Tag Archives: quarantine

Self Care In A Pandemic (72): Psychologically Crossing Over In The Pandemic….There Is Another Side….

Have hope.

Dear friends, have hope.

Perhaps life, the pandemic, your experiences have put you in a psychological box and kept you ‘stuck’ within what you think is the realm of possibility.

However, as someone coming through on the other side of complex PTSD, I am living proof that there can be psychological crossing points in our life, where after we have suffered, and pressed through, we can come out stronger and wiser on the other side.

What challenges are you facing today? Particularly what psychological bridges do you need to cross? Will you take that journey? Will you believe that you can cross over to the other side? It may be tough going at times and it may be psychologically gruelling but you are strong enough and if you persevere you may find a brighter day ahead, new avenues of thought and freedom.

If you are at a psychological bridge in your mind, know that persevering, pushing through, keeping on going through the strain and the pain will lead you to somewhere new and you will not be the same. We can’t go through such psychological shifts and remain unchanged even if it takes time for us to see that change and even if on the surface it seems that nothing has changed at all.

If you are in lockdown, it may on the surface seem like you are repeating the same habitual patterns over and over again, day after day. You wake up, you go through whatever morning routine you go through, you eat, work, play, sleep and repeat and your days on the surface vary little from one day to the next. But what makes you different from other people who do the same or similar things and stay ‘stuck’ mentally? Maybe on the surface not much has changed, but are you being transformed by the renewing of your mind? Are you allowing your mindset change and in doing so you change the way you see, experience and appreciate the things around you, things that would otherwise seem ‘ordinary’, ‘mundane’ and ‘commonplace’?

A lot of life is spent in normal times in our fast paced societies running away from things, running to the next thing, filling up our minds with information, distractions, escapism. In lockdown perhaps we’ve spent time with escapism and distraction and while at times these can have a helpful place, such as if we need for our own mental health to distract ourselves, living like that is unsustainable. Moreover, we’ll get bored of it after a while. We can’t live life if we’re always running away from it, or from ourselves. Maybe you’ve been there pre-pandemic times. Maybe your and my constant ‘running’ or escapism has led to breakdowns or burnouts or psychological fatigue at various points.

What if we were to cross some psychological bridges as we make our way slowly and carefully through this pandemic? Perhaps in less time than we anticipate it our societies will be back to more of what we were used to as ‘normal’ and staying at home will seem like a distant memory in time. Maybe then we will long for the extended periods at home that we are having to go through now. So, will we use this time well? Will we take time instead of being dissatisfied to cultivate gratitude? Will we learn and train our minds to be thankful and to see the beauty and the life in the everyday?

Will we cross other psychological bridges that we have needed to for so long now? Don’t waste this time that you have right now, your mind may lead you to some new destinations where you can see your life with greater depth, clarity and gratitude. Cross that bridge. Begin today. x

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Self Care In A Pandemic (45): New YEAR’S Eve…Reflections on The Year Gone By – Part 1…

We’re on the cusp of seeing out 2020. What a year it has been! As I write this blog post, I am thinking of ways in which I can use this space to encourage you. In doing so, I feel it is an opportunity for me also to gain insight into this year, and how to move forwards.

2020 – A Year Like No Other:

Regardless of where you have been in your personal life journey, the events and happenings of 2020 will have had some sort of impact on you.

I wonder if a ‘recap’ is in order, of if many among you may just wish to forget what the past year has brought.

I’m pretty sure we all just faced our first pandemic. I still remember the early days when the coronavirus was an unfortunate news story of an epidemic outbreak in China and a few other parts of the world. I don’t know about you, but living in the UK that seemed pretty far away from me and my daily life.

If you wish to look back at my blog archives to around this time of year, earlier in December 2019 I actually went traveling to the Black Forest in Germany and enjoyed the snow covered mountains of that beautiful region. I enjoyed the hustle and bustle of festive European Christmas markets in Germany, and also in Strasbourg, France.

The Year In Which Our Plans Changed:

Heading into the new year, January 2020, my mind was busy brainstorming potential travel plans for visiting the European countries I had not yet had a chance to go to, before Brexit and the UK’s Exit from the European Union finally took hold. Well, today is the day, folks – from 11pm tonight GMT, the UK will no longer be under EU law. It has been somewhat of a chaotic few years politically to get to this point, but here we now are, and in a very different world.

