This COVID-19 crisis has radically changed our lives. Just a few months ago, we had no idea our ‘world’ would be confined to our homes!
This crisis is a powerful reminder of how important freedom is – and how much we need human connection!
Remember you are not alone. Because what is DIFFERENT here is that everyone is impacted! Your neighbour, mum, boss and friends as well as your counterparts around the world are all going through something similar.
So, it’s important to remember:
History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.
And, despite newspaper claims, we’re all still very much in these different times. It’s okay to still be very “up and down right now” as many people have said to me!
So, how can you make the most of the “up times” you have at home?
Here Are 8 Things You Can do to Make Your Life Better During Lockdown:
1) Learn with Non-Fiction Books:
Use this time at home to educate yourself with non-fiction books. There is so much to be gained – like self-confidence, negotiation skills, health (sleep, nutrition), how to have difficult conversations and much more.
What keeps you up at night? There’s probably a book about that! What do you wish you were better at? There’s probably a book about that too!
Here are some book ideas to get you thinking:
- Be more productive or creative with “The Creative Habit” by Twyla Tharp or “A Whack on the Side of the Head (How You Can Be More Creative)” by Roger Von Oech and “A Whole New Mind” by Daniel Pink.
- Think (or rethink?) how you live with books like “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan (also available in a young reader’s version), “Slow Food: Collected Thoughts on Taste, Tradition, and the Honest Pleasures” by Carlo Petrini, “Doughnut Economics” by Kate Raworth.
- Get personally inspired with “Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts” and “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown.
- Up-skill yourself with “Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most” by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen.
- Learn about the human mind with “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell or “The Whole Brain Child” by Daniel J. Siegel MD and Tina Payne Bryson, PhD.
- Get healthier with “Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams” by Matthew Walker PhD.
- Be more confident and discover your strengths with “The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance – What Women Should Know” by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman” or “Now, Discover Your Strengths (How to Develop Your Talents and Those of the People You Manage)” by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton.
- Finally, read autobiographies! Choose someone you admire, get inspired and learn how other people think – and live their lives.
Reading one book will expand your mind, reading several of these books is going to make you more interesting, help you learn new skills – and maybe even make you more employable too!
2) Explore your Life Vision:
Rather than watching endless news streams, you can choose to focus on a bigger picture – your future. What do you want from the rest of your life? What would you be disappointed you did NOT do? Where do you envision yourself in 10 years?
Having a clear vision of how you want your life to be is a powerful motivator. A vision helps us work towards our goals, take action and make change. Soon, we’ll all be super-busy again – and a vision might be just what you need stay focused!
Here are 5 questions to ponder or journal around to go deeper:
- What do you desire or yearn for in your life?
- How do you want to feel?
- What do you really, really want to be different in your life?
- What would have happened in 3 years time such that your life is spectacular and you feel magnificent about yourself?
- What’s your dream for this lifetime? Imagine you’re 90 years old and looking back over your life; what did you do that made you proud and happy?
TIP: Remember to think possibility not probability! Don’t limit yourself and your ideas because you don’t believe something is likely. Instead believe it’s possible – and even if you don’t get all the way there, you may get close – or even find something better along the way!
If this time has made you realise you’re not doing what you love, get in touch with me to chat about how coaching can help you create and move forward with your life vision. Just pick a time and day here to set this up.
Lastly, if you like guided meditation, you can meet yourself 20 years from now over at Fierce Kindness in this “Still Lake” Guided Meditation, ask any questions you have and receive a ‘gift’! (20 mins).
3) Be in the moment:
In THIS moment, you are OK. You are safe. Take one day at a time. One hour or even one breath at a time if you need to.
This tip is about being super-present, not thinking ahead or remembering the past, but practicing BEING.
This is a PRACTICE – meaning you will have to do it over and over again – bringing yourself back to the NOW. Over time it gets easier, and it’s a great skill to have to take back to “normal” life.
So when you notice you’re worrying, feeling twitchy and want to pick up your device and find out what the “latest” is about the COVID situation, say to yourself, “It’s OK. In this moment, I am safe. In this moment I am OK.” You can also add or say, “In this moment, my children/husband/family are safe.”
EXTRA TIP: Reduce or minimise how often you watch and read the news! And DON’T read or watch the news (or articles about COVID-19 or similar) just before bed!
I’ve found UCLA’s free guided meditations a real help with being present. I just add one of them to my morning yoga practice. If you need some help forming positive, healthy habits, (like a daily yoga and meditation practice), this post of mine might help you.
Distracting ourselves from our fears is a valid technique for feeling better!
Laughter releases helpful chemicals in our bloodstream – Endorphins (our natural “happy” drug) and Dopamine (part of our bodily “reward” system).
- What are your favourite comedy shows?
- Is there a comedian you like?
- Netflix and similar have so many watching options, so find something that makes you laugh!
