Here’s my top 10 tips and observations, as I pause to reflect on my own Covid-19 journey
- The Power of Positive News and Connections – Negative news sources, or energy from others can be powerful sources of poor mental health. With so much sad news over the past 18 months its been even more important to try and focus on the good. Trying to aim for a negative to positive ratio of 1:4, or in some cases 1:5 when reading news feeds or social media stories, is proven to help your mood, as the ratio aims to neutralise the effect of the negativity. Sites like Happy News and Positive News have been just what I’ve needed during this time. I’ve also found watching competitive sport really uplifting and despite the disappointing end to the Euros, it felt really good to be part of so much positivity and now we have the Olympics too!
- We all need more Movement – Sitting stationery at a desk all day is no good for anyone, we must all learn to move more regularly. I learnt this the hard way this year having to cope with a trapped nerve in my neck. I’m quite an active person, but the pandemic has meant that long periods of sitting during the working day have crept into my routine, the result according to the physio, the trapped nerve! I’m almost fully fit again, and back running, but not without making some changes to my working day. Injuries and pain should be a reminder, to take time to look after our bodies, after all, we only get one!
- Understanding the Impact of Relationships – Understanding what we all need from relationships at different times of our lives has such a fundamental role in our happiness. Learning when to place some distance between those that don’t support your values or believes, and cultivating the ones that do, can be a game changer. The older I get the more I’m realising that relationships, just like life, change. Some stay, some go, and some might return in a different disguise later in life, but most change in some way. Perhaps one of the most important questions when things don’t seem right, is ‘what do they bring to your life?’
- How to Create Positive Habits? – If you want to create a new habit, you’ll need to make some changes. In my case it was changing my morning routine and I’m pleased to say, the Power Hour is still helping me in so many ways. It may not be as consistent as it was at the beginning of the year, but it’s still allowing me to do loads of things I never used to, like read, listen to podcasts, I’ve even re-launched my website and am writing more. The good news is that all this was possible by making a few changes to my life, like changing the location of my alarm clock and my bedtime routine. If you struggle with forming new habits, perhaps try and think of someone else you’re trying to create this new habit for, you’re more likely to stick to it if you’re doing it for someone else – as the human brain is wired for altruism! The same reason that those in the know, believe that you are more likely to wear a mask to protect others than yourself.
- Creating Effective Boundaries – I’m really proud to say that I have now managed to ring fence part of my week to allow for creative projects, something that has been missing in my life until recent years. The pandemic has given me the time to explore creativity again, with very little agenda, aside having fun and seeing what happens. I recently gave a talk at my co-working space about reconnecting with my creative side and was interested to hear how many people had started creative projects during the first lockdown. Sadly, they went on to say how disappointed they were that they had already let them slip, because of the restrictions easing. When they were asked why that was, the same responses came back, simply ‘lack of time’. This make me think, do they really have no time, or is it that when we slip back into old habits we simply don’t prioritise the things we really get most joy from. Perhaps, it’s easier to switch on the TV, than it is to read/write/learn something new. If this sounds familiar, perhaps have a think about the boundaries you have in place to make these things happens if they matter to you.
- Sleep – Not enough of us prioritise it, and most of us don’t recognise how much sleep we individually need. Have a think about when you are at your most alert, focused and healthy? If it’s when you’re having 8 hours of sleep a night, then how can you help maintain that pattern. What can you do to change your bedtime routine so you are winding down, without screen time affecting your quality of sleep? Perhaps like me, you were struggling to get up earlier? What’s your exercise/meal time routine like at the end of your day, how does it affect your sleep pattern? Small changes will make the world of difference, trust me!
- History – This has been a massive learning curve for me, and one I’ve learnt so much from my experience as a coach and being coached myself. Your past doesn’t need to define you, but it’s so critical for us to understand it and use the insight to learn from. Many of our behaviours are learnt when we are really young, so the next time you’re struggling to understand someone’s behaviour, or even your own, perhaps use the 90 pause technique. Pause, think, and ask yourself why do you think they/you behave like that? What could have influenced them/you to where they/you are today? How different might their life have been to yours?
- Societal Pressures – I believe society can be the cause of so much good, but it can also create unnecessary pressures, and those pressures can come in all forms, and the focus on having a family can sometimes feel exhausting for many. Pronatalism is a new word I’ve only discovered over the past year, one that seems to ring true in many areas of our lives, I just hadn’t realised until having a family of my own was no longer possible. Sometimes, I do wonder if there hadn’t been this over arching pressure from society for women to have children, would there be so much pain surrounding infertility or being Childless not by Choice. When I froze my eggs some years ago my Dad said to me ‘if it doesn’t work out, try to remember that there’s so much more to being a woman nowadays than having children’. So I wonder, if my 81 year old Dad thinks this, why doesn’t society seem to reflect it?
- Reframing Thoughts – Last year I was struggling big time with over analysing my thoughts, but with the help of my coaching experience I am learning to let things go, or even reframe the way I look at things. Something I’ve found particularly helpful is reading about the FLEX approach, in Poppy Jamie’s ‘Happy not Perfect’. It’s full of great tips and insight on how to process your thoughts and offers a new perspective.
- Grateful for Resilience – Whether it’s been taught by my parents, or indirectly through learnt behaviour as a child, either way I’m grateful for it. I’m proud that I’m able to pick myself up, dust myself off and that the roller coaster of life is continuously teaching me so much about myself, and the new perspective is now helping others. As quoted by Poppy ‘just imagine if we worshipped overcoming our troubles as much as we do happiness’.
If you’re interesting to know more about my journey, how I could help support you to find more fulfilment in yours, I’d love to hear from you.