Get Out of Bed: Step One
A thousand years ago I lived in Tahiti for 3 years. My husband had been transferred there and I had been promised a work visa, having come from a high powered hotel job.
When we arrived, that offer was rescinded. And so I found myself unable to work. I thought I would go crazy. For the first 6 months we were living in a hotel so I couldn't even cook or clean. It was pre Internet. For some of you, that’s a fate worse than death.
I've had many conversations these last few weeks and a common theme amongst those who have been stood down has been the lament of nothing to do. This is a slippery slope my friends, leading to lying listlessly under the blankets and drinking at lunch time.
Right now many of you may be lucky enough to have children on school holidays. Yes, I said lucky. At least this means no more stress of home schooling for a little bit. You can enjoy family time and even if that means squabbles and whinging, I'm betting you'll look back on this in years to come and treasure the time you had. Trust me.
But there are those on their own who are simply at a loss. For many of us, appreciation from others for our work is what drives our day. From helping, being part of a bigger picture and sharing goals. Without that we can feel isolated and lost. Their work has been taken away. Their friends and family are accessible only through a screen. If we have no purpose, no reason to get out of bed, it’s easy to feel that life is meaningless.
I'm not talking here about the long term meaningful purpose that fuels our passion to make a difference. If we are caught up in that big old question, you will never get out from under the blankets. It’s about baby steps.
Whenever I find myself overwhelmed in life, for whatever reason, I take some deep breaths, make a cup of tea and start a list of baby steps. Sometimes this can seem ridiculous, but let me assure you that there is nothing ridiculous about saving your sanity. In Tahiti, I knew I’d reached a special place when doing my own mani-pedi became the highlight of my day. But that didn’t matter. The fact there was a highlight meant I was up and at ‘em.
I’ve heard myself advising others to learn a language, start a course, write a blog or build a website and I realise after a few weeks in lockdown this lofty advice is not for everyone. If you are really struggling with overwhelm, start with baby steps. (Mo Fox has a great piece on overwhelm. Written way before COVID-19, the advice is super applicable right now).
Write a list of small things which are achievable each day. Even just one thing. Paint your nails. Walk to the shops. Clean out the pantry. Attend one of the many webinars available. Watch two episodes of a series. Call one person. Human contact is critical right now and it is well documented how listening and helping others can increase your own emotional health.
Don’t try and fill the day. Just have a little list. Each day will build mental strength and ultimately purpose.
I know that isolation in Tahiti sounds contradictory. But the surroundings don’t matter if you are lonely and lost. Baby steps.
Beyond Blue has set up a help line to manage mental health during the corona virus. Don't hesitate to call.