20th April 2020
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Firstly, congratulations. You’re making it through the biggest global health crisis of a generation. Whoooop. Whether we should have seen it coming is something that will no doubt be dissected and debated for many months to come.
But in the moment of it happening: when one minute we were all merrily singing ‘Happy Birthday’ and the next we took a smack to the face of our health, our freedom, our economies, our entire way of life - well, you’re here, you’re surviving and you probably want to regain some form of balance back to your life, which is why you’re reading this article.
The past few weeks may not have felt much like a holiday, but a lot of people have been treating it like the Holidays - alcohol, rich comfort food, lack of exercise, lots of TV and screen time have all been commonplace. Global marketing insights have shown that in the UK, Europe and US, consumers’ viewing and listening habits are reflective of what would usually look like weekend or school vacation behaviour.
And despite the plethora of exercise and movement live streams and videos that are being shared, many people are more likely to sit and watch than to actively take part.
People are obsessively checking their phones, for incoming messages from family and friends, for the 24 hour news cycle updates and to view what other people are doing on social media platforms like Instagram.
You personally might be sitting on business worries that simply cannot resolve until this has all passed. Or perhaps you’ve watched Frozen 2 too many times on your free Disney + trial and now your dreams are haunted by Olaf.
Perhaps you’ve just baked too many damn sourdoughs and you’re over it. You’re not alone. The British trainer Joe Wicks’ excellent YouTube PE series has dropped from 6 million views to 600k views in 3 weeks.
That’s not because it’s not still excellent, it’s simply a visual representation of a world that went all-in too quickly and is now thoroughly fed up. All the funny memes, the Whatsapp banter, the yoga mornings are drying up quicker than the puddle of orange juice you spilled on the rug yesterday and didn’t bother to clean up.
And let’s be real, we may know for sure that we have another 3 weeks of full lockdown, but it could quite easily be 6 or more if earlier-hit countries are anything to go by.
So this is the point at which you need to choose whether you are willing to push through and try to create a structure for yourself. And it is a choice. The circumstances that caused the change to your lifestyle may be involuntary, but your response to it doesn’t have to be.
Here at TheBalance.Club we believe that the core elements of every person’s wellness can a) be led by them and them alone and b) because they are self-directed, their wellness can withstand the passage of time, circumstance and even the meteors that we’ve all experienced this past month.
So if you can, try to view structure, not as another restriction on how you live, but as a deliberate positive response that you’re putting in place to elevate your life.
What you don’t want to maintain these next 3-6 weeks is a passive emotional reaction to the curveball that’s been thrown in your way. It’s fair to say that we’ve all had our immediate and involuntary Corona reactions.
These may have involved any or all of the following: fear, panic, anxiety, anger, wine, lack of sleep, too much sleep, stockpiling, anger at stockpilers, snacks, shouting at politicians on the TV, crying at emergency workers on TV, watching too much TV, wine, Whatsapp hysteria, panic, gratitude, snacks, clapping for the helpers, not bothering to shower, Whatsapp fatigue, wine…. Let’s stop right there.
A multitude of feelings have been felt, and that’s fine. But now is the time to regain control of your wellness and put into place some proactive responses that will give you the tools not only to survive the outcome of all this, but to recover and then thrive. And you can’t do that if you’ve been hungover for 2 months….
So, what’s the best way to get your sh*t together on lockdown? The answer is incredibly simple and also incredibly challenging: Continue your usual routine as best you can. Before you laugh out loud, consider it.
Obviously, your routine may need to adapt. It may need to look a lot different than it did 3 months ago, but it will provide some much needed control in these uncertain times. We aren’t going to give you an hourly breakdown of when to do yoga and when to run a homeschooling class - there are enough of those online - but there are some small key things that you can do right now to bring yourself back to centre. And don’t wait until Monday.
Drink more water. Your water consumption has probably halved to make way for coffee, tea and alcohol. If you usually take a big bottle of water to work and drink your way through it at the office, do the same at home. You should be drinking 1.5 - 2 litres per day, that's around 8 glasses.
Move your body. But do it in the way you usually do it. It’s a stretch to ask someone who’s never taken an aerobic class to suddenly start doing zumba over the fence with their neighbours. If you usually walk to work, go for the same length walk as usual, at the same time if you can. If you run on a treadmill at the gym, switch it for a park run of the same duration. If you usually listen to a podcast when you exercise, keep doing that. Enough is changing right now, so don’t try to implement a whole new fitness regime. But don’t duck out of moving your body either.
Take one step away from the booze/snacks. You know what your balance is with alcohol and/or snacks. Have one less glass of wine this week, or one less candy bar, or one less bag of crisps. Have at least one moment of active consciousness where you turn down that easy comfort and do something else instead.
Speak to the members of your household as if you have visitors present. You may have developed a shorthand set of grunting responses to your partner or children, you might be more flippant or dismissive than usual, or reach a point of anger quicker and that’s all understandable, but the quickest way to right it is to imagine you had friends or coworkers in your kitchen, and behave in a way you would want them to find acceptable.
Monitor your social media noise. Do you have a hysterical friend who forwards every piece of breaking news or every funny meme related to the virus? If it’s on Instagram, mute them, if it’s in whatsapp, mute the chat and don’t be tempted to catch up later. If its direct texts then take a day to reply and apologise for being busy with work/kids/house cleaning. They will soon find someone else to panic to if they’re not getting a response from you.
Take breaking news notifications off of your phone and only check the news every hour/2 hours/3 hours - dependent on how incessant you have been so far. Breaking news isn’t going to directly affect you unless something is happening outside your door - and if it is then you’ll hear about it through your window. Instead, try to consume all media in the same way you usually would. A big ask right now, but if you don’t usually have The Ellen Show on at 3pm in your office, then don’t have it on in your living room.
Go to bed at the same time you usually go to bed on a weeknight, and get up when you usually get up for work. Keep weekends looser, but don’t screw up your sleep for 3 months because you’re giving yourself yet another challenge you don’t need when all this is over.
These are small but extremely important habits.
Everyone took a hard left in early March and now it’s time to start moving the dial back towards centre. Reducing down the noise will give you back a small sense of control and, hopefully, peace. It will help you be more present with your children, partner, housemate or anyone you may be isolating with, and if you’re isolating solo it will help you be more present with yourself.
If you find you have extra time on your hands because of these simplifications, then think about how you might want to use the time. Don’t worry, we’re not going to suggest Zoom parkour with Jenny from accounts. But we’ll be back in Part II with some helpful ideas.
In the meantime, stay safe, stay inside, get your sh*t together and we’ll see you soon.