Okay, so we've had the latest announcement in England and I'm very aware that as we head towards another lockdown, you may be feeling a sense of overwhelm, you may be feeling frustrated and you may be feeling out of control. Or perhaps all of the above.
Humans are creatures of habit and our brains thrive on structure. When we suddenly have more downtime it can leave us feeling lost. It's ironic because when we are always busy we crave time to do nothing but think...then we find ourselves alone with our thoughts and it's not all fun and games.
Something I am hearing from clients at the moment is that they are wondering where they are going in their lives and they don't feel they are 'enough'.
Overall, it seems like many of us are feeling a bit disconnected from our purpose and that's not at all surprising considering the events of this year. You might feel this deeply if you find your purpose and sense of self comes from your work so it will feel like a double whammy if you work in a sector that is struggling at the moment.
It's time to get strategic and start to think how you want to handle this next lockdown and beyond.
Here are a few thoughts and ideas I have on using our extra downtime for good and nurturing our mental health instead of overthinking and worrying about things we may not be able to change.
Think about the last lockdown
Was there a thing (or things) that you would like to change from the last lockdown? If there is, then focus on whatever it is right now and work out how to change it. By doing this
you will feel happier, more supported and therefore, more in control.
Did you find yourself getting into some habits that you want to change? Work out what this habit gives you - for instance were you scrolling through social media for hours - if so maybe you were looking for a sense of connection that you didn't feel at home?
Or maybe you were looking at social media, using it as a distraction from what you really needed to be doing?
When you work out what you were getting from that habit, ask yourself what can you do instead that might help your wellbeing in a more positive way.
Sense check your thoughts
First of all, if you catch yourself overthinking then give yourself a break. It's natural for our busy minds to fill in any extra downtime - and if all the messages around you are worrying and negative ones, then of course we know how this goes - we absorb what we are focusing on and before you know it, your perspective makes the world look even bleaker.
If you would have previously spent an hour or two commuting and are now finding yourself spending that extra time simply worrying or refreshing your in-box, then consider how to better allocate your time.
What is it you want to do? Go for a walk or a run, write a job application, do an online grocery shop, call a colleague or a friend - whatever feels productive and useful and adds to your sense of purposefulness.
Basically, if it's helping you feel positive then that's a good choice and if it's making you feel anxious, then change it.
Don't overwork (or overthink)
There is plenty of advice out there about work-life boundaries (I've even written some myself) so I am not going to give you specifics on this.
I simply want to remind you here that burning the candle at both ends isn't healthy or sustainable. Of course put some energy into keeping your job/business going, finding a new one or whatever the main objective is for you right now.
But remember that burning yourself out will not help you in the long run. I know it sounds boring but you need to maintain a healthy balance for the sake of your mental wellbeing, focus and overall energy.
Your brain needs to rest sometimes and if you take regular breaks you will see your mood improve and you will be able to concentrate and focus more easily.
When you don't give your mind a chance to refresh and reboot, it doesn't work as efficiently - it really is as simple as that.
2020 has been a marathon, not a sprint, so pace yourself.
Bake as much as you want
Just don't end up with a house full of banana bread...last lockdown's most popular bake.
Seriously though, this tip is about doing productive things that bring you joy and remember also to stay as active as you can - both these things are going to do your mind and body the world of good.
Anxiety, worry and other dark thoughts tend to multiply the longer you sit with them. It really helps to get up and do something to take your mind off your problems and it will shake up your mood and energy a bit.
Get out of your head. Make some plans to call a friend, colleague or family member at a regular time in the week. If it's in your diary then you have something to look forward to.
The bottom line is this. The more you can do to stay positive, the better mindset you will be in. This puts you in line to spot more opportunities and when you do, you will be in a better place to respond more positively.
If you want a quick mental reset to work out what your lockdown priorities are then I am now offering some single coaching sessions - that might be all you need to get your mind into a place where you feel less overwhelmed. If you need me get in touch, let's have a chat and see if I can help.