So, we’re a full week into January and pretty much a week into lockdown 3.0. Forgetting the usual resolutions, in this time of yet another period of staying at home, I think it’s better to be kind to yourself, not put massive pressures on your ability to ‘self-improve’, take one day at time and go with how you feel. Saying that, I have written myself quite a large ‘to do’ list which is pinned next to my fridge, (I like ticking things off,) though I have not given myself any deadlines in which to do it! I am personally feeling pretty positive at the moment, (I think that has more to do with a change in hormones than anything else – more to come on this). When we’re not able to do very much, it’s the little things that get us through, that we might perhaps have taken for granted before, or that we didn’t have enough time to do, so I thought they were worth noting and celebrating. I’m aware not everyone will be feeling positive at the moment, but I just wanted to share what is helping me. Little moments of joy, (without going all Marie Kondo,) really count right now, do let me know yours, we might inspire each other!
Something I guess most of us are doing. I am getting out for an hour every afternoon and my local park this time is not overrun with teenagers tackling each other in PE lessons, that I am truly grateful for! I listen to podcasts when I walk which give me a mental boost and reset, or if not, I enjoy the freedom of thought that fresh air brings. A few Podcast newer discoveries are: How to Wow with Chris Evans, (he interviews major stars, think Emma Thompson, Judi Dench, Graham Norton and really delves deeply, most are well over an hour,) Table Manners, (I know I’m late to the party, but Jessie Ware and her Mum Lennie, now feel like old friends and again, great guests,) The Shift with Sam Baker (ex Red magazine editor,) on life over 40, along with some old favourites like The Emma Guns Show, How to Fail, White Wine Question Time and Postcards from Midlife. On the cold, yet sunny days, I really do feel more upbeat, the sunshine is a great motivator!
For pure pleasure, not work. I love reading, but I often use it as a tool to fall asleep with or to fill a tube journey. A total luxury though is sitting with a good book for an hour or so on a weekend afternoon. No TV background noise, no scrolling Instagram, just me and the pages. I have a few lined up to get through, I am currently on Claudia Winkleman’s Quite which is as amusing as it is informative, then Rosamund Lupton’s new novel Three Hours, (Sister and Afterwards by her were excellent,) and also, I bought Michelle Obama’s Becoming a while ago which I am yet to read. Not putting pressure on myself to get through a certain amount, but just enjoying the time to do it!
Epson Salt Baths
I love a bath in the evening, but in normal, ‘working in town’ times, I usually only manage two a week and one of those is usually on a Sunday. I don’t linger that long, 10-15 minutes is my max, but with Epsom salts, they are great for soothing aching muscles, helping with stress reduction and aiding sleep. This week, I have managed five baths so far, which is a pleasure I don’t normally get to have.
Daffodils are one of my favourite flowers. I hate winter, particularly January and February and Daffoldils are a cheery presence, the bright yellow colour signifying that spring is on the way. I was shocked to see some in the supermarket already this week, seems earlier than usual, but I’m not complaining, I have a vase full on my desk / dining table (!) now which are a reminder to be positive.
Although I have mentioned not doing any ‘resolution’ things, working out is quite essential for my mental, as well as physical well-being. I really miss not being able to go to the gym and this year with my hormonal ups and downs coupled with lockdowns and a severe lack of sleep, I have struggled to keep consistent with programmes. My sleep is finally – I almost want to whisper it, so as not to jinx it – improving (!) and I therefore am finding I have more energy to stick to something and feel more like my old self. I’m currently doing Alice Liveing’s 28 day challenge. I bought myself some heavier dumbbells in November so her dumbbell based workouts are quite challenging, in fact my legs were sore for three days after last Monday’s session! The time of 7am is good for me with work and I like having someone else to rely on to do the programming and feeling like I’m joining other people, even though it’s virtually. It doesn’t have to be Alice’s, there are loads of free classes to do online, but I just like moving my body and sweating it out a bit!
Friends and Facetime
Ah, what would we do without our friends and also technology? Just being able to pick up the phone or Facetime / Zoom / Houseparty with a group of people you love and a beverage can really turn a bad day around and just make you still feel like you’re connected to humans, not just yourself. (I say this also as someone who lives on their own, I’m sure lockdown is intensely difficult with children and home schooling, but occasionally, it’s also difficult if you’re on your own,) good friends are something to cherish and be thankful for.
Big Mug of Tea
I know this sounds trivial or even a bit stupid, but I have a huge mug which I like to have my one, daily cup of tea in. Ordinarily, I don’t really have time to drink a huge mug if I’m commuting, but in lockdown my commute is a few steps to my dining table, so I am able to make my massive cup of tea (extra strong, with almond milk and half a teaspoon of sweetener,) and finish it as I start work, a luxury that used to be reserved for weekends only.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris
From the trivial to the significant. If you know me, you will probably know that I’m a generally left leaning, liberal minded person and I have watched with fear and dismay in the last few years at how drastically right wing, bigoted and regressive the world seems to have become. I really hope there is a new dawn in America now and that where they lead, other countries will follow, including our own.
I know lockdown is hard for lots of reasons, but I am personally trying to take it one day at a time and count my many blessings. What little habits and moments of joy are getting you through? I’d love to know.