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This morning, my coffee machine broke. Disaster! But then I realised that, in the grand scheme of things, it’s just a coffee machine. There are other ways to make coffee.

Being confined in our homes means that life has shrunk down to what’s happening immediately around us. All those trivial things, like broken coffee machines, irritate or upset us more. Whereas the bigger picture is still going on outside. We need to gain perspective.
I said, “Get over it, Roland!”, got out my cafetière and ground coffee, and reminded myself that I’m lucky to have my warm, comfortable home.

Heightened Emotions and Lack of Privacy

Being stuck at home with our loved ones and our heightened emotions make us irrational; we may say things that we wouldn’t normally say, or things are misinterpreted. Sometimes, arguments may ensue. To dampen the fire of emotional outbursts, take a deep breath, sit down and calmly talk things through. Share your fears and be open minded to those of your loved ones. Validation of people’s feelings helps to calm a situation.

Imagine what could happen to those stuck in an abusive relationship? Going out to work was an escape. Now where will the victims find refuge? There are many domestic abuse charities and helplines like this one, but being stuck at home where telephone conversations may be overheard makes calling difficult.

Self-Awareness and Routines

Becoming more self-aware helps to maintain a degree of mental wellbeing. Recognising that I was getting worked up about the coffee machine breaking down this morning helped me to rationalise the situation. Try to remove anything that has a negative impact on you … other than family, of course!

Recognising your fear, too, will help. These uncertain times change almost daily, as does our fear, making us act irrationally and illogically. It’s fear that caused panic buying, resulting in tons of food waste.

Routines help to quell the fear. I’ve noticed people posting on social media about getting up later than they normally would. That’s understandable but not necessarily conducive to good mental health. Admittedly, I’m getting up a bit later. But then I’m up, showered and dressed to become a professional person, fully prepared to engage in the day and join a web meeting.

Sleep and Exercise

Your mental good health is improved through regular sleep, eating well and exercise. If you’re not sleeping well it could be because of anxiety about the situation, so limit your time on social media and watching the news.

Living alone may be particularly hard now. Keep lines of communication open with friends and family, whether simply by phone and email, or better still with digital technology. FaceTime, Skype or Zoom calls help to keep you feel connected because you can see one another. Also, on Facebook there are some recently set up groups to chat in.

A daily walk in your local area, or some online exercise, is beneficial to your mood. I pay good money for a personal trainer to try to kill me! Now, he’s set up a Zoom connection so that he can still bully me in the confines of my own home. It’s for my own good, apparently!

Not having been out for a week and needing a walk, we braced ourselves and ventured out. The previous weekend we’d walked along the riverbank, but it was so full of people that I got nervous. This time, choosing a route through the houses, we saw very few people. Either they or we moved away, and we all smiled and greeted one another. It’s nice to see civility! We’d almost lost that.

Remote Working and Keeping Resilient

Working from home can be particularly difficult for some. I know someone who logs on at 6am and off at 8pm without even taking a lunch break; this isn’t sustainable and can cause burnout. That may be partly because it’s a new situation or because they’re worried about their job or the business, so presenteeism comes into it. We’re probably in this for the long haul, so it’s important to pace ourselves.

Resilience is needed to help us through these times. This can be learnt, which takes practice, and includes keeping perspective, being self-aware and having routines, all mentioned above.

Other things to keep in mind include:

  • Don’t become a victim to this – recognise what you can and cannot control and try not to feel totally out of control.
  • Step back from working too much, the news, social media and even family when you need to.
  • Don’t drink too much alcohol! Try to keep a clear head for improved focus and wellbeing.
  • Switch off the television and do something different. Yesterday, I read a book for the first time in ages; it made me feel good.
  • Discover your latent creative skills, like knitting, painting or playing an instrument, to keep your mind and hands occupied.
  • Set up a regular sleep routine and ensure you eat well, as already mentioned.
  • Set up a regular work routine and allow time for exercise and rest.
  • Check out online mindfulness groups and online exercises.
  • Embrace both your digital world and your small world at home. It’s the new normal!
  • Music is a good escape and excellent for relaxing the mind – discover new music online.
  • Open your windows and listen to the sounds of nature – birdsong seems louder now as there’s far less traffic noise.

The Act of Being Grateful

Try to think of at least three things every day. There is scientific evidence that proves that actively thinking of things to be grateful for helps to improve your sense of wellbeing and mental health. Yesterday, mine were that people are becoming more civil, kind and helpful; that we have a nice home; we’re in good health; and we still have an income. We’re lucky.

My hope is that this time helps us to gain a brighter, shinier new world. It must also be recognised that humans have short memories and we may eventually revert to type – survival of the fittest and greed being dominant factors. Let’s look forward to the end of these difficult times but with a sense of reality, too.

Online Coaching – Helping you Cope with Social Distancing

I’ve already had people sign up for online coaching with me. During these isolated times, as well as keeping connected with family and friends, it helps to have a dialogue with a coach who understands the mental challenges of working from home and feeling isolated.

Coaching will help you to find the strength and resilience within yourself to both cope during these times and develop your potential further. For more information on how I can help, have a look here. Then get in touch for a chat about it.

In Other News …

‘I’m Lucky’ – Wandsworth Oasis
Recently, I was asked by the Chief Executive of Wandsworth Oasis, a charity that provides support to those living with HIV, to write something positive for their website. Do have a read of it here.

The Fear of the Unknown: The Impact of Stigma
I’ve been invited to do a webinar on the above subject by Inclusive Companies Webinars. It’s on 28 April, so do get in touch with them to participate by emailing info@inclusivecompanies.co.uk

Man Cove Wellbeing
Recently, I heard that Man Cove Wellbeing, a new men’s mental health movement, made a video about my story. I was so flattered that I became a patron!

My Latest Talent Revealed
As a form of distraction during lockdown, it helps to find a new hobby. It seems that I can weave small leather rugs! Here it is.

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