Who knew that all of those potential travel plans for 2020 would evaporate in a puff of smoke?! I remember meeting a couple of my female friends for coffee in January to catch up after Christmas and New Year, and they were telling me that they had already booked trips away to France and Italy and were looking forward to ski trips and summer holidays. ‘The best laid plans of mice and men…’ and all that!

I remember being concerned for my friends as one of them had booked to travel in late February, and by that time I’m pretty sure Italy was taking quite a hit from the coronavirus. Suddenly things felt so much closer to home!

The First Lockdown and a New Vocabulary:

In the UK, news of the coronavirus soon overtook what we thought would be the big news story of the year – Brexit – as cases began to rise in Italy, in France and in other European countries.

Words that we didn’t use much in general conversation suddenly became common parlance. Suddenly there was talk of ‘quarantine’ for people traveling back to the UK from abroad, and as the virus spread, this worked both ways with other countries quarantining travellers going to and from the UK.

I am a bit of a ‘clean freak’ as it is, and in normal pre-pandemic times at work I would always be taking extra care to avoid germs, and would use a handkerchief or tissue to open doors, especially when touching those door handles outside the ‘restrooms’ or communal toilets. Gross. Most people didn’t bother, and I don’t think hygiene was uppermost in everyone else’s minds. I guess I’m just a bit more aware of things like that, and I even joked with some colleagues about how I’d take my own bedcovers and cleaning supplies when staying in hotels or traveling so that I could ensure cleanliness! You can’t be too careful, after all….

What might have been a joke to other people, gradually became part and parcel of daily life. I remember talking with a friend at work about our concerns about the virus, and she said that her colleagues were making fun of her for taking it so seriously. Sadly, the virus proved them wrong, and quarantine, lockdown, and hypervigilance to cleanliness has become part and parcel of daily lives.

I was concerned and expressed my concerns with my boss prior to Mother’s Day in the UK in mid-March when I wanted to visit my family. At that point in time the public health message was that coronavirus mainly affected only older people or people with underlying health conditions, and the tens of cases that we read about in the news were mainly only of people aged 65 and over.

Long gone are those days now. The older age group were expressing concerns over being locked in and made to stay at home, but it wasn’t long before we all had to. Boris Johnson, the UK Prime Minister declared that we all had to stay at home, protect the NHS, and save lives, and on 23rd of March 2020, the United Kingdom went into its first full lockdown.

Suddenly, the word ‘unprecedented’ also became part of our daily conversations and newscasts, as nothing like this had ever happened in recent history during peacetime. People who remembered the Second World War knew all about lockdown, rationing and quarantine of sorts, but most of the rest of us had never experienced anything like it. We have it easier than previous generations who had to deal with real rationing, shortages and the threat of death from a perhaps more frightening enemy, yet the coronavirus was still having a devastating impact upon our country and across the globe.

(End of Part 1 – to be continued…).

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Life After Lockdown – Think and Plan Ahead.

*Think and plan ahead*.

At this moment in time I am writing while feeling pretty ‘woozy’ 🥴 . I’ve got that feeling of being on a boat that is being rocked side to side by the waves, and while it is getting difficult to concentrate or to keep my equilibrium I have experienced this, and even stronger sensations, so many times that logically I can tell myself that this discomfort will pass, and the waves will be stilled. Peace will return again. In the meantime, I can choose to persevere through it, or let it overwhelm me. Making the right choice takes practice when something is a frequent feature of our lives.

There is a certain amount of discomfort that we will have to learn to adjust to and persevere through in our ‘new normal’ post-lockdown. It will take time, thought, planning and practice to make certain adjustments.

If the ‘world out there’ and the ‘new normal’ all seem a bit overwhelming for some of you, then try to break things down into smaller, more manageable pieces.

Remember that you can only live one day at a time, moment by moment, therefore it won’t benefit you to worry about tomorrow, or the next day, or a year from now. Plan and prepare, but get into the practice of choosing not to worry.

In ‘normal’ (pre-lockdown) life I struggle with sensory overload. I could be standing in a supermarket and the sound of more than one conversation, or music playing, or people walking past can throw my wee brain out of kilter! It’s the same with most situations for me, so I’ve had to learn to cope and adapt and it is an ongoing challenge. Maybe you don’t have to experience things like that in your day to day life, but perhaps the adjustments of a world post-lockdown feel unsettling to you and make you feel a bit muddled yourself (you’d be in good company 😉 ). If so, try thinking ahead, planning for the different situations you might encounter, take some time to read and think about what some of the new legal requirements are (such as being aware that non-compliance regarding the use of face masks in certain situations will result in a hefty fine in some places) so that you won’t be caught off guard. Keep the essentials handy (face masks, hand sanitizers, etc) until the ‘new normal’ becomes part of your normal.