IMPORTANT: We should NOT use over-use laughter as a distraction technique. And it shouldn’t be used for ongoing and persistent fears in regular life. But for a situation like this, where this isn’t much that any of us can do other than sit and wait – distraction can be a great coping mechanism.
I’ve been working my way through The Derry Girls on Channel 4 – absolutely hilarious and reminds me of my own 90s teenage years, albeit in Essex rather than NI!
5) Start a Journal!
If you’ve always wanted to journal, now is a good time to start. More than just keeping a record of your day, a journal can help you explore and sift through your feelings and experiences and learn from them. It’s a great way to get to know you.
It’s great to choose a beautiful notebook, but the most important thing is to just get started. Here are some prompts to get started with:
- Today I am feeling _________. I think this is because __________.
- One big thing I have learned during this crisis is _________.
- I remember the last time I was stuck in the house _________.
- One thing that’s surprised me recently is _________.
- What matters most to me in life is _________.
- Describe your ideal day _________.
“A journal is expressive by nature and it contains feelings, emotions, problems, ponderings and it is more reflective on the meaning of life being lived.” Lynda Monk
You may find this How to Journal article from the IAJW (International Association for Journal Writing) helpful to get you started.
The Mass Observation Archive are asking people to get involved in writing a diary entry for May 12th, a great way to kick off a new journal habit.
6) Be Kind!
This has been one of my mottos lately, along with Stay Well! Kindness and compassion are one of the most powerful tools any of us have in our toolbox right now. Many of us are largely housebound, never mind the fear that you or a loved one might actually catch the COVID virus. So, of course we’re going to feel unpleasant and weird.
- Use kindness to comfort yourself when afraid or feeling anxious or fidgety. Be gentle. Imagine you’re soothing a friend, small child or animal who is afraid – what would you say to them? Then say that to yourself!
- Use kindness to give yourself – and others – the benefit or the doubt. Instead of getting upset when you see other people behaving badly, remember that we all do silly things when we’re scared.
- Use kindness with friends. Chatting with a friend 2 metres apart and giving yourself a hug, while telling your friend it’s for them, honestly feels amazing and it’s the closest we can get right now!
- Imagine you have a kind, wise self. A part of you that is unflappable, intelligent and unconditionally loves ALL of you. Now, when you need it, imagine that kind, wise self is with you, supporting you, maybe giving you a hug – and saying exactly what you need to hear (not just the sugary stuff, but also the tough love and common sense).
7) Live Your Values
When we know your values, we understand what motivates and drives us. When we build our lives around our values, we create a life that is meaningful. Finally, when we align our actions with our values – we’re being truly authentic. It’s a very satisfying and fulfilling way to live.
And living your values could be the single most important thing any of us can do right now.
Here’s an exercise you can do:
- List your values on a piece of paper or in your journal.
- Give each value a score ___ / 10 as to how well you are living that value in your life now (where 0 is not at all and 10 is full-out).
- For the scores that are 8 or more – great!
- For the scores that are 7 or less out of 10, ask yourself, “How could I express this value more in my life right now?” “What could I do differently or approach differently, so that I feel good about how I live this value in my life?”
For example: You have a value of creativity, but you’re only managing to ‘go through the motions’ right now and your score is 4/10. Ask yourself how you could be more creative during this time – whether it’s cooking, gardening, art or writing or helping your kids do something creative, or even watching a documentary about someone creative you admire.
If you don’t know your values, now is a great time to learn. My 3 month life coaching packages all include us looking at your values together. Just pick a time and day here to set this up.
8) Send “Real” Snail Mail Letters or Cards
Go old-fashioned. Who doesn’t love to receive a lovely card or handwritten letter in the post box! Rediscover the lost art of letter-writing and make someone’s day.
Yes, you could send an email appreciating someone, and that’s great. But imagine your recipient’s face as they pick up that hand-written card in the letterbox.
Wondering what to say? Write from the heart! Here are some ideas to get started:
- I really appreciate having you in my life because ________.
- I love hanging out with you when we ________.
- I’ve realised that you bring ________ to my life.
So, which of the above ideas resonated with you? The areas I am focusing on are being kind and living my values – honesty, intuition and joy being my top three values. I’m doing this by sharing silly memes in my friends’ Whatsapp group, having scavenger hunts in virtual lunches and doing my best to be really present at this moment and appreciating those around me.
I’m also adding to my Mega-List of Links to help you thrive during these strange times.
Believe you have the skills and power to tackle this situation and you will! Choose to make the best of a difficult situation and no matter what – you’ll find a way.
This current and strange COVID-19 situation will end. And when it does, you’ll be proud you made the effort to learn something – whether it’s about yourself, fresh knowledge, a new skill – and who knows what else!
And remember, all of these activities are great for when you’re having an “up-day”. I hereby give you permission to have a Buffy watching, wear jammies, eat chocolate on your not-so-up days.
If this post has got you thinking about getting some coaching to start looking at your values, life or career vision, just pick a time and day here to set up a virtual chat with me.