestyletherapy.net