Feeling pressure to make the most of these strange times?

Ambitions to introduce something new and exciting to your lockdown routine? Finding ‘lockdown lethargy’ competing for that space instead?

Having good days and bad days, yet never really know what day it actually is?

Niggled by social media memes demanding you emerge as a newly skilled-up phoenix?

Feeling overwhelmed by the whole situation, yet hesitant to rush back into a new normal too soon?

You aren’t alone.

These are strange times indeed and everyone is coping (or not) in their own way.

We’re tired, restless, virtually connected, and physically isolated. We may not be missing the commute but are missing so many other things we took for granted.

We have strange intense dreams, yet real life seems to merge into one long day that was apparently a week. We’re eating and drinking more than we like to think about. We’re not ourselves. We can’t be. We’re all going through something and we need to respect our individual ways of processing that.

It’s different for everyone.

Motivational posts during lockdown

Now, I love a good motivational quote or meme and there is a time and place for them but there are a few doing the rounds right now that, rather than being motivating, for some, risk creating more pressure and stress.

For example, whoever created the “If you don’t come out of this time with a new skill … you didn’t lack time, you lacked disapline” meme, probably wasn’t home-schooling, whilst trying to keep their business alive from their lounge, and shopping for their elderly neighbours.

Even if someone is in a secure situation and suddenly has all the time in the world, there is an emotional toll to this situation that drains energy in a way that we’ve not quite experienced before on this scale. Mass uncertainty on a global scale can provoke a new flavour of anxiety and everyone is processing it differently.

What might be a fabulously motivating ‘kick up the butt’ for one person, could feel like a world of extra pressure and judgment to another.

If you are in the latter group, this post is especially for you.

Take a breath

Obviously, this is not business as usual. Allow your new emerging needs to be met with gentleness and care. This is stressfull enough without adding on pressure to emerge with a new skill, your novel written, having lost a stone, or levitating! 

Some people will do well just to get through this time with their health and business intact. The last thing anyone needs is extra feelings of pressure or judgement. You won’t be surprised to hear how easily perceived pressure from an ill-timed post can trigger someone that is already feeling vulnerable, into greater levels of anxiety.

If you notice this happening to you, reach out for some mental/emotional support from a loved one or a professional. Try limiting your exposure to triggering content and distract yourself with things you find nurturing and supportive.

There will also be some free audio-visual resources for help with this coming soon.

Re-assess & Simplify

Another thing that can help is to make this an opportunity to stop, re-consider, and to simplify our life. In fact it might be the only way to successfully get through this new reality without dropping the important balls.

It can be useful to remeber that there are two main motivations behind everything we do:

1) to move towards feeling good or

2) to move away from feeling bad

We can re-assess the way our life was and see if it was really working for us.  Which people and activities were helpful and healthy and which were part of our lives out of habit but that no longer serve us.

Start with how you want to FEEL and assess the elements of your life that move you towards that feeling in a healthy and sustainable way. Likewise, review the things that don’t. What would balance and simplification look and feel like for you now.

This time can act as a reset

Without the distraction of a full social (and in some cases, business) calendar, we have an opportunity to tune in with our real needs and emerge out of this with a clearer sense of what we really want and need, going forward.

And if you are run off your feet with having multiple full time jobs at home now (Teacher/ Childminder/ Employee/ Etc.) taking a step back to simplify and prioritise might be prove to be the most effective way through this.

Now is not a time for perfectionism. It’s time for prioritisation. Whatever works for you and your family is all that’s necessary in this moment. Release judgement, everyone else is busy ‘just coping’ too. Find your own rhythm.

Real Needs?

It’s certainly looking a lot like we all need fresh air, exercise, sunshine (VitD), good company, nourishing food, loo roll and a robust global health care system, more than we ever needed that latest fashion item or celebrity branded whatsit.

(I should probably also add a strong internet connection and Netflix to that list too!).

Just as what we really need to survive comes into clearer focus, so do the roles in society that provide those needs. We have an opportunity to respect our real needs on an individual, national and global scale.

