Let’s be honest.
There was something novel and intriguing about lockdown 1.
Not rushing out of the house to work.
Leisurely breakfasts, brunches and lunches that consisted of things you actually wanted to eat, like Dairy Milk or a giant mixing bowl of crunchy nut cornflakes.
Taking meetings whilst in your PJ's and slippers.
And the mandatory family zoom quiz every Friday.
For a troublesome time there were elements of fun.
This time...not so much
The sense of enforced restriction is far more palpable.
Fears about job insecurity and health anxiety now have 6 months worth of evidence to feed off.
And there’s only so many questions about Elton John’s real name that I can handle.
This can lead to worrisome behaviour for me (Clarke).
Even with the children jumping all over my head, there’s a distinct lack of desire or motivation to even get out of bed, never mind shower, get dressed and engage with the day.
It can become a deep rut very quickly.
It is now that I have to go back to basics.
These feelings are so similar to when I have a depressive episode, I have to consciously remind myself that THIS ISN’T ONE!
This is a set of circumstances that has zapped my innate desire and motivation.
So I have to counter it.
Cajoling myself into action isn’t easy, but it can be done.
When I came out of psychiatric hospital Carrie and I had to make a list of 3 goals for me to complete each day.
As you can imagine, I was still very poorly then so the first set were as basic as:
Get out of bed before midday
Shower and brush my teeth
Eat a proper meal
It wasn’t “failure” if I didn’t do all three, yet it made a huge difference having a target for my day and it lifted my self worth as I ticked each one off the list.
I am not poorly right now, but my motivation is low.
There are many little things around the house that contribute to a downward curve.
Those dried leaves on the doormat.
That coffee mug stain on the window sill.
That pile of clothes that hasn’t been put away.
That mark on the wall behind the bin.
That wrapper peeking out from under the sofa.
Nominal things, but when I am already thinking negatively, these things scream at me every time I see them:
“Look at how messy you are. Look at how lazy you are, that’s so disgusting”
Negative little hooks that destroy self esteem by a thousand cuts.
Well, like I said, I have to counter this.
So I make a list.
It’s not as basic as post-hospital times, yet it is still very simple and attainable.
Today my list says:
Write a piece for the website
Shave my head
Cook the family dinner
Looks simple right?
Notice how one is solely for me - I shave my head, I’ve taken time to look after me and my appearance, I “feel” better.
One is for my family. Cooking dinner makes me feel like I’ve contributed to the day of those who matter most to me. I will be “love in action”
One is for others. Writing a piece for the website will hopefully contribute to helping someone else today, paying forward the blessings that I have received myself.
It goes deeper.
One is time specific - I must do 'x' at this time - dinner at dinner time!
One is time sensitive - I must do 'y' before this time - we always aim to update the website by midday
One is time-free - I can shave my head at any time that is convenient for my day
Shaping a list like this gives me focus for the day, throughout the day, in a way that helps me, my loved ones and others.
Finally, I am always amazed at how starting with little things develops into finishing many things!
As I’m going about my day, if I see something that warrants attention (most likely a coffee mug stain and I am usually the culprit) I take the approach of “just do it NOW”
Getting things done as I see them, especially these minor hooks that pepper my brain throughout the day, results in a tidier home, a tidier mind and an overwhelming sense of productivity in my day, with the bonus of more free time tomorrow to address the bigger tasks x