Hi everyone, it has been a while!
Sometimes I can’t even believe what has happened.
A global pandemic, a deadly virus sweeping the globe, and the Prime Minister actually shutting down shops and schools and telling us we cannot leave the house?
It sounds like something from a book…War of the Worlds comes to mind.
This is the start of Week 13. I have completed the advised 12 week isolation period for people with an auto-immune disease. Even though some amenities are starting to open up again, those who are highly vulnerable have been told to keep shielding, and those who cannot enforce the 2 metre distancing rule have been told not to return to work (this is me even without the MS). So it isn’t over. Not by a long way.
On my Instagram account, I have posted a picture of something I did each day during that 12 week period. It was an idea I got from another account. In one of their videos, they said that some of their followers might find the thought of 12 weeks stuck inside on their own daunting, overwhelming, stressful. I hadn’t really thought about it like that. I was just overjoyed at the thought of having 12 weeks off work! A chance to rest, recharge and be paid 80% of my wages for doing 0% of the work! But I was very lucky. I live with my Mum and Dad, I had a whole pile of books I wanted to read and a freshly renewed Netflix account. I had quite a few things still to tick off my #30before30 list to keep me occupied.
For those of you who are having to keep isolating, I will tell you where I started.
Practically, I got the biggest piece of paper I could find and wrote down all the things I have wanted to do but always say I never have the time. Things like re-decorating, cleaning out the kitchen cupboards, re-organising the photos on my laptop, doing a jigsaw, setting up a Linked In profile etc etc.
This gave me a focus. A lot of empty time can feel overwhelming so this list gave me a starting point. Before I went to bed each night, I had a look at the things on the list and decided what I was going to do the next day. I found this super helpful in the morning, there was a reason to get up and get dressed.
Let me be real, I didn’t go hell for leather cleaning or painting or chucking out old stuff each and every day. I mixed it up with doing things for my mental wellbeing.
Because there was nowhere I ‘had’ to be, I was able to listen to my body and my head and if I was having an off day (which there were a few, Weeks 5 and 11 particularly!) I would rest, watch a film, sit all afternoon with a good book. Keeping your mental health on a level is the key at this difficult time. If I needed to cry with sheer frustration at the situation, I cried it out. Then I wiped my tears and watched something funny on TV. I always find laughing an excellent way to cheer myself up.
So as this uneasy time carries on, be proactive in using the time to do positive things for yourself, whatever form this takes. It might be re-reading your favourite childhood book, it might be watching the whole Marvel film series, it might be learning a new skill, or redecorating the whole house. Who knows. But don’t get swayed by what others are doing. To begin with, I felt the pressure to keep up with what my friends were doing. At my most stressed, I was panicked that I hadn’t exercised as much as they had, or learnt a new language yet, or baked cakes for all the neighbours.
I took a breath and looked back at my big list and looked at what I had done. I had had a go at plucking my eyebrows (I had never done that before!), I had 3 attempts at sowing vegetable seeds because magpies kept eating them, I watched every episode of Jane the Virgin, laughing and crying through out. And I thought to myself, they were things I really wanted to do, which was different to what my friends wanted to do with their time off and that was OK! The time was well spent, even if it was different to how others had spent it.
So as we carry on battling this virus, be kind to yourself. Always.