How are you feeling? Tired? Fed up? Bored of it all? I don’t think many people are feeling truly alive right now, and can’t wait to feel that way again!
My emotions cycle through all of the seasons many times a day (or even by the hour!): from sunny joyful optimism when I think of the mass vaccine roll out and our impending freedom to feeling entombed in the avalanche of responsibilities to keep my family, home and work up and running in Lockdown. Or feeling even heavier still when I hear of and feel the heartbreak of another life lost to COVID.
This week I’ve reluctantly come to accept that we are in both a literal and metaphorical Winter here in London. That we are hunkering down. Feeling the seasonal pull to stay warm and cozy and so perhaps a lockdown in winter matches the season. But at the same time we are straining under the weight of all the additional activity required of us to work and parent and now school our children from home whilst everything we usually rely on to function shuts down around us. If you know anyone who still believes that “working from home” is for the unambitious and lazy, send them my way. Bob will teach them.
And I can’t even imagine how hard it must feel if you don’t have the luxuries of on-line shopping, childcare or equipment at home for online schooling. I have all of these things, and, it’s still tough not to dip down from my usually up and sunny optimistic outlook. I’ve found it helps to constantly remind myself that in a “usual” Winter I never doubt that life is still working its magical way mysteriously beneath the snow or inside the roots and trunks of the dead looking trees.
So why would I not trust that it’s doing the same now?
I just can’t see it yet, but Spring will come.
I can hear you thinking: telling me Spring will come sounds poetic Lauren but these hopeful words wont get my child home schooled? They wont help me to safely shop for what I need? They wont help my elderly relatives to get through this wintery Lockdown in one piece!
I know. So let’s get real with each other. Life does feel pretty sh$t and frazzling right now, right? My own waves of sh$tty feelings have forced me to think about what I can practically do now to make this feel a bit better. I’d even take a 1% improvement (and universe bring it on if you fancy giving me more, thank you). I’ve had this feeling that this is the time to put into practise and implement some of the things I’ve learnt to see if they actually help. A bit like wondering if all that running on an inside treadmill would ever help me to run away from a lion out in the wild (ok, this is probably a really poor analogy; we all know I wouldn’t last long). So during this UK Lockdown 3:0 I’m going to play with some tools from my Mary Poppins bag to see if anything gives me back more energy, more time or more mojo vibes. I’ll share whatever seems to work in the hope that if it helps me and my family in some way, it might help you too. And if they don’t, I’m sorry, but perhaps something else will (and please let me know!). Let’s keep working together to find ways to lift each other up as we wait for Spring to come. We are going to be flipping ninjas by the time this is over!
Tool No.1- Activation Energy:
This week I’ve been playing around with this super simple concept from “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor (a book I love). Basically, it means looking at what steps you can take to minimise the effort and energy required from you to get anything done (i.e. its Activation Energy). It’s about making things easier for you to start doing them, and so making it more likely that you’ll actually do that thing on the regular (ESPECIALLY when you’re tired – anyone??). This is really powerful if you use it for anything which will positively impact your life or how you feel if you do it. Expending less energy, to get more energy. Perfect right?
With this concept in mind I’ve been thinking about the little things which help me feel better when I actually do them, but often dont as it feels like too much effort. So I’ve been focused on my sleep and taking my vitamins. I know, I sound like a child.
Setting myself up for GOOD Sleep: 7 hours of sleep is the sparkly gold key to me feeling good (and being a nicer person 😊) so I take it very seriously. There are some things, which IF I use them, help me to sleep better (p.s. sorry, they’re not in the least bit sexy!). So looking at it now through the eyes of minimising activation energy EVERY MORNING as soon as I’m awake (and I’ve brushed my teeth) I’m now setting myself up, straight away again, for that night’s sleep! I put my night mouthguard, oura sleep monitoring ring, and 2 Pukka “restful sleep” supplement pills on my bedside table, there and then. Then, when I later roll exhausted into bed at night there is NO MORE EFFORT required of me other than putting my hand out to reach them!
It now seems that when I don’t don’t take those 2 minutes in the morning when I’m usually feeling good to set myself up in advance for the night it’s HIGHLY unlikely I’ll use these things as it just seems pointless and like too much effort when I’m tired and cranky later. Will I sleep without them? Sure! Do I get a better night’s sleep more regularly with them – YES! Yay to a happier me with less effort!
Taking my vitamins: I used to rarely remember to take my vitamins as it just seemed like way too much effort. But my poor thyroid is very pleased when I do. I remembered a friend saying over dinner “why don’t you use one of the pill containers people use for medicine”…. TA DA! It’s making such a difference!
This sexy vitamin caddy is now being filled up ONCE a week for everything I need for the week ahead. No more fumbling around each day to hunt them down, counting them out and picking them up off the floor when I invariably drop them everywhere. This little one stop shop vitamin suitcase now sits huddled up against my daily protein powder so it’s in an easy place for me to reach and remember to take them. In fact it now takes NO EFFORT AT ALL to remember, and I’ve taken them daily. Go me. Shiny hair and nails r us! (yes I will accept vitamin sponsorship :-))
See how sexy playing around with Activation Energy is right now as it GIVES US BACK our time and energy whilst setting ourselves up to feel better. I’ll take some of that!
If it sounds good to you, maybe have a think about a few things which if you made them easier to do, you’d do them, and feel better for it. Could you put your vits next to the coffee you reach for every morning? Could you automate your weekly online food shop so you don’t have to remember to book an elusive spot (so saving 2 hours in a virtual queue)? I’ve even been known to sleep in my gym kit so when I wake up I’m good to go and do the bit of exercise I need to feel good! Nothing is ground breaking here, just little adjustments here and there to help you to feel a little bit better.
Yes we might be in winter, but we can still look for ways to make it a little warmer and a little easier on us and those around us. And when we feel better things might feel more hopeful.
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