With most of us in Australia (and the whole world really) approaching the two-month mark for lockdown, I wanted to take the time to check in with you all to see how you are coping with everything. My family is OK. I mean, some days are tougher than others, but overall, we’re just feeling really thankful to be together and healthy, and we’re trying to take a step back and enjoy this time together.
I know there are lots of downsides and scary things happening, and I do not want to minimise that. We wrote about a particularly devastating effect of lockdown in our article on domestic violence, and those people are on my mind every day. It is easy to get sucked into the vortex of negative news stories, and if that really helps you, then that’s ok. But try to keep a balance as well. There are still plenty of great things going on in the world each day.
Spend some time focusing on the happy stories
Some of the things I’m noticing have been really amazing. As we go for our daily walk, we are seeing families playing basketball and football outside, which is not something we previously saw in our local neighbourhood and we have been living here for almost 5 years. The colourful chalk drawings and outlines from hopscotch on the pavement make me smile and bring back so many beautiful memories for me.
I did grow up in a time where social media and the internet weren’t prevalent, let’s be honest my first memory of using the internet there was a cord we needed to plug into the cable near the phone outlet and there was this amazing dial tone that would echo around the house there was no hiding it when you were online. Instead my childhood was filled daily with all these beautiful moments I am seeing around at present; kids riding bikes and enjoying weekends packed with family time.
One of my favourite times as a child was making a car from a cardboard box, did anyone else do that? All you needed was 1 large box, 5 paper plates – this covers the steering wheel and 4 tyres, 2 pieces of string to create the straps to get the box to sit on your shoulders and you had your very own car. This was hours of entertainment.
Two of my favourite places for good news are on Facebook (check out the Kindness Pandemic for real stories of people looking out for each other) and John Krasinski’s SGN, which pulls the best fuzzy, feel-good stories of the week into a happy-tears video. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend. Safe to watch with your kiddo, too.
Don’t forget to breathe
This one seems obvious but stick with me here. One of my favourite techniques, which you can literally do right now as you read this, is the 3-4-5 breathing technique. Breathe in for three seconds through your nose, hold it for four seconds, and exhale for five seconds from your mouth. Repeat. Its amazing when the day or something is starting to get your overwhelmed or stressed; some days I have used this numerous times.
I do always feel so much clearer when I do this. I’m challenging myself to do this every morning for three minutes when I wake up, instead of reaching for my phone or jumping out of bed right away. Sit up, think about something I’m looking forward to doing that day (cup of coffee def counts), and BREATHE. 3-4-5.
If you accomplish nothing else all day, that’s OK. You balanced your oxygen levels and squashed your stress-cortisol in the first three minutes of your day. You’re awesome!
Unlock your inner creative genius
Whatever gets your mind going in a creative way is positive here, so you do you. Just because the paints are washable Crayola doesn’t mean that you don’t get to play too.
Try doing your own watercolour painting alongside your kid. Squish your hands into the play doh and build something yourself. Art doesn’t have to be gallery-worthy to be therapeutic. Or maybe you’ll find out you’re a closet artiste. Who knows?
If you want something a bit different or don’t have a little one’s art cupboard at home, treat yourself to an adult colouring book and take a few minutes every day to doodle in it. Write a story, keep a journal, whatever creative outlet makes you happy. It’s been proven that a few minutes of creative time every day can help us to get through stressful times in life.
Create a space in your home just for you.
OK, yes, easier said than done. Especially in a small house with a lot of loud people.
But it’s very hard to regain your Zen when you’re in the same room as unfolded laundry, your work computer, dinging phone, and the TV playing cartoons.
Even it’s just a small corner of your bedroom, put a favourite pillow there, maybe some fairy lights, essential oils if that’s your thing, whatever makes you feel good, and get some of that 3-4-5 breathing going.
Whatever you chose to do, please be kind to yourself. We’re all doing the best we can, and that’s all that can be expected.
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