Tag Archives: work from home

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 (54): Work From Home & Weekends…

Hi Friends,

I hope that you have had a safe, healthy and peaceful first week of 2021. I hope that if you have faced challenges along the way that you are digging deep and finding a resilience within yourself to persevere and a faith to look beyond yourself for greater strength.

Although this post title aims at those among us who are now or currently working from home in this pandemic, I think some of the main principles can apply to all of us. It can be easy when there is no physical boundary between work and home life to let the psychological boundaries blur a bit.

Have you ever heard people say, leave your work at work and don’t bring the burdens of the office (or other work place setting) home with you? That can be a huge challenge in and of itself, but what about when work and home are in one and the same setting?

Some of you may also be trying to juggle home working with daily routines and other aspects of family life such as child care, parental care, home schooling / education and the list is as endless and unique as the differences in our lives.

Whatever your scenario, it is important to have some emotional and mental boundaries even when you can’t have concrete physical boundaries. Just as we looked at in previous posts about the importance of having boundaries between ourselves and our news intake and also boundaries in relationships and in other things that might be emotionally or mentally demanding, we also need to establish healthy boundaries between the different aspects of our lives.

Some things at work this first week back have been bothering me, but I need to remind myself that the weekend is a time when I would normally be away from the office physically. Although with home working I could check my work emails when I couldn’t before after leaving the office, it is important not to allow the boundaries to blur too much.

If we are to care for ourselves we need to set aside time to nourish ourselves, to rest, to spend time with the people who we love and who love us whether in person or online or by telephone or some other means so that we can be recharged and ready for the week ahead.

During lockdown I’ve been so fortunate in that my church has had online services that have been broadcast on You Tube. This has helped to remind me of when it is Sunday and to purposefully set aside that time as I normally would. I’ve had more time to set aside during the days as well for time with God, prayer, worship and building myself up spiritually and sharing with others.

However, sometimes we can get caught up in things as the days and weeks go by. The past year has been a challenging one globally and the recent events of January 2021 for anyone who has been watching the news and seeing the …..(pause to try to think of an appropriate word)….indescribable events in America, we know that there may be challenging times ahead for the world in 2021.

We need to maintain our wellbeing and resilience, and we all have a variety of commitments, duties and tasks to attend to in our daily lives. Maintaining mental and emotional boundaries between these is so important.

As the days go by I will continue to share tips and ideas with you regarding what I find helpful that you may also find helpful. However, this post is more of a general reminder as we reach the close of week one of 2021 that this is an important point and aspect of your life to bear in mind.

People will try to encroach upon you even from a distance, even when working or studying from home. It is ok and it is good to give and take but don’t become depleted of your strength and resilience. Don’t let things blur together so that you are no longer demarcating time for yourself to rest, recharge and recover so that you can become stronger and stronger for the days ahead.

So on that note, I wish you all a happy weekend. Thankfully I don’t see blogging as work but as enjoyment, so you can expect to hear from me again very soon for more encouragement and reminders that it is important to care for yourself as well through this pandemic. x

Stay safe, stay well. x

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Self Care In A Pandemic (8) Wellbeing Breaks…

“Come apart by yourself and rest awhile” ❤

I’ve been appreciating the benefits of some of the self care elements that I’ve explored in previous blog posts in this series. Those such as having a structure, order and routine / purpose to our days, healthy habits, and boundaries of various sorts, and so forth.

For example, today I was able to have a reasonably productive morning routine, check in with work, meet some key deadlines and correspond with colleagues on various issues, update logs, and keep things on track for myself and other people in related teams. I took a short break for exercise, food and a bit of fresh air by stepping outside for a few moments. That being said, I have been having tension headaches for the past couple of days. Although as someone who feels more energised in solitude than in busy atmospheres of a lot of company / people (which my usual office life would involve…I suppose you could call me an introvert then, and I’d happily embrace that term – someone who loves company in smaller settings with deeper connectedness, loves her own company, and feels really stressed out and anxious with the overload of information from busier settings), I still have found a sense of stress during my working day from time to time.

I love working from home far more than working from the office, as I still can keep in touch with a few close friends by email, without the stress of all the other people and goings on and commutes and office politics, etc! Even so, having routines, structure, and self care in our days doesn’t mean that within these we don’t feel a challenge to our wellbeing.

Taking what I’ve decided to term a ‘wellbeing break’ is making a sort of commitment to yourself that your wellbeing is important. Although the structure of a working day from home, if that’s your situation, might be a positive, in and of itself it isn’t enough. Within that structure you might experience stresses of emails, demands, expectations and deadlines from other people, and that can affect up physically, mentally and emotionally in a variety of ways, which can lead to a build up of stress and we might not feel or be on top of our game.

So within those structures and boundaries, it is important to learn to listen to what our bodies are saying to us. I realise that the tension headaches start to appear when I am working and even though I might be doing a great job from my boss’s perspective, the external output isn’t necessarily all we should be focused on. So if you are feeling a bit stressed or unwell during the day, take time out to check in with yourself, and do something that will help you feel well and get back on track. This could be switching your computer off for a while and coming back to tasks later, getting some fresh air, eating something healthy or exercising, doing something creative and so forth.

