In my workroom I have a wall art saying ‘we can’t control the wind, but we can control the sails’. What does that even mean? Well, when at sea the wind will blow as and when it wants, and in any direction, and there is nothing we can do about it. If we want to be headed in a different direction from where we are headed at that moment, we must move our sails to catch the wind differently and let it take us to where we want to go.
This is pretty much what is happening for us right now. Imagine this as a boat race: a game. There are two players: the virus(wind) and human behaviour (sails)
The wind has changed direction, sharply and aggressively, and we are working on adjusting the sails. The problem is, just as we think we have it sorted, and we’re headed in the right direction… the wind changes again.
In the last week we have seen unbelievable adjustments to normal life: no exams, no school, work from home, stay home, and these are just to mention a few of the changes being made. We simply are not being given time to adjust our sails. The sails are taking a bit of a battering, but if we keep listening to the captain, and adjusting our sails, just like any good sailor will tell you, they will win the race and the wind will die down. Calm seas and normality will return.
How long will the storm last?
Nobody knows. And we don’t have control over that. Just like we don’t have control over the wind. We do have control over the sails – how we behave – and this is what I’d like to help you with. There are practical things we can be doing, and there are emotional things we can do to.
On a practical level, it is important to maintain a routine.
Decide the 4 main things you want to get done in a day. For me, that would be to get up by 8:00am, complete my mindfulness activity, complete my work, switch off from social media by 8:00pm for a book/film/relaxation. Once you know what 4 elements make up your day, stick to it.
You’re not at school so now you can study at your pace. Study the subjects you most enjoy or will be studying in September. Dive into your hobby and read auto/biographies. Explore the world that comes out of your hobby. If your hobby is football, for example, learn about where it began, key players, the difference between premier league and local league. Look at the finances of both: where clubs get their money? How do they spend their money? Where do they invest their money? Are their investments ecological? Moral? How do the clubs contribute to their local areas/the environment? Was it different in the past? What could they do better? Think about the pitches: astroturf or grass? Environmental costs or each. Financial costs of each. This is one example and as you can see, you can study maths, science, social, environmental issues all from your one hobby! Make learning fun. It actually is fun. And all learning is good learning.
Set a study timetable, as well as a daily one. This will help you to stay focused. Only study for up to 45 minutes at a time. At the end of each study session, stand up and go to the kitchen for a drink. 5 minutes between 2 sessions and then a longer one after the 3rd. For the longer break, go into the garden or put your head out of the window if you don’t have a garden. Look at what’s around you and breathe the wonderfully fresh air, pollution-free! Make one of the longer breaks a lunch break and talk with your family, asking them how their morning has been. This is new for them too.
Set a designated study space which preferably is not your bedroom. Bedrooms are for sleeping, work activity should be done elsewhere in the house. I know this isn’t always possible, but please do your best to find a corner in another room to work from. If it has to be your bedroom then ensure it is a corner of the room and not the whole room. This helps separate work from rest.
Whilst you may want to leave healthy food and eat all the snacks, please don’t! firstly, they are for everyone, and secondly, you will regret it. Sugary starchy foods are great, in moderation. Lots of them and you’ll feel tired and moody. Do research into the effects of sugar on the body, compared to vegetables and fruits – you’ll be amazed!
Whether you are in a flat or a house, there is always space to exercise. Set up an exercise routine, just as you would have been doing at school. Aim for an hour a day, and this can be done as a family, or in a small group online. How about setting up a group skype with your friends to all work out in your own living rooms together? There are lots of online workout routines you can use to workout with. Exercise raises endorphins, all of the feel-good ingredients in our bodies. You will feel so much more energised and happier once you’ve had your workout.
Maintain a healthy sleeping routine. Our bodies heal when we sleep. They restore. It’s a little bit like having night cleaners come in at the end of the day to clean up the office and classrooms. When we sleep, we have cleaner cells running around our bodies, putting everything back in order ready for the next day. Get a good sleep routine in place to ensure a good night’s sleep to maintain a strong and healthy immune system.
Now for the mental health.
By maintaining a healthy approach to your work, you will maintain strong mental health. Let’s not underestimate the effect of social isolation though, and living with your family 24/7.
Let’s be honest, when did any of us last spend this much time together? Christmas Day? Holidays maybe? This is a BIG ask for anyone. It really is important to get prepared for this. We’ve set up a healthy work-life balance. Now we need to set up a social one.
- Seeing your friends
This can still happen, on Skype or video gaming – though you want to keep the hours down on the latter. Why not set up a skype call with your friends? You could do this weekly for a chat and catch up. Set up the workout routines with your friends and do them together online.
Talk to them regularly on group chats/video calls or texts. Stay in touch.
- Being with family 24/7
This is a big ask for all of us so now is the time to BE KIND! What an opportunity you have to spend time together and learn more about each other than you could ever have done before. This is a great opportunity, so be sure to stay focused on the gift and ignore the grimaces. Yes, you’ll annoy each other and you’ll also make each other laugh. Really focus on the good in each individual, and remember you are all individuals. It’s going to take some juggling to ensure every family member’s needs are met. Be the one to ask the question: would you like a cup of tea? Can I do anything for you? What did you learn today? All little touches that will help others know that you care.
If you or a family member wants to play, then play with them. If you or they want to cry, cry with them and hold them. If you or they want to crazily laugh, then laugh with them. Listen, really listen to what they have to say. Learn to love and understand each other in a very special and unique way.
One of my favourite things is to dance. Dance like no one is watching. And with everyone in their homes, no one is watching! Turn on the music, at a respectful level, and dance. Great exercise and great fun. Great for energy levels and lifting the spirits. Great for the family to do together. Great for physical and mental health.
Remember, we are all in this together, so stay calm and discuss anything that is frustrating you. It’s good to talk.
Stay healthy. Stay safe. Stay home.