I have lockdown lurgy

The peg in the lawn

I am finding that the novelty of lockdown has worn thin, and frankly, I’m struggling with it all. At first, the lockdown was a new challenge to meet. Responding to these first adjustments to my life gave me something new to conquer. Now, it’s week six, and I am, well, wearied by it all. I feel like I am running a marathon with the finishing line nowhere in sight. I need a fresh injection of hope to keep sane.

I have resorted to staring at the infographic from my last post to keep me on the white line of life. And another thing; I’m watching my self-talk – it drifts off centre. When my self-talk drifts, my mental health slides with it disabling me further. A normally well-ordered life begins a downward plunge into chaos. On these days sucess is making it to bed time.

Arresting my mental decline becomes my new goal. And I have been thinking about my positive routines. I need to treasure them and keep them well maintained.

It sounds counter-intuitive, but once I appreciate my daily routines, seeing them as a positive, I can exercise gratitude for them. Showing appreciation for my habits is a skill that I have developed in later life. I now find that I like my routines; they are my friends. I see them as boundary markers: inside them, I am free to express myself in an endless variety of ways. But, if I treat them casually, then orange lights start to light on my emotional dashboard. These helpful habits provide me with boundary markers that help me stay in the safe zone. And, in the safe zone, I feel more in control – a little like the Ten Commandments really.

New routines may help us to cope with change and helps us form healthy habits, and in turn, this reduces our stress levels.

  1. ROUTINE IS AN ANCHOR
    Routine acts like an anchor in our souls. For instance, whatever takes place during our day, knowing that our evening meal is around 18:00, and knowing I go to bed around 22:00, can be a real comfort. The certainty of routine gives us a framework for the day. Frameworks hold me.
  2. ROUTINE IS FREEDOM
    That framework provides me with plenty of room to do all the other things I have planned to do. So, rather than a restriction, my routines are a means of regulating my life. A regulated life is a healthy life.
  3. ROUTINE REDUCES STRESS
    I find that routine can carry me when I need some support to keep going. If my habits are engrained, then they can help to transport me through a tough time, reducing the stress of blocked goals or ineffectiveness. A blocked goal is frustration. Frustration is stress.
  4. ROUTINE BUILDS POSITIVE HABITS
    There are times when our life needs positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is vital to keep me steady. I so easily slide away from my ideals or healthy habits; so they bring me back by exercising a mid-course correction. Positive habits steer me away from danger lines.
  5. ROUTINE PUTS A PEG IN MY LAWN
    If I put a “peg in my lawn” whenever I look out of the window, I will see the peg. Putting a “peg in my lawn” is a metaphor that I have used throughout my professional life, and now that I am retired, I find it just as useful to shape my present and to plan my future. I need pegs.

Can you help?

I’m collecting stories:
I am interested to hear how you are coping with the lockdown. How has it affected your mental and emotional health, and what strategies have you put in place to help?

Please tell me about your routines. Have they changed since our lockdown?

When did you last venture out?

Drop me a line, and your comments could form the foundation of another post. Thank you so much.

10 Comments

  1. Having had M.E for the last 30 years and living alone, life didn’t seem to change much when lockdown was announced, being semi-housebound. The first thing I noticed was that I was released from the balancing act that had been part of my life for so long: allowing myself sufficient recovery time after one activity before embarking on the next one, and rarely getting it right. There is no pressure from myself, or expectations from other people as all regular activities are cancelled. On the other side of the coin, I felt bombarded and stressed out by the sheer number of communications arriving via the Internet on things to do whilst stuck at home and ways of coping with the situation. Like you, Russ, I had to limit my involvement with Zoom meetings as it all got too much. However, technology has been used in incredible ways in order that we can stay connected, and I know that a lot of normally isolated chronically sick and disabled people will be hoping that these new ways of staying in touch will continue after the crisis has passed.
    Shopping for me has been a necessary evil. More stressful and tiring than it was before with the queues and risks, I’m always glad to get back to the haven of my home.