I think we need to be able to manage boundaries and expectations with ourselves and each other and this also involves working on our communication. We don’t need to rigidly stick to our desks when working from home for a set number of hours, as it is important to take care of our wellbeing too, and that may make us far more effective and efficient and helpful to others in the long run.

I’ve talked about things that I’ve experienced, but even if your situation is completely different to mine, and even if you are taking steps towards looking after yourself, which is wonderful, in the middle of those positive things, you might have ups and downs, and that’s ok. So, if your body is telling you something for example, your head hurts more, you feel tense, stressed, anxious, worn out etc, then listen to it, take a ‘wellbeing break’ and find out what is going to work for you to take care of yourself and notice and respond to those often uncomfortable, but so very helpful and important internal cues.

Take care my friends, and remember to take it one step at a time. x

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As the year goes by…

Today is 30th September 2020. At almost this exact time last year, on 25th September 2019, I wrote the following blog post, which you may be interested to read:

livingfully2017.wordpress.com/2019/09/25/the-racing-doesnt-stop-even-when-you-do/

I talked about the way our busy, fast-paced lives can leave our minds racing, even when we physically stop at the end of the day, and the ways in which our use of technology can contribute to this mental and emotional overload, while also highlighting the personal benefits of blogging as a use of technology. I explored ways in which slowing down, creating more space and time to do things that benefit our wellbeing, creativity and taking time out of the usual busy lives we live, can be beneficial to us on so many levels.

And here we are, in 2020, and many if not most of us have found ourselves, by default of the pandemic, ushered out of our busy day to day lives and routines and into a slower, more ‘removed’ kind of a lifestyle.

Of course, there are so many of you who have not had the chance to slow down this year. Those of you to whom the rest of society owes a huge debt of gratitude. Those who are front line or key workers, whose lives have only got busier and perhaps more stressful as you care for the sick, the vulnerable, deliver essential supplies of food, medicine, and so forth.

So many of the rest of us, however, have found ourselves spending much more time at home, perhaps working from home, maybe isolated and living alone, or seeing only immediate family members as the restrictions that the Coronavirus pandemic have brought upon us, continue to refashion the ebb and flow of our daily lives.

Yet, how many of us have been able to embrace this as an opportunity to slow down and look after ourselves and those around us, as we may have wished to be able to do a year ago?

With various health issues, I have often ‘dreamed of’ being able to work from home in the past, but was never granted the permission to do so, yet this year, many other mainly office-based workers like myself have been able to benefit from working from home as the new default in this public health crisis. I have personally found this beneficial, yet I know of others who have really struggled with working from home, and am aware of others still for whom being at home is an unsafe or unsettling environment.

Isn’t is strange when the things we may have hoped for become reality but through very unexpected circumstances? In 2020 we’ve seen our world be turned upside down by the pandemic, and across the world despite us approaching October and the end of the year, countries are still trying to navigated these uncharted waters, and find a balance between protecting public health and keeping economies afloat, all in the midst of some key political and social events in certain parts of the world.

I wonder where you are from and how you have been managing the changes this past year, if any of the changes have been positive for you, or what has been particularly challenging. I wonder how your country has responded to the Coronavirus crisis, and what you think could be done better? What were your thoughts around this time last year?

I’d like to think that looking back in a year from now, we will see progress, on a global scale, and green shoots of recovery, yet there are many challenges ahead, and in many places across the world, it seems that governments, medical professionals, and scientists are at the moment ‘fire fighting’ to address the immediate damage while trying to plan and prepare for the longer term.

We may not have a great deal of control on what happens on a global scale, but as we approach the autumn and winter of this year, we are once again reminded by nature’s gentle changing of the seasons (and as I write I observe the beauty of the juxtaposition of green leafy trees with bright autumnal reds and oranges beginning to appear), that it is time to slow down, reflect and move from one season to the next.

Many of us may have physically slowed down, but as described in my post from this time last year, are our minds still racing and overloaded even when we stop? Have you been given a chance to take time out of the busy day to day of your previous life, and are you yet still overwhelmed by the constant stream of bad news that we’ve been hearing this year?

Do you have any stories of inspiration of how something positive has come out of this collectively difficult year, or how you and your community have responded to help others?

Have you embraced a slower pace of life? In this year where we are all in such need of encouragement and community even as we perhaps are physically isolated, do you have any words of hope to share here? It would be an honour to hear your stories, but in the meantime, try to remember to take every opportunity you can to seek Peace and pursue it, even in the midst of the storms. Be blessed. x

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Coronavirus musings: When you have to stay in….let it be Christmas! :)

I’m not in isolation or lockdown or anything like that yet, and am thankfully fit and healthy and well, however, more and more it looks like the country and the world is moving in that direction whether  you have symptoms of Covid-19 or not. The rationale is to contain and minimise the spread of the coronavirus.