And if anxiety about life post-lockdown feels like something you don’t have to worry about, then that is great, but recognise that there may be people all around you who will struggle or feel overwhelmed, so try to help and encourage them.

Having a bit of a mental ‘road map’ will help you prepare for the situations you might face and help you adjust to what might at the moment be making you feel uncomfortable, uncertain (or ‘woozy’! 😉 ).

And remember, when all is said and done, we can each only live one day at a time, so don’t take on the mental and emotional burdens of unknown tomorrows, even as you plan ahead. 

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Lockdown Life Lessons (3). (Interactive Series).

As we move into the third instalment of this interactive series of reflection prompts, today’s question will hopefully help and encourage you to recognise your developing strengths and abilities during this time of global change.

Prompt 3:

Think of some positive things this time of lockdown / quarantine / restrictions has taught you about yourself that you didn’t know, or weren’t as aware of before.

Write down some thoughts about what you have learned about yourself.

Do you find this one difficult to get started on? Try breaking this big concept into smaller, more tangible parts. For example, think of your living situation. Have you spent lockdown alone or with others? What qualities were you able to notice or develop in this situation? For example, did you surprise yourself with selflessness, acts of kindness and patience towards others, being thoughtful and respectful of other people’s needs? Or did you discover a resilience you didn’t know you had to ‘tough it out’ all on your own?

Have you discovered a new skill that you wouldn’t have had the chance to develop before? For instance, did circumstances throw you into an unfamiliar world of home schooling your kids, if you have any? Did you become more resourceful in managing finances, food, and household maintenance? Were you able to share your expertise with other people and in doing so see new aspects of yourself? Did you get to grips with new forms of technology and communication? Did you take part or take initiative in helping people in your community in some way? Did you fundraise, did you inspire others, or did you develop new ways to keep yourself fit, healthy and occupied?

Remembering that we’ve all been living through a pandemic, the positive things you have learned about yourself, or developed further, needn’t be ‘big’ things. Things you might not have paid much attention to before do have a significance and an importance, no matter how small. Perhaps you’ve been the caring friend who has ‘lent an ear’ when someone needed to get in touch, maybe you’ve made facemasks and PPE for key workers, or maybe you’ve kept on keeping on through depression, anxiety, fear or weariness, and just kept ‘showing up’ for yourself and those around you in whatever small and seemingly ‘ordinary’ way you can.

Take a moment to jot down a few thoughts taking into consideration something positive or new you have learned about yourself throughout this time.

So perhaps you are wondering what I might choose to share. I’ve learned that I had the resilience to manage lockdown with almost zero human company (in person – I’m very thankful for technology that allows phone calls and communication with others) for almost 100 days. It was in fact 96 days of almost complete solitude. It wasn’t always easy, but I did it, and without the lockdown / quarantine situation, I probably never would have done this. I chose to press through the difficulties and be positive and helpful to others where I could, and learned that I can cope in isolation. We are allowed to encourage ourselves for getting through some challenging situations.

So take a moment to acknowledge something about yourself and tuck that lesson away like a treasure in your heart, so that when you think back over 2020, you will take some positive things with you as you press on. ❤

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Surviving the Pandemic Together. Words of Encouragement (17): *Your children are looking to you. Who will you be for them?*

