cupcake-279523_960_720

cupcake-279523_960_720

Today marks 28 days since I started working from home and 21 days since my children have been home from school. To sum up the ups and downs of the past week, it’s been something like this:

Week 1: Checking the news about 4 hours a day, lots of meetings about managing the pandemic, dealing with PPE and COVID swabs at the clinic, lots of anxiety, going into a bit of a rage every time there is a press conference and schools STILL aren’t closed.

Week 2: School is finally closed. Reading the news 3 hours a day, rest of the day seems to be spent figuring out the school schedule, checking second grade maths and English, and wondering why teachers prescribe activities that require scissors, or “play this fun game with an adult”.

Week 3: Everything is changing, every single day. Overwhelmed. Checking news 2.5 hours each day. School schedule is a little easier but still feel like head is about to explode for at least 8 hours each day.

Week 4: Checking news 1.5 hrs a day. School holidays finally begin on Friday. Head begins to clear. Finally! Spend the weekend sitting in the sun, reading, drinking tea, and napping.

The Easter weekend has been a lifesaver and has given me enough space to think beyond the next 24 hours. I hope it has been the same for you. This break has got me thinking to a very important time: the end of lockdown, whenever that might be. Is it 3 or 6 months? or 12 months? Whenever it is, I’m now ready for the marathon of being at home. And I’m finally ready to go beyond survival mode. (If you’re not ready yet, don’t panic. You will emerge once your basic needs are met and you feel safe.)

This week I am thinking about the person that emerges at the end of lockdown. What will she have learned? What’s her health like? Her mind? Is she at peace? Has she made changes? Will she go back to where she was before?

I call this person Future Me. (Or maybe Post Lockdown Me). I care about this person very much. She’s counting on me right now.

I don’t think Future Me wants to go back to Previous Me life. Previous Me was always very stressed, juggling too many balls, taking work phone calls while driving children from birthday parties to swimming classes, sending emails at pickup time, always tired. Previous Me had staff who said “I wish you would take more time for yourself” and “I wish you wouldn’t take on so much“. Previous Me outsourced like a boss, but the end result of all this carefully orchestrated planning creates an illusion that Previous Me could do anything. Previous Me got to Wednesday and felt like she had nothing left to give.

I want Future Me to be happy, healthy, and to feel like she has the capacity to give to others without suffering some kind of minor collapse. Future Me’s cup needs to be filled. I’m starting with staying physically healthy. Being in lockdown means that our exercise habits have to change to adapt, and yet, I am finding that not commuting buys me more time. I’m focussing on strength training because that can be done indoors, for free, with my existing kettlebells. (I love kettlebells!) My go-to Youtube channel for kettlebell and other workouts is Bodyfit By Amy. I am sure you have your favourites, but if you don’t, give Amy’s a go!

Fun fact: did you know that strength training is recommended twice a week in our national physical activity guidelines, and builds muscle (therefore boosting your metabolism)? 

Future Me also needs Present Me to eat well and to not succumb to too much stress baking. Baking has been a coping mechanism of mine ever since I was in high school. Sadly, I cannot bring the leftovers to work now, and so to keep Future Me happy, I’ll have to keep an eye on how many funfetti cakes I end up making with the children. I also did the CSIRO Healthy Diet score to see what I needed to change in my diet. I’ve been recommended to have more low-fat dairy and fruit, and so I’m focussing on these for Future Me. I know Future Me will be thankful, particularly with reducing the risk of nasty things like osteoporosis.

So when you’re ready to come out of survival, take some time to think about Future You. Not only does it orient us beyond Netflix and donuts (which only benefit Present You), it gives us hope, and extends our vision beyond what we need to get through the next day, or week. Of course, if you can’t do this yet, it means that the very thing you should be doing is just getting through today. That’s absolutely ok. I’m not experiencing the intense stresses that many are facing. I still have a job, I have company at home, everyone is well.

But if you can, just picture the Future You in your mind, and do what it takes to look after him or her. I have a hunch you won’t regret it. For me, I’ll continue to enjoy the stress relieving benefits of baking, but only on special occasions.

