How to Thrive in Lockdown

“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us”

E. M. Forster

I watched the car chase playing out on the television screen, without really being aware or caring about the outcome, my mind had drifted to a calmer place only to be brought back to the current moment with a bang.

The car being chased careered off the road and rolled down a hill, before crashing at the bottom.  The car looked like it would have to be written off, but the driver emerged unscathed.  Impossible, I thought making a judgement based on my own reality of life, however, my grandson caught up in his computer game was able to ignore the minor problem of a serious car crash from his knowledge of life, his driver ran off to find another car.

“Does this mean you have lost the game?” I enquired, more out of politeness than curiosity

“No, don’t worry, I was in survival mode” he replied and carried on with the game.

“Aren’t we all” I found myself replying

In this year of Lockdowns and semi-lockdowns, working from home, lost jobs, and broken relationships how many of us have switched to survival mode. 

Usually, when we go into survival mode we do it alone or with our closest friends and family.  The loss of a loved one, a broken romance, the loss of a job, a serious illness happens to a loved one or yourself and you dig deep within to find a way of coping and moving forward in life, finding a way to come out the other side and create a new life where you can switch back to living mode.  Carefully placing one foot in front of the other until you can see light begin to emerge slowly from the dark.   

Now we have a whole country in survival mode, and as we have to social distance we are unable to come together with family and friends to help guide us through, we are left to our own inner strength to come out the other side safely. 

How, then to we shake ourselves out of survival mode and move into thriving mode.  How can we make the most of this time, after all it is a long time to spend waiting for lockdown to pass.  It is moment after moment of your precious life that is spent waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel.

  1. Change your Thinking around Lockdown

I no longer use the word lockdown; I do not think about it anymore.  I now see myself as hibernating in a long winter waiting for spring to emerge from the coldest season of the year.  There are things that I used to do that I cannot do at the moment until the country opens up again, but there are so many things that I can do.

It is like being on a diet, if we stop thinking about the foods that we cannot eat, and focus on those we can, it all becomes so much easier. 

Each time you think of something you cannot do, let it go, and replace it with something you can.

So, you cannot go to gym, but you can still exercise.

You cannot go to a restaurant, but you can learn to cook and make a lovely meal for yourself and whoever you have in your social bubble.  If you are living on your own with no visitors then make something to give away to a neighbour or a friend.

You cannot meet family, friends, grandchildren but you can use the telephone, Skype, and Zoom

You cannot go to the cinema, but you can find something good to watch on television.  Nothing better that a good box set to relax and pass the long evenings

2. Improve you Mood by Changing your Thoughts

Changing your thoughts to make you feel better is not hard to do.  Thinking of a happy event in your life can immediately transport you back in time and allow you to feel better, it may even make you smile and release some nice feel-good hormones to lift your mood.

Alternatively, if you think of something bad that has happened in your past, immediately you will start to feel down which can quickly slip into sadness, regret and disappointment.

We need to change our thoughts so that we can thrive every day and not just for a moment. 

Start by recognising where your thoughts are going, if you find yourself drifting off into the past then stop, pop the thought in an imaginary little basket attached to a hot air balloon floating in front of you and let it fly away and watch it as it disappears from sight.

If your thoughts drift to worries about the future then do the same with those.  Put them in the basket and watch them fly away.

It all starts by noticing your thoughts, once you notice them, then you can wave them goodbye.  The only thought you need are the ones that keep you in the present moment doing something that you enjoy doing.

Our lives are made of moments, one after the other and each moment should be enjoyed, doing something that makes you feel good.  Even now in lockdown and enforced parting from friends and family you can find enjoyment in everything you do.

“We do not remember days, we remember moments”

Cesare Pavese

Do you really want to throw this year away, sitting and waiting until you can get out again, waiting until life returns to ‘normal’.   It is a lot of moments to put in a litter bin.  If we throw away these moments they are gone for good.  We cannot retrieve them later from a store cupboard full of lost moments.  We cannot add them on to the end of our life like a mortgage holiday added onto the end of the loan term.  Once they are gone, they are gone for good. 

3. Do, Do, Do

If you cannot do what you want then why not find something else to do.  It is too easy to go into a downward spiral of inactivity, each day doing a little less until you lose motivation to do anything at all.  Do you stay still waiting for external factors to change or do you decide to put yourselves in the driving seat of life. 

If you want to change your live you need to move, both physically and mentally.  Drop all negative thoughts and find something to do that you enjoy. 

Do not sit around waiting for life to change, be the person that makes change happen.  It is your life, and you are in charge. Only you can take back control.  What if lockdown lasts another year? What if there is another virus and we have to lock down again?

4. Keep in touch with family and friends

Telephone, skype, text, e-mail or zoom.  Go through your list of contacts and send everyone a message.  So, what if they do not reply? Remember everyone is struggling at this time and if they are not in a good place they may not be in a frame of mind to reach out.  So, just send another message letting them know that you are there for them if they would like to get in touch.  Do not go in a huff, it is never about you – it is always about them.

5. Make a promise to yourself that every moment will be magical

Make a promise to yourself that you will treat every moment of your life as a magical moment, and not waste another second doing things that you do not make you feel an inner peace and tranquillity.  We do not need to be telling jokes and be laughing, we just need to know that inside ourselves we are ok in this moment.

If you are unsure if you are content in the moment, watch the clock, if time passes too quickly then you are doing alright.  If you are clock watching every minute then it is time to change what you are doing.

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment”

Buddha

You might also like: Coping with Loneliness in Lockdown

Categories Minfullness, stress and anxiety

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