I’ve been thinking about this for a while now (if I’m honest I’ve been thinking about this for the last two weeks beca
use this post should have been written in April!). I don’t know about you, but for me lockdown has brought a rollercoaster of emotions, feelings and behaviours, many of which can be contradictory and at times frustrating, but I thought it would be good to explore them here as I am hoping that I am not alone in this experience... and you might need that reassurance too!
I guess a good place to start is with this word ‘thrive’. What do we mean by it? What does ‘thrive’ look like? I think the first thing we all need to hold on to is that ‘to thrive’ will look different to everyone so this post is coming from my own perspective (and please remember that my perspective is, unhelpfully I think at times, influenced strongly by the world of social media, health and fitness gurus and their podcasts and You Tube videos of ‘wellness yogis’) and the idea that ultimately to thrive is to be successful, to be happily content to always strive for better, to be busy and productive and to radiate positivity. (Those that know me may by now have snorted their tea through their nose due to involuntary laughter at the ‘radiate positivity’ bit!)
So, if I ask myself ‘am I thriving in lockdown?’ ...given that I am nine days late in providing a blog on a topic I am passionate about. I think we can all agree that I am not thriving, by the standards set out above (that I have again, unhelpfully imposed upon myself). A more accurate picture of my life would be to tell you that I now have daytime and bedtime pyjamas, I am living for the weekends when the only difference is that I don’t have to feel guilty about the pressure of working, and despite my desire to remain healthy and active I have also committed to, and accepted, that I may gain what I am referring to as my ‘lockdown-14’!
Some of this I hope resonates with you too (that word ‘hope’ again... so desperate am I not be the only person curating a wardrobe of daytime pyjamas (‘loungewear’ would be too fancy a term!).
The thing is my internal monologue tells me I have all the time in the world right now to focus on being the very best version of myself. To focus on the daily habits that will provide structure and discipline, to learn a new skill, undertake professional development and really make time for my passions. My internal voice is also quick to point out that I am one of the lucky ones in lock down... I don’t have children to look after or home school, I have the luxury of a job which I can do safely from home, I am healthy (as are those I love) and I have a garden to enjoy the incredible weather we have been having. On that basis my internal little voice pipes up “you have the perfect recipe for success, you can (should!) not fail...” Despite this perfect cocktail of circumstances, I must admit, whilst there is a desire, the action isn’t so quick to come.
That said, and this is where I find things a little contradictory, there are some activities in which I feel I am truly thriving... baking and cooking (and eating!). I’ll admit I have for a long time loved spending time in the kitchen, but with the extra time that comes with not having to commute and (I know this sounds awful)... not having to socialise or ‘check in’ with people, I am finding real pleasure in taking my time with cooking and baking and providing yumminess for my partner (and occasionally the in-laws)... and taking the time is giving me great results... fuelling my motivation to do more. Cleaning, tidying and sorting are also tasks on the to-do list that get done rather than ignored. So, I started to reflect on this. Why these things? Why these fundamental functions, tasks or skills? Well maybe it’s exactly because they are fundamental. It takes time and energy - intellectually and emotionally - to engage with work, even passion projects, but for the fundamentals, well these, for me, are more organic. They come naturally to me and as a result I can make space for them more easily.... And of course, I realised a little too late, all those I see on social media (if we assume for a moment that it isn’t a world full of perfect snapshots and lies) are doing what comes naturally to them as well. And so, as if it was always going to make sense, we come back to this idea that to thrive is entirely subjective. It is personal and should not (and I don’t use the word ‘should’ often or lightly!) be dictated by others.
So, having made sense of this notion of ‘thrive’, what can I offer us? Well firstly if you are feeling under pressure to do or to be a certain way, ask yourself ‘where this is coming from?’ Are you comparing yourself and your situation to others? And then perhaps ask yourself what do you need or want or enjoy? Focus on that instead.
Secondly please remember that regardless of our personal circumstances, globally, we are in a state of turmoil. I don’t say that to scare you or to depress you, but to be honest and realistic. For many of us (if not all) the fundamental make up of our daily lives has changed. Whether that’s through our own health or those we love, through financial insecurity, changes in the way we are carrying out our work, becoming a home schooler, leaving the house infrequently or not seeing those we love. These changes are hard, hard to understand, hard to adjust to, hard to maintain and they come with worries and anxieties, loss and grief. So please remember that this is the backdrop upon which we are operating and if that means that today you had a shower, got dressed in your ‘good’ pyjamas or stopped at three biscuits instead of six - then that’s a win (any and all variations to the above also count!) That is thriving.
Finally, please hold tight to the idea that nothing is permanent. If you feel demotivated or overwhelmed these feelings will pass. There is joy to be found, even in these strange times, and there is progress to be made, but for now, be kind to yourself and take each day as it comes. Right now - you are enough and you’re doing great!