*Your children are looking to you. Who will you be for them?*


Children are far more perceptive than many of us realise. They pick up on subtleties and sometimes keep their thoughts and feelings to themselves when they are unsure of things.
Whether or not you have children of your own, it is likely that there will be young people in your life, who need stability and security from the adults around them.
If your children are younger, perhaps you may be able to shield and shelter them in a safe little cocoon away from the world. They may be too young to understand what is going on, and only know that their routine has changed and you may be able to give them a safe and positive experience through this.
Yet, even young children can pick up on things from adults that we sometimes fail to pay attention to.
For older children, teenagers and young adults, this may be a much more confusing and unsettling time, and chances are, how they get through this will impact upon how they do for the next few years in their lives in terms of resilience, outlook on life and even mental and emotional health and wellbeing.
It might be easy to get caught up in the immediacy of this pressing situation, but they need you to be their role models, their leaders, their examples. In a world where greed and selfishness is coming to the fore, can you be kind, giving, selfless? Are you showing them an example of fear or of faith and courage? Are you providing them with the learning opportunities to build skills and resilience to face an unknown future? What are the certainties that you can lay down for them?
We are all examples to children and young people in some way, even if we don’t have children of our own to nurture, love and protect, we still have a part to play, whether as teachers, aunts or uncles, friends and mentors.
Teenagers who have not been able to sit their exams this year may feel like it is a catastrophe in their own personal lives. Do they have the space to talk about and express how they are feeling? Can you and we assure them that actually there are so many opportunities that don’t depend on exam results and that we are all living in changing times where we will have to adapt and learn, and that they *do* have a hope and a future. If you don’t believe this yourself, if you are doubtful and fearful, it makes things a bit more of a challenge to them.
Pay attention to the mental health of the young people in your life, and set the examples that they need you to be right now. Let them know that there is a way forwards, and that there is hope. And above all, listen and love and provide a sense of security and safety so that they can grow through this and not be crushed or overwhelmed by it.

light sunset people water
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Surviving the Pandemic Together. Words of Encouragement (15): *Is this really happening? How on earth has this become our new “normal”?*

*Is this really happening? How on earth has this become our new “normal”?*


Once we have got over the initial panic and fear and taken action to establish some kind of safety for our loved ones and our friends, and once we are safely tucked away in our homes (most of us reading this at least, I presume), we will be faced with a range of thoughts and emotions.


As I have explored in this series of posts, we will be juggling with the practicalities of daily life, and also the bigger life questions perhaps running in the background of our thoughts. We need to consider a new routine, a new way of living, a new way of being as a society, that seems to be becoming increasingly restricted day by day, for our own good it seems.


But at some point, once we do begin to feel a bit safe and settled, we are healthy, at home, have food, are able to help and support others in some way, the ‘craziness’ of this situation may hit us.


It’s important to be kind to ourselves and each other as we process things, bit by bit, and to prioritise self-care. This is *not* normal, this is nothing like any of us could have anticipated, and no one can tell you what the right or wrong way to process this is, because none of us know.


As with many of my words of encouragement, I will once again reiterate the importance of community. The reality of faith and God in my life is what is getting me through, but not all of you have that. We need each other. These are strange and crazy times, and we need to figuratively put our ‘I’ pads away, and become the generation of ‘we’ and not just ‘me’. I’m thankful for technology that is helping us to do that.
What is helping you to process things?

collage photo of woman
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Surviving the Pandemic Together: Words of Encouragement (12): *Get moving and stay in training*.

*Get moving and stay in training*.
Have you noticed that as we are now in a form of ‘lockdown’ in the midst of this pandemic, people are beginning to take notice of things they may have once taken for granted? There are the obvious big things, like life itself, health, being able to draw the next breath. Yet there are also other things that we might begin to notice more: nature, the colour of the sky, the freedom we once had to be able to go outside without the level of fear or apprehension we now face.
Maybe what you miss is being able to go out for a walk, a run, or just the natural flow of movements you make throughout the day as you go from place to place.
During this ‘lockdown’, movement and physical activity will have a direct impact upon how well you cope with being indoors most of the time. It’s important, regardless of your level of physical fitness, to get moving and stay in training. You might be an athlete, or you might be mostly sedentary, or like me, you might be somewhere nearer the middle of that spectrum. Even if you can’t go outside, try to establish a routine where you will be moving and exercising at least 3 times a week, if you can’t manage everyday. This could be something as simple as some basic stretches to begin with, or some seated exercises and low intensity movements if you don’t feel you can manage much, but the important thing is to do things regularly, even if a very little at a time, depending on your fitness. Don’t put pressure on yourself, but remember that the endorphins produced when you get moving will help you to (a) feel better (b) have a more positive outlook (c) manage your emotions and stress responses (d) help you to manage and regulate physical and psychological pain.
So even if you feel you can do very little to begin with, do that little bit, and keep going. It will help you to build up both your physical and mental / emotional resilience.
Feel free to comment on your exercise of choice to inspire and encourage other people.

woman in black leggings while walking on brown road
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