Time, Connection and Space: Lockdown Tips for the Everyday
**This is a blog I wrote in April 2020, during the first coronavirus lockdown in the UK, before I had a website to publish it on!
I have been thinking about this blog and I feel that the main focus of prioritising time for oneself still rings true today and everyday.
Many women are still working from home, juggling work and family life like never before. Some of us are yet to see family and friends that we have been separated from.
So at this point in time, as life is about to start moving forwards and gathering pace, it is important to maintain some of the principles written about here with regards to managing time, connecting with loved ones and ring-fencing space for yourself and your own needs.**
In June 2013 I moved to New Delhi for three years. This experience of living and working in India has been on my mind recently, not least due to the similarities of how I lived then, on a compound, and how I am living now during the coronavirus lockdown.
The one thing I had lots of in Delhi was time. I had childcare, housekeeping, a driver and at the beginning, no work. Sounds great right? Well, yes and no. When I think back to those endless days, I remember trying and failing to fill them with various activities. While you could travel outside the compound there weren’t many places, in truth, that I felt comfortable going to on my own.
So I endeavoured to make the most of compound life; the swimming pool, tennis for a bit, walking circuits of the compound at various speeds and inevitably ending up in the on-site coffee bar. It wouldn’t be long before someone walked by and stopped for a chat, or an equally aimless person would join me for five cappuccinos.
But the point is that I tried to fill those days, because without any kind of structure or schedule my mental and physical health began to decline.
The days as I’d known them before, in London, were essentially structured for me; having to start and finish work at specific times, the weekly supermarket shop, buses and trains departing and arriving to a timetable (mostly), going to a dance class on a Tuesday, putting the bins out on a Wednesday and so on. But in Delhi? Scheduling tumbleweed.
As a dramatherapist I work psychosomatically; the body and mind as one, so what affects one affects the other. If you don’t use your energy you have none, whether that is physically or mentally and focusing on the psychosomatic I immediately noticed the effects in my body; fatigue, low mood, reduced self-esteem, irritability, weight gain.
This brings me to schedules and a focus on self-care as this is essentially what I was trying to figure out. So with the benefit of my mistakes and eventual successes, read on to find out how you can get what you need from the time you have now…
- Schedules! Scheduling can give a sense of control at a time when there is a lot of powerlessness being felt. The key to successful scheduling is It is so important to schedule time for things as long as it meets your need and current capabilities.
For example, if you need to go through a ton of emails, set a timer for 20 minutes and work solidly until the timer goes off. Have a break, walk around. If you can manage a bit more, then do a bit more.
The point is that doing 20 minutes of something will feel infinitely better than doing an hour of nothing. This can lead to feelings of overwhelm where nothing feels achievable and you can feel like a total failure. I’ve been there, I know.
- Loved ones should also be included in this scheduled time. In Delhi I had to work with different time zones and around boozy weekend brunches. There will be things to work around currently too, so schedule that time and stick to it. Now more than ever it is so important to reach out to those who we love and miss, for our emotional well-being as much as theirs.
- Journaling. A place for thoughts, feelings, agitations, reflections, hopes and fears. Like with everything else you’re doing right now, be creative. If writing reams isn’t your thing draw, sketch, stick in pictures or photos, play with colour, create a spider diagram, however you want to get down what is in your head.
The key principle of journaling for therapeutic purposes is getting stuff out of your head and onto to something you can see, feel, and reabsorb in a way that feels manageable. Journaling is a great tool for tackling overwhelm too. And when this time is done, you can look back on the good and the bad and know that you got through all of it.
- Do one thing every day by yourself and just for you. Not always as easy as it sounds but vital for your well-being. If time on your own is at a premium, schedule and timer it, even 10 minutes. You could read a chapter of a book, take a bath, go for a run, sit in the sun, do some gardening or gaming, dance, sketch, listen to music, bake or just lie down in a dark room.
See this as a chance to catch up with yourself. You need to replenish your own mental and physical resources before you can give to others or to yourself.
Doing this on your own is also important. As much as being with others can bring positive benefits, at this current time it can also bring extra anxiety or stress through transference. Think of when a friend was having a super hard time and told you about it, and you began to feel heavy and sad? There will be other points in the day when you can share that burden, but for now this is your time to focus on you.
My time in Delhi lasted three years and I enjoyed friendships, travel and fantastic tea. But there was also isolation, fear and poor mental and physical health.
The current situation may not last that long but the repercussions of it will certainly be felt for some time.
Be kind to yourself and others but don’t forget to schedule some of your time.
I also had some therapy during my time in Delhi, needless to say I recommend this highly!