During lockdown a lot of people have found themselves doing things to the extreme. For some that has meant excessive cleaning and tidying, for others it has meant excessive exercise. For some it has involved increased levels of alcohol and food. While some have found themselves monitoring the amount the eat and drink – everything has become restricted. Some people have thrown themselves into work or new projects – working all day and all night long to achieve the goals and targets they set themselves. While others have gone the other way – feeling demotivated and lost. They have found themselves in bed more then they have ever been. On the sofa more then they would like to be. Or watching TV more then they are actually enjoying.
For everyone it has been so different – but when you look at everything above – its all so extreme.
There are of course some people that have perhaps managed to strike some kind of balance during this uncertain time. But for many – anxiety has been high. A sense of feeling overwhelmed has sunk in. And a huge loss of control has made people look for things to take control of. While some people are able to self-regulate and to process their emotions – many struggle to do this. Especially at such a difficult and challenging time. And while some people may be able to do things and not take them to the extreme – a lot of people do end up becoming obsessional and at times addicted.
This is particularly true for those that have suffered with any mental health issues in the past. Any addictions or addictive relationships – they will now manifest in quite a significant way. People that have recovered from an eating disorder may start to relapse. Those that have given up smoking or daily drinking may find their way back to these self-destructive behaviours. Work addicts, exercise addicts – you name it – now is a very vulnerable time.
It is now – more than ever – that everyone could benefit from restoring some kind of balance.
What does a healthy balance look like ??
• Sleeping – getting to bed at a decent and regular time. Getting up at regular time. These times might not be exactly as they were prior to lockdown. But we all need to aim for 8 hours sleep. It isn’t easy when the mind is anxious or full – a journal by the bed can help. A hot bath before bed can help. But definitely aim for some regularity with your sleep routine.
• Routine – it might not be exactly the same in lockdown – but creating one is so important. It restores clarity and calm. Think about your week. How do you want it to be? How do you want it to look ? Design a routine that works for you. And most importantly includes time for you.
• Exercise – yes daily walks/fresh air is so important. But daily extreme works out? That is excessive. 3 or 4 times a week – that is balanced. The key is also variety – not repeating the same thing all the time.
• Food – moderation, moderation, moderation. We can’t only live off apples. But nor can we only live off pizza. Variety and balance is so important. Aim for 3 meals a day. 3 snacks a day. Incorporate all food groups.
• Alcohol – moderation, moderation, moderation. It is not healthy to drink every day – but currently many people are. Perhaps now is the time to limit that amount – 2 or 3 drinks is more then enough. Perhaps for you its about taking a couple or few days off each week. Decide what works best for you – but avoid drinking to excess.
• Socialising – now we are allowed to see people from a distance. The temptation is to get out all week catching up. Be careful not to overload yourself. Think of your energy levels. Make time to see friends and family. But make time to slow down too.
• Down time – often the result of being at home makes people over look the importance of creating space for down time. But its just as important now – as ever. Work out what that means for you – is it a bath? Is it yoga? Is it reading? A film? However it looks? However you do it. Make some valuable time and space for yourself.
• Work – again – its about balance. Working from home can lead people to end up spending a lot more time in front of their screen. The temptation is to work more and more and to lose sight of your own time. Try as much as you can to stick to your usual working hours. Whatever they may look like.
• Family life – again quality family time can slip. Life can become all consuming at times. And the thoughts around what ‘needs to be done’ – can take over. Make time for your loved ones. Invest in the things that you enjoy doing together. Make space for being a family.
Fundamentally the most important thing to remember is that this isn’t about perfection or getting things totally right. Its about taking stock. Stepping back and reflecting. Press pause. What works for you? What doesn’t? What leaves you feeling calm and what leaves you feeling more stressed ? Look at your week. How is your balance ? Maybe its time to restore it?