X

Share
curtains-1854110_960_720
,

March 11. That was the last time I was on the outside. For work, anyway. It seems so long ago now, a world away. I had just finished chairing a symposium of >100 people – an unimaginable number of people! It seemed like we were using draconian restrictions for our attendees at the time. We told people who had been overseas anywhere in the last 14 days to stay away. So we lost a proportion of attendees. This is me, having a glass of bubbles after finishing my 12 hour day.

IMG_9407

The next day, COVID-19 was upgraded to a pandemic. The following Monday, I worked from home and attended emergency meetings about the pandemic. The rest is history as they say.

Like all of us, I’ve been through the rollercoaster (and still am) of emotions, sometimes on a hourly basis. I’ve watched our nations being ravaged by the virus and by the economic and social devastation. And I’ve been bombarded on every level by new information – the news, work emails, the enormous changes in general practice (hello telehealth!), school at home, yoga at home, exercise at home, home retreats, Zoom house parties, dance parties at home. Learn a language, embrace your vulnerability, reflect, spend time with your children, connect with every single person you know because social connection is so important, grow an orchard, teach your children amazing science facts, watch a million documentaries, sign up for a yoga retreat, and don’t forget to do a cute dance routine with your family and post it on social media. Use this time to grow. I just want to use this time to nap. 

All along, we lose so many parts of what we hold dear: Time spent outdoors. Having a job. Going to the supermarket without worrying about catching a deadly disease. We’ve had to let go of so many things. Many of you hold very heavy burdens – national death tolls in the thousands. Losing a livelihood. Losing a loved one, or two, or three. Not being able to say goodbye. Being afraid to go to work. Abuse at work. Abuse at home. Being alone, all alone. My heart breaks every single day to think of the suffering.

The rest of us, all of us, are likewise struggling. School at home plus trying to keep a full-time job? That’s like asking me to fly to the moon!

Bruce_McCandless_II_during_EVA_in_1984
Working parents right now.

I don’t have all the answers. I am still working things out every day. I just wanted to say I’m thinking of all of you. Whatever you’re holding, whatever you’re going through right now, I can’t pretend that it’s also my lived experience because we are all unique. But I know that everyone is scared. At least a little bit. At least some of the time. I’ve been scared too. Especially scared to go to the clinic.

I invite you to be kind to yourselves. I’m trying my hardest. Look out for the little things, which are really the big things. Don’t worry about the children’s haphazard “schooling” but rejoice in the fact that they’re home, safe, well, boisterous and resilient, and have food in their tummies and sleep soundly at night safely at home. And at the end of each day, no matter how the day has gone, congratulate yourself on reaching your personal best in number of days lived on Earth. Still here. Still showing up. Ask yourself what you need right now. Is it a cookie? is it a cup of tea? is it a nap? (My answer is always a nap). Do you actually need some time alone – strange concept in this day and age – but has the constant Zooming, Whatsapping, instant messaging, binging and bonging, has that been too much for you? Do you need to go outside and see the sun to remind yourself that the Earth still turns on its axis, the birds still sing in the mornings and fly home in the evenings, the dragonflies are out in force and bumblebees are returning to our gardens? Or do you need to cry? Ask yourself these questions as though you’re caring for a very  very dear friend. We’re in the survival phase. It’s ok to feel this way. You’re doing AWESOME.

Don’t forget that you can still access support for how you’re feeling – from your GP through the amazing world of telehealth, from your counsellor or psychologist, from the helplines that volunteers are manning – Lifeline, Beyond Blue, or your chosen organisation. And if the only thing that makes you laugh is a Youtube video of babies farting, then so be it. (This may or may not be a true story). Embrace the joy in the small things.

I’ll send you a letter regularly from now on. I didn’t want to do it too early into the pandemic as there has been so much noise. But I’ve been writing daily Wellbeing tips for work, and everyone seems to like them. If there is anything you would like me to say, please send me an email on drcarolynee@gmail.com or comment below.

Stay safe everyone.

X

 

 

 

Share