Over the past week, The Wellbeing Hive has been giving a daily tip to living in lockdown and managing all that comes with that.
But the TRAIN model is actually useful for a wide variety of challenging situations – and certainly is worth revisiting again as we find ourselves as a community in an extended lockdown and a period of uncertainty as we get used to watching the daily numbers again, and wearing masks wherever we go.
Let’s go over again what each of the letters stand for.
T – Take a Moment
When circumstances threaten to overwhelm us, we must always give ourselves permission to take a moment – in whatever way we need it.
Sometimes it is reminding ourselves to take a deep breath before reacting… a moment to perhaps put things into perspective and coach ourselves into a less emotional or more considered response.
Sometimes the moment we need is one of self-care – of helping ourselves be in a position to help others. Remember the life jacket metaphor – you must put on your own life jacket in order to help others.
It could also be a mindful moment – a chance to reset with a meditation for example that closes off the busy-ness of the world and allows you to centre. Even a simple five-minute meditation can do wonders to a busy mind – this one has been on my email signature throughout May.
What sort of moment do you need to take right now?
R – Routine
We often forget that routine can be a source of comfort. That when life feels upside down, repeating the same activities and having something you can be sure of can reinforce a sense of certainty in an uncertain world. Although online learning was new for both teachers and students in 2020, it did provide us with a routine (even if this was a new one). People who lost jobs were left without any sense of the familiar on a day-to-day basis, and this definitely contributed to a sense of struggle, as did the shutting down of gyms and other places that form part of regular routines. People felt set adrift.
While a change of routine can often be as good as a holiday, in times of challenge embrace routine. Keep what you can – like getting up at a certain time for school or talking the dog for a walk daily. You might vary the times, but remind young people especially that some elements of routine are non-negotiable.
If you cannot keep your old routine – create a new one. Create rituals and time expectations that suit your new situation and you will soon find a comfort and perhaps even a purpose in this.
A – Get Active
I cannot stress enough how important getting outside and being physically active is. Exercise releases endorphins, which always feels good, and a good walk is a go-to for me as a mood booster. If you are a little fitter than I am, a game of something or a run or a cycle is an amazing circuit breaker (especially if you are stuck inside often on screens).
But beyond the physical benefits, being outdoors and in fresh air has tremendous psychological ones as well. Getting into green space in particular has the potential to create a huge positive boost – which we explored in one of our articles last year.
I – Ignore the Small Stuff
In times of crisis, it can be easy for little things to take on big significance. But if you ask me, one of the true keys to happiness is to determine how much energy you want to spend on things that are really unimportant. My mother had a wonderful phrase for this that she still uses to this day – “In the whole scheme of life, it really doesn’t matter”.
When the world around you is full of stresses – you need to ignore the little things that threaten to get under your skin – or the things you do because you think you should. In extraordinary times, we should throw SHOULD out the window.
Does it really matter if dinner isn’t super healthy every night? If your house isn’t as tidy as you would like it to be? If an extra piece of chocolate helps you through the day or if your caffeine intake goes up slightly? Pick your battles.
This also helps you protect your relationships with others. In lockdown last year many families suffered being under each other’s feet so much. We focused on the small things like the messy bedrooms or the loud music or the constant talking. By choosing where to take action and what to ignore, we give each other the gift of imperfection and understanding, and choose that connection over other less important things (like a tidy house). Because in the whole scheme of life, there are plenty of things that don’t really matter.
N – Notice the Good Stuff
If you have read many of my Hive articles over the past year or more now, you will know that I believe that gratitude is one of the most powerful ways to promote happiness. In every bad situation, you can choose to focus on something that is good. Stuck at home? More time to sleep, read, spent time with the dog, cook, learn things about your family and so on. Having to learn a lot to work in new ways? Wont that add to your CV for the future? I know there are situations out there that are so difficult that looking for a silver lining seems ridiculous and my encouraging you to do so may even come off as insensitive. I’m just suggesting it may help to find some small element of your situation to be grateful for – even if that is learning a hard lesson that may help you in the future.
While there are many models out there, we hope that TRAIN has provided you with some support through these weeks of lockdown, and that it continues to perhaps hold some resonance in the future. You might also be interested in this article, publishing on our Hive last year which gives you even more surprisingly beneficial things to boost your wellbeing.