The world has gone a bit bat shit, hasn’t it?
When I launched this blog a few months ago the objective was to focus on rousing travel, food and events.
Then, someone in a far-away land decided to devour an iffy soup, prompting the Lord to unleash upon us a respiratory plague, deeming the start of the new decade, mine, and everyone else’s plans, an entire write-off.
I spent the best part of January and February organising several trips across Europe for the summer and waiting in queues to excitedly purchase tickets for up-and-coming events… Do you know what queue I have found myself in this week?
The one for the bathroom.
Because every Tom, Dick and Harry is at home.
On top of that, I am currently out of a job – it would appear an Area Marketing role working across 12 pubs isn’t particularly effective when the pubs are closed, so my employment has been put on hold ‘indefinitely’ bringing me to the next queue I have found myself in this week – the online one trying to claim Universal Credit.
I am a bit of a panicker, to put it lightly, so the paranoia linked to Covid-19 has become so overwhelming, that every time I find myself in a breathless heap after running up the stairs, I have to remind myself it’s because my body is made up of 90% Rioja and sausage rolls, and not because I’ve contracted the virus.
If like me, you suffer from anxiety, then you appreciate that this situation is absolutely exacerbating it, and the only real cure for lockdown blues is keeping as busy as possible so you don’t get eaten alive by the very real notion of impending doom – I’ve deep-cleaned my Mother’s kitchen so many times the only real danger to my lungs thus far, is the excessive inhalation of bleach.
Once I started talking to people about how worried I was feeling, I discovered that the majority of those I know are feeling exactly the same, which in a way is comforting, but in another, is concerning.
The problem is, if we don’t talk about things and allow ourselves to think and behave rationally, then those negative feelings begin to manifest in different ways; like stuffing your larder with enough pasta to run the electricity in every house down your street for the remainder of the year.
You may think that your mental health only affects you, but the truth is, the poor decisions you make based on the negative things you are feeling create a domino effect that ultimately, ruins everyone else’s day.
I think I speak for most people when I say one of the most disconcerting things to witness over the past few weeks, is the lengths that humans will go to when they are scared and panicking.
In simple terms – try not to be a wanker.
Anyway, I thought it might be an appropriate time to share with you some of the tips and tricks I have picked up that have really helped to steer me through the first week of lockdown, kept me calm, kind and in turn, prevented my family from making me sleep in the shed.
If you can find even one thing useful, then this blog post won’t have been a monumental waste of quarantine.
CREATE A R(Y)OUTINE
I have literally written myself a rota to keep on some sort of track. It’s been difficult with the daily developments introducing new rules, but by creating a basic schedule, kickstarted by cashing in my ‘one exercise per day’ with a morning jog along the seafront, then dividing my day into creative projects, I have almost been able to convince myself that I’m not in quarantine – I’m just a super cool, creative liberal who doesn’t believe in the conformist ways of society and the rat race… Not to mention, the traffic from the bedroom to the living room is an absolute dream; every cloud.
FORGET THE MEDIA
As someone whose mobile phone is more or less a permanent extension of their person, it is almost impossible to avoid the foreboding news alerts and social media conspiracies.
Friday 20th March at 8.30pm will go down as the worst BJ in history.
However, we do have control over how much information we let in; only open yourself up to what you know you can handle. I, personally, have realised that delving into the dark corners of the internet and surrendering to scaremongering does not make me feel bright and shiny.
Take some time out, switch off, change the channel, this isn’t Clockwork Orange, you don’t have to keep watching.
ESCAPISM IS A STAYCATION
As the founder of Invisible Land established in 1999, I am very much an advocate of ‘escaping the real world.’ There are literally hundreds of activities you can do to send your imagination on a holiday, without physically leaving the room.
I have been jumping on the bandwagon of live-streamed exercise classes whilst also working my way through the pile of writing projects I have never had time to start. I’ve also dived back into music, and spontaneously decided to learn French – then again, I have a lot of time on my hands.
Even throwing yourself into a new book or starting a new easy-going TV series can be the perfect escapism for your mind during these difficult times.
If not, just keep a bottle of vodka handy and do a shot every time you hear the word ‘unprecedented’ – you’ll soon lose your grasp on reality.
You don’t have to be within two-metres to communicate with someone. Apps like HouseParty have been a huge saving grace for me, allowing me to remain in contact without the anxiety of putting friends and family potential risk – I think I genuinely have communicated with people more than I would have done usually; I guess that’s the human nature of wanting something more as soon as you’re told you can’t have it – like the pub.
Group chats, emails, phone calls, just because you’re self-isolating, doesn’t mean you have to feel isolated.
Remember, if you are feeling anxious, then talk to someone about it, the chances are they are feeling exactly the same. There is no room for too much pride, now more than ever, we need to steer each other through the hard times, if you need help then ask!
Nature is hugely calming – there is a reason people hug trees!
Obviously, this is a greater challenge when we have been asked to stay indoors, however, you can get creative with it! Even something as simple as opening the window and feeling the breeze can help keep the claustrophobia at bay.
If you have houseplants, pop them all into one room, scientific studies show that they support productivity and wellbeing – it’s another easy way of bringing nature to you.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a garden, take the opportunity to wander outside, even if it’s pouring down with rain, the universe is so much bigger than our anxieties, and these things will pass; we should try and take comfort in that.
These are undoubtedly fretful times, but each day I am focusing on what I can do to remain grounded and positive.
I have found the best way of not losing my mind, is to stop putting so much pressure on myself and the universe, patience is a virtue, and time is a gift – when will I ever have the opportunity again to dedicate so many uninterrupted hours to learning about myself and developing my skills?
Let’s not sugar-coat it, the whole thing is shit. However, realistically, worrying, complaining, pointing the finger or being a tool won’t make it any less shit, and it certainly won’t make time move any quicker, so all you can really do is be responsible, and play your part in making this easier, and end sooner, after all: “Worrying means you suffer twice”
And remember: only arseholes need toilet paper.