I think it kind of goes without saying but I know we are all just fed up with Covid. Tired of it, and also dreading this next phase. Our kids are back to school and nursery, but for how long before we get ’the call' to collect them and quarantine for 2 weeks? And with all the winter illnesses doing the rounds already, every sniffle and singular cough sends alarm bells ringing where we'd normally accept it's 'just a bit of a cold'. And although I've not had to do it yet, I'm dreading needing to go and get a test, and actually find a slot locally rather than take the one they offer me 657 miles away.
We've been doing this Covid thing for over 6 months now, and it is draining. Not knowing when we might see some friends and family again is also hard, particularly if the rules get stricter. Right back at the beginning it was almost a bit novel, Zoom quizzes and dinner parties were amusing, and we did have amazing weather. But it's clearly not going to be over by Christmas, and rather than feel a bit miserable about it all, are there things we can actually do to help us through this next phase?
Here are some of my thoughts and ideas...
1. Organise things to look forward to - whether this is small meet ups with friends, or a treat for you. For example, one thing I missed out on in lock down was a summer trip with 4 girls to Denbies vineyard for one of our 40ths. None of us have ever been despite it being so close! So we're going to book that in the diary as they're running socially distanced options now. Businesses have adapted and created new offers that meet Covid guidelines, so perhaps explore things you couldn't do before when we're in the thick of lockdown. Plus if there are any treats you can get delivered to home.. then think about that too. And put things in the calendar... ours was so very empty for most of this year, and there wasn't anything to look forward to. So I'm going to try and put things in that I see coming up.
2. Set some rules around the news and social media. Just when the 'rule of 6' came in to play, I upped my news consumption for some unknown reason. And it REALLY badly affected my mood. Not helped by Priti Patel saying that if I said Hi to another family we knew on the way to the park, we’d be officially mingling and breaking the rules, but it'd be okay to hang out with another load of families at said park, or even worse, in massive queues at Legoland or whatever - FFS! This and various other conflicting and inflammatory news articles really didn't help me. They just made me feel more angry, when prior to that I'd actually been quite accepting of the rules as they come and go.
So now, I limit my personal exposure to the Covid news. I make sure I'm up to speed on the rules, but that is it. I'm not tracking R rates, or following the testing debacle... just making sure I'm doing what I'm meant to be doing. Social media is the same - people can use it as channel to vent and display their anger and / or fear, and it is oh so easy to get wrapped up in some hateful arguments on there. So I try to limit my time on it, and also check just 'trusted' groups and pages (although even the school or local mums one can get a bit nasty at times!). But I do know that it massively affects my mood and how I feel about the situation that we're in. So less news and social media it is for me.
3. Plan. I'm going to plan. I know so many of us looked forward to the return of schools for the routine again - we like that structure, and it helps create a feeling of 'normal'. And I know I harp on about the importance of structure and routine in relation to your daily life, with food, exercise and movement. I fully appreciate that you might be forced to change that routine in the near future but it is oddly satisfying when you make a plan (important that it is achievable), that you then follow. From an exercise point of view, it is worth planning in your movement sessions, even if you do that on a weekly basis. Trust me you will feel a lot better if you do this and stick to it. It also doesn't matter if you can't do exactly what you set out to do... e.g. you wanted to do a 30 min workout but only had 10 mins so did some stretches or mobilisations instead, went for a walk, did ’one round‘ of a workout, or did one of my 'less than 15 mins' workouts. You still moved!
I'm also going to plan for the future... I guess this is linked to point #1. Planning from a 'treat' and 'fun' perspective but also for your future... whether that is work or family or going somewhere / doing something - even if you have to adapt those plans as our situation changes.
4. Note the positives. I started to try and do this in lockdown... it's not a very 'me' thing to do and I always thought the idea of gratitude journals etc were a bit naff. But when the negative thoughts spiral and you're feeling a bit cr*p about the situation we're in, I did find this to really help lift my mood and spirits. Just small stuff that I was grateful for. I didn't do a journal or anything like that... but just came up with a few things that were good that day or overall that I'm thankful for.
5. Focus on my health & wellbeing - I'm generally quite good at this but not always if I'm feeling a bit negative, so I'd just like to reiterate that the exercise you do and your diet should not 'punishment' for something that you feel guilty about - cake, wine, cheese, pizza or whatever. Instead your exercise, movement and food should be to nourish your body, make you feel good, help you feel better, fitter and stronger - do what is good for YOUR body and mind. And consider a vitamin D supplement as we go in to the winter. Read here a blog post I wrote a while back.
So those are the main ways that I've been thinking how I'm going to cope with the next 6 months. I don't want it to be doom and gloom. I hope some of this might be helpful to you too. And if you've any other strategies or ideas for how you're going to approach this next phase we'd love to hear it.
Lastly, here are a two memes that have made me laugh in the last week... they might make you chuckle too...