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    1. Julie,
      Thank you for your story and your insights about how you manage your health challenges. I appreciate you making the effort to respond, especially for someone with energy restrictions. Your comment about Zoom meetings and the ilk are especially insightful to me.
      Russ

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  2. Hi Russ Seven weeks ago I took the decision to lock down with Adrienne. and I havent been any further than my front drive. I dont really have a structure to my daily life other than the meals I prepare three times a day. I just take each day as it comes. I avidly hang on the news much to Adriennes annoyance, the mounting covid.19 loss of life saddens me and Im praying daily for a vaccine to be found. Having been fit and active for most of my life I find it irksome that I have reached an age that makes me more vulnerable to this virus. than a lot of my younger friends and family. My peg in the garden is Adrienne , having gone through the health scare she had and nearly losing her on more than one occasion this Covid scares me as I think if I was to bring it into our home it would prove to be too much for Adrienne to overcome That thought keeps me focused on keeping us safe to such a degree, I dont feel locked in and secluded from the world I see it as a way to fight back . Covid doesnt care who it uses to walk the streets with to go shopping with or to go to work with The safe way to stop from catching it is self isolation and at this moment in time i think if another six weeks isolation is needed I can handle it… how I end up feeling after another six weeks remains to be seen and written about. Regards from your Locked down neighbour

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    1. Mick,
      Thank you so much for sharing your story with me. You raise some interesting points about a re-focussed life in these times. It is easy to overdose on the news and for our own sanity, we at least need a break from it from time-to-time. I applaud the way in which you have selflessly put your wife’s needs centre stage, especially after all the trials and tribulation that cancer has brought to Adrienne and you as officer in charge of her care. You have a sharp focus on your peg in the lawn. You are much-loved neighbours to Maggie and myself, and we pray for you regularly.
      Russ

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  3. A well written and honest assessment of the effects on mental and physical well being during this season of lockdown Russ. Yes where would we be without routine? Routine sounds such a bore. However it is a solid foundation when most of our normal has been put on hold for who knows how long?

    After 6 weeks without physical contact with my friends and family who help to boost my energy levels I am feeling tired despite not doing much. I feel guilty that I should be doing more but appreciate the time to do less as the capacity to do has diminished. I miss space to be alone and quiet without constant interruption and yet also long for time with friends to chat, plan and laugh over a proper coffee!

    Hopefully we are through the worst and can get our second wind to press on to whatever is ahead. One thing I hope. Is that we will all learn to appreciate the days we have and the people that are with us on our journey.

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  4. I do agree Russ. I am finding it all very tedious now! I have all the normal things to do. Like housework, cooking etc. Even that is taxing as I don’t do my own shopping at the mo. Not been into the supermarket for over 6 weeks!!!
    Can’t wait to do that again. My daughter in law is insisting on doing it. So yes I could find extra things to sort out, but find it really hard to get motivated. Doing puzzles but run out of those ,so re doing. Pathetic really because we are so fortunate really. I do walk most days for about 3/4 hour. Which is more than normal!!!. So, yes I can’t wait for things to improve. Just have to remember it’s for everyone’s own good. So just keep on keeping on. We have so much to be thankful for. Bless you Russ xxxxxxx

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    1. Perkypig,
      Thank you so much for your reply. I agree walking is very beneficial and I get out most days to a beautiful local park. Despite this, I miss shopping, going for a coffee or anywhere else where I can meet my friends. I think I am basically deprived of human contact. Zoom and its friends are helpful, but recently I am finding that I am Zoomed out. I have reduced my Zoom meetings. I think I am becoming more selective about how many video calls I make in a day. And I do not see an early end to some form of social distancing. I also group meetings, such as my monthly local family history meeting.
      Russ

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  5. Taking a walk is essential for me! Many people I know actively avoid reading or watching the news citing mental health reasons, but personally I find it more helpful to be well informed, and to find good news stories.

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    1. Adam,
      Nice to hear from you. I agree about walking and the sunny weather is certainly a help. Good news stories are essential too. Thank you so much for responding.
      Russ

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