Now more than ever we need a little TLC so ESP’s Wellbeing columnist Karen Devine reflects on how she coped with lockdown and some approaches you might also take to look after your own mind, body and soul…
The year 2020 will be etched in our memories for a very long time; it’s been a time of twists, turns, chaos and ups and downs creating so much uncertainty. There is a divide in how it’s affected many of us, for some it’s brought about the ending of jobs, status and relationships whilst for others it’s brought them positive changes with new jobs, meeting their soul mates, strengthening relationships and creating new skills that lay dormant.
When the world first shut down in March, I embraced the silence. It actually felt natural to me (I love peace and quiet) as I reflected on the continuous stimulation on our nervous system in our everyday lives. Always going, having, getting, listening, watching, planning and doing – but so little ‘just being’ and it is this ‘being’ that we all need at times. So, I saw this as a gift to embrace changes. Don’t misinterpret this as I didn’t feel anxious, fearful or confused – I felt them all like most other people!
In the first part of the lockdown I took a piece of paper and made three columns titled – PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL and MENTAL and started writing in each column things that I needed to nurture and look after in all these layers. Here is my list which has helped me through…
- I put myself through a month detox programme (got to walk my own talk sometimes!), raw foods, juices, smoothies, colourful salads and healthy dressings. I’ve never in my nutrition career been given a time when all temptation was removed, no catching up with friends for meals, drinks, parties or gatherings. So, I used it to give my body a bit of a reboot.
- I finally found time to experiment with recipes (mainly plant based), which I could enjoy and pass on to my clients.
- Walked, walked and walked – I had to prepare for a 40 mile walk across the Yorkshire moors (which I completed in August with friends) and I kept up with exercise at home which really freed my time. I was so used to building my day around a gym timetable – this felt so freeing to me.
- I slept more. The quiet time brought my nervous system down and this can make you feel really tired – it actually reveals your true energy state which we cover up with doing, being and having which keeps us stimulated.
- This was a tough one, having lost close loved ones over the past couple of years, it was within the silence I felt the loss more acutely, so I reached out to a therapist to help me (over Zoom). I expressed my sadness – I just kind of let it all out. It’s in the silence that anxieties/fears can be exaggerated with our own thoughts so I kept a journal and wrote it all down.
- I made plans for my work and business, created new goals that had been put on the back burner. This helped me feel more in control.
- In the lockdown I had a Zoom call for a Saturday quiz each week, I felt connected to others; it helped take my mind off what was happening outside in the world which I had no control over.
- I created my own website for the very first time, normally I get others to create one for me but hours of ‘how to’ videos later and I am really happy with what I did, still a way to go to make it perfect but it’s a skill that I didn’t know I had. It really helped focus my brain.
- The house got a good clear out and I looked for easy ways to do upgrades in my home, I spent some time online looking at interiors and ways to create good energy in the home. I’ve loved it and it’s ignited a passion I didn’t know I had – this will be something I will continue with.
- I watched webinars relevant to my skills to help improve them, read numerous books, caught up with so many self development documentaries and programmes I’d bought but never had time to fully finish.
- I have remembered how much I love board games and cards, found out about Rummikub for the first time recently and now I’m hooked (love it). Played lots of Hungry Hippos and Snakes and Ladders with my grandson – all of this helped my mental wellbeing.
- I stopped watching the news way back in March – only peeking in to see what new rules/twists were happening. I am not one for daily news anyway as it’s so depressing and I found the way this has been reported has created so much anxiety and fear that I ensure I watch what I need to know and no more.
- My garden became my retreat, planting, pruning, cutting, painting, spraying, patio cleaning – anything that lifted my spirits, I really found my joy in the garden which kept me calmer.
For me, breaking it into columns this way really helped. We’re all different and we’re all in a variety of situations with differing challenges to deal with. We are still in very uncertain times and naturally so many are anxious and in fear.
We may not be able to control what is happening in the world right now, but we can control our responses to it.