It strikes me that people are responding very differently to the thought of having to stay indoors or limit their activity for an extended period of time than when they might be in a similar situation say during the Christmas holidays for example.

I’m still out and about going to work, although keeping my distance as much as possible, but the government is recommending that employers allow staff to work from home, so it is a wait and see time for us until we get definitive direction. In the meantime, we have to keep showing up.

However, I digress. There is a difference if you have to stay indoors and you are the only one in that situation, but there is, or at least there can be, a sense of community and camaraderie and shared experience when you know a large percentage of the world are in a similar situation. That’s part of the reason why I love Christmas, and the holiday season, because despite the diversity of beliefs, there is a sense of a shared experience.

Now, I know this whole pandemic is a different situation entirely, but let’s just think of how we can help and encourage each other to stay happy and healthy and mentally well during what might eventually turn out to be an extended period of time indoors. How can we help each other to counter the fear and anxiety that is so rife? Many people may find themselves completely symptom and virus free, but be advised by their employers or governments to stay at home, for the greater good. At any other time and in other circumstances, many of us would jump at the chance for some work from home days, or the chance to take a break away from it all in the comfort of our own homes. However, in this climate of fear, we are reacting very differently, or so it seems to me.

Ok, so maybe you are well and yet having to stay at home. I’m kind of hoping that I will be able to work from home too, but like I said, it’s ‘wait and see’. My heart goes out to those whose livelihoods and jobs are at risk, but if you don’t have those issues and simply have to stay indoors, how can we make the most of the situation?

I think if I have to stay inside for an extended period of time, I might put up my Christmas tree! Perhaps that seems strange to you if you live in sunnier climes, but I live in Scotland, and although the days are lighter and we have some dry days here and there, spring hasn’t really ‘sprung’ as yet, and we do get more than our fair share of rain, so some days it does still feel a bit ‘wintery’.

If you are new to my blog, I have written various series’ on self care, staycations, mental health and wellbeing, retreats of various types, and keeping cosy, so hopefully you will find some inspiration to make the most of an otherwise uncertain time.

Think about the things you would ideally do if you were organising a ‘staycation’ for yourself in your own home, or town. How many of us so often feel the need to ‘get away from it all’ without the practical hassles of travel, and to just have some ‘down time’ to think and reflect and nurture our own souls? How can we be people who seek to be encouragers and a positive influence when all around us is panic and anxiety and uncertainty?

For me, if I were to have to stay indoors, these are the things I would focus my attention on:

Drawing even closer to God, enjoying His Presence, allowing Him to continue His work of healing and restoration, and building up myself in my true identity so that I will be stronger and a vessel for His use in greater measure than before. Spending time with the One Who Loves me most and learning from Him.

Praying and interceding for other people, not only in terms of the concerns around Coronavirus, but taking time to think and pray about and appeal to God for the many people and situations that we so often don’t think about because we are ‘too busy’ with getting through the day to day things of life, and ‘cares of this world’. Focused prayer for people’s salvation and also for the needs of those who are caring for others, making decisions, ‘on the front line’ in some way, or who are ill and suffering or in need. Finding ways to advocate for those who suffer from injustice and abuse whether through prayer and practical means.

Reaching out to other people, and seeking to be a ‘good steward’ of the resources He has given me, and making a positive impact on the world, whether by blogging, keeping in touch with and encouraging people over the phone or email or other means.

Taking time for self development, nurturing myself and allowing God to continue to heal me, and also doing my part in looking after my emotional and mental health.

Working hard, obviously, if working from home did become a reality, and doing my duties to the best of my ability.

Taking time to continue writing my novel.

Read the books that have been waiting for me to get to them! 🙂

Exercise and healthy living.

Take time to be grateful, mindful and thankful for all of the blessings I do have in my life.

Finding ways to encourage and pray for other people, and to offer help where it is safe and wise and healthy to do so.

Home organisation and decluttering.

Arts and crafts projects, adult colouring in, continuing to learn to draw.

Music, playing worship on my violin.

Photography projects – finally compiling my photography work into one place.

Continue work on my blog to help bullied children (which I haven’t been able to while maintaining a daily routine of going to work, etc.).

Having pamper days for self care and looking after my body as well as my mind.

Learning new skills and online learning.

Tidying out my spare room!

Cosying up like at Christmas time and watching some nice films or box sets.

Live a ‘hygge life’.

Encouraging others and being kind!

 

So, what about you? What positives can you glean from this situation, and how would you, or how are you spending your time ‘away from it all’?

What are your struggles, and what are the things you have learned or that you enjoy that you can share that will benefit others reading this?

Let’s stick together and become stronger in the midst of all of this uncertainty, and bring out the best in each other as we make our way through this uncertain world.

I am thankful that my faith, certainty and hope is in the unchanging, solid rock of Jesus Christ, the source of life and pure love.

Take care and stay well, healthy, and safe, everyone. x

lemon isolated on white background
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