It feels very surreal to be writing this; a post about how I’m dealing with pandemic stress as the world has completely stopped. It is something that none of us could have ever predicted, not even two months ago, but as more and more people from countries around the world face lockdown due to the coronavirus, we have seen life as we know it completely change.
It’s scary. It’s frightening and everything is so uncertain. I’ll admit I’ve found it extremely stressful, but on the whole I feel incredibly lucky and am so grateful. I have a job which means I can work remotely at home, something that I am definitely not taking for granted as many friends find themselves in different situations at the moment. Myself and my family are in relatively good health, though I am worried about my grandparents and family members and friends who work for the NHS (absolute superheroes!). I am also really pleased to have a tiny outdoor space in the form of a balcony and lots of lovely nature walks on my doorstep, which definitely helps.
We have been on lockdown for about 3 weeks now, but it’s been almost a month since I’ve been working from home and in that time everything has changed. No more days/nights out; no more gym (I miss the gym so much!); no more eating out, going to the cinema, or out for a drink; no more holidays as we were supposed to be living it up in Amsterdam right now; and the hardest is that we are now only able to leave the house once a day for our daily dose of exercise. I’m so incredibly grateful that, at the moment, we are still able to do this and even more grateful that we have a balcony which is providing a little outside space so we can get some fresh air and sunlight. Man, I miss my parents’ lovely garden!
I won’t lie, for the first few days I felt terrified. I was on edge, extremely anxious, constantly refreshing news feeds, worrying about my family and friends and what this all meant. It got to a point where I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat and just could not switch off. I actually felt guilty having these feelings because I know how lucky I am to be able to work and stay at home and to be in good health.
But over the last few weeks I have discovered a few coping mechanisms, most of which I have always relied on when I’ve felt anxious anyway. They’ve made a huge difference to my mood and general well being and I thought I’d share them below to help others who may also have been feeling completely overwhelmed by the current situation:
Getting out in nature
I feel like its only now that people are starting to appreciate the beauty we have on our doorstep and the benefits of nature, and I’m hopeful that will continue when the lockdown comes to an end. I am so, sooo grateful that we are still allowed out for daily walks. We save ours for the evening and it makes such a difference to my mood. I think I’d find it really hard to be stuck in all the time, so I’m pleased to see (most) people are following the social distancing measures and using the time purely to get some fresh air and movement. I’m also really enjoying being out on our little balcony each morning. It’s small but has lots of flowers and a view of Cardiff and it means that we get to sit in a place other than our living room. Green space and having fresh air is so important and have you noticed how peaceful it is without the constant hum of traffic? It’s really beautiful.
For me, exercise is hugely important. I workout nearly every day; I love running, going to the gym, lifting weights, spin classes, and even walking. The gym being closed is one of the things I thought I’d find most difficult, but actually I am loving home workouts and I think I’ll definitely keep doing some when things go back to normal. Exercise is the perfect way to relieve stress and I also think it’s so important to keep moving now, as otherwise sitting in one spot all day leaves you feeling so lethargic. I’ve been following Joe Wicks’, aka. The Body Coach, YouTube workouts and have also loved looking at what fellow gym-goers are doing at home and incorporating them into my own workouts. You can certainly build up a sweat from the comfort of your living room!
Taking regular screen breaks
When I work in the office I am really strict with my time. I have a solid lunch break and I finish on time each day in order to get my train home. I’ve found working from home I am definitely not taking these breaks properly and often find myself with a banging headache at the end of the day as I’ve been staring at a screen for the best part of 8 hours. I’m now making a conscious effort to have a “lunch break”, whether that’s doing a workout or doing some jobs around the flat to take me away from my screen.
Keeping up a routine
I am a sucker for a routine and though it is already starting to feel a little monotonous, having a clear plan and to-do list for each day really helps. We’ve been getting up early and getting ready for “work” (though a baggy jumper, leggings and a fresh face has replaced my usual work wardrobe), we’re eating breakfast out on the balcony, doing a lunchtime stretch or home workout following YouTube tutorials, and then we are saving our “daily dose of exercise” for the evening and going out for a long walk or run as the sun sinks behind the city. We are also lucky to have a routine in the form of weekdays working and having the weekend – that has definitely made a difference for us.
Escaping into a book
I love to read anyway, but there is no nicer way to escape the four walls we’re currently trapped in than burying your nose into a good book. I know Netflix, BBC iPlayer and Disney+ are seriously coming into their own here too (if you haven’t watched Tiger King yet then are you even doing lockdown properly?!), but I can’t help but get distracted when I watch TV. I end up tapping away on my laptop or scrolling on my phone, but I find a book is a real good form of escapism. Usually I am on a train morning and night commuting from work so have plenty of time to read, so it feels good to get back into that.
Avoiding social media and “fake” news
The biggest, and probably most impactful, change is that I have logged out of Facebook and am only watching the news once a day to get an accurate update of what is going on. I was so sick of all the keyboard warriors on Facebook, everyone giving their own input into how people should be dealing with the situation and arguing over who was right and wrong. Everyone is dealing with this in a completely different way, and I was sick of all the preaching on there. Not to mention all the fake news and general bullsh*t that creeps into your news feed too. So I logged out. I use Instagram still, because I love it and I have found people have generally been lovely and positive, encouraging others to try new things and sharing creative ideas about how to pass the time when you’re stuck indoors there.
We’re all dealing with this in different ways and I’ve found that these are the things that help me feel calmer. It’s tough and there will be tougher times ahead I’m sure, but for now let’s all stay home, stay safe and embrace the little things and the slowed pace of life at the moment.
Lots of love. xoxo