External expectations

With that in mind, it’s a good time to do yourself the kindness of releasing the stress that comes with the exaggerated perception of external expectations. Tune into what YOU really want and need and gently start releasing any outdated expectations in a way that is safe and approprite for you now.

Are you still trying to prove something to a ghost from your past that’s long gone, a family member, the snooty schoolgate mum, or just your old self? Let it go. It’s a great time to put it to rest and reset.

It’s possible to be ‘new’ by letting go of what no longer serves you, rather than picking up something new to take wth you.

Supportive Practices

To help with the above, maintain a sense of wellbeing and reduce stress during this time, I recommend the three following practices that you can do from home, by yourself, anytime, for free: 1) exercise, 2) meditation, 3) EFT.

This combination is a great maintence protocol in or out of lockdown.

I’m sure many of you do these already but if you don’t I’d encourage you to experiment with them as supportive measures and see how you get on. Even for short periods of time it is well documented that they can make a huge difference to our wellbeing. It doesn’t need to be an ‘all or nothing’ scenario, just something you gently introduce and experiment with.

‘Exercise Snacks’:

Try gentle ‘exercise snacks’. 5 to 10 mins of gentle stretching, a bit of cardio like a walk, or try squats or standing push ups against a wall while the kettle boils, walk around with your phone call instead of sitting. It’s easy to fit a little in here and there if you try. It all adds up and doesn’t need to be a slog.

Short meditation and visualisation:

Try starting with 5 to 10 mins breathing and relaxing, going inward to find your own piece of calm. Then focus on the feeling of a happy moment or memory, name the feeling, give it a colour, let that colour and happy or peaceful feeling infuse all through your body and then out into the world. Whenever you need a quick pick me up or to center yourself, repeat.

EFT:

Gentle tapping on the EFT points when you are feeling stressed, naming your concerns aloud, acknowledging them and tapping through them until they start to dissipate. Reframing when and where appropriate. Great for shifting undesired trapped feelings. If you want to go deeper into emotion release or would rather work with someone on this, get in touch.

A little bit of something is better than a lot of nothing and right now self-care is so important.

Finding what works for you during this time and supporting yourself mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually, not only better supports your immune system but creates a strong foundation for whatever comes next.

And if you do want to and have the time to start a new project, exercise regime, creative project, or business – that’s great too, just make sure it’s coming from a place of internal desire and joy rather than external pressure and expectation.

This too shall pass.

Summary:

  • Don’t put pressure on yourself right now if you are struggling. Getting through is good enough. There will be better days.
  • Reach out if you need help.
  • Tune into your needs and take great care of yourself. What you need now may have changed.
  • Simplify where you can.
  • Prioritise things that feel good and support your wellbeing rather than trying to do ‘all the things’.
  • If you need a break from social media or the news, or anything else – give that to yourself.
  • Try experimenting with gentle meditation, EFT or exercise to help support you through this time and going forward. They are free accessible tools that can help. Explore others that you’re drawn to.
  • If you’d like to know more about any of these tools or to work with a licensed professional, feel free to get in touch.
  • This too shall pass.

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2 replies
  1. Helen
    Helen says:

    This could have been written for me. I recognise so much of what you’ve described. For the first couple of weeks I felt under pressure to do something, I worried that I would be judged for not helping in some way. Then I saw the opportunity to take a break from everything, hit the pause button, reassess who I am, what makes me tick, what makes me happy. And there’s been some hard truths but I feel so much more positive about the future now that I’m just answering to me and not worrying about impressing others.

    And I just stretched while waiting for the kettle to boil. 😊

    Reply
    • Sussex Holistic Therapy
      Sussex Holistic Therapy says:

      Fantastic Helen! Sometimes taking a step back is the only way to take that leap forward – in the right direction. Congratulations on all your insights from reassessing. And for your kettle boiling stretches! 😉 Best of luck with all that is to follow. It sounds very positive indeed. Thanks for your comment, Ruth.

      Reply

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SUSSEX HOLISTIC THERAPIST & COACH
RUTH ANDERSON-DAVIS