For some time now, the shadow of a return to Stage 3 restrictions has hovered over us – and now that they have been announced we might feel a mixture of relief – that we finally know what the future will hold and also sadness, that we must limit our lives and restrict our movements once more. Your sadness may even be deeper than that – wondering how you will cope with reduced capacity to work and earn, more responsibility for children, or doors to activities that feel necessary for your mental health closing again. Whatever you are feeling right now, please rest assured it is normal.
Just over a week ago, I wrote an article I hoped wasn’t necessary – about the inner strength and qualities we have that we can draw upon should we need to go back into Lockdown again. It turns out it was well timed – you might like to read it again here (or for the first time if you haven’t had a chance to read it yet).
But today I want to talk more practically about the now real return to restrictions that has arrived and begins late tonight (Wednesday 8 July).
If we use our Optimism, we can make ourselves aware of all the practical things we learnt last time about what we need to get us through. Here are some of the things that occurred to me as I watched the Premier make his announcement.
One of the keys to a sense of normality in lockdown was always to stay in routine. If you are working and/or studying from home, although you might alter this routine, keep a routine in place. Routines make us feel supported and help us know what to expect – this gives us an element of control.
Have set times when you get up and go to bed. This increases productivity and ensures that crucial tasks still get done even with the many distractions of home. Keep family dinner times and whatever routines you might have about sharing around the dinner table (if you don’t have a practice like this, establishing a routine of expressing what you were grateful for in your day could go a long way in times like these). Keep or maintain expectations around daily exercise and television limits and reading before bed time.
Life goes on and we must keep up our discipline with it.
Getting out into nature where you can
Admittedly the weather was better during the last lockdown, but getting out into fresh air and nature if you can helps combat the feeling of being hemmed in by four walls. It is also especially good for promoting learning – this is a scientific fact – you can read the research here.
Although we have all been advised to stay closer to home when taking our daily exercise for the next six weeks, there are plenty of absolutely beautiful places nearby that you can go to (when the rain allows) to absorb some of the beauty of nature. Many of these I found or sought out during our last lockdown. In the Casey/Cardinia region where most readers will be, try a stroll through Wilson Botanic Park while it is open, as well as the walk up Mount Cannibal, the thousand steps in Narre Warren, take little ones bike riding along Cardinia Reservoir and even wander through the Botanic Gardens in Cranbourne. For the creatives amongst us, I have taken stunning photos at each site as well.
Make sure you use your right to exercise each day as a way to get outside and appreciate wider open spaces. And feel free to share other suggestions below – we might need them!
Staying in Touch
Although we must stay physically distant from each other, continue to nurture your valuable relationships. Do this as much for yourself as for others – although you might have a full and busy household, there will be friends out there who will find lockdown incredibly lonely.
Technology has been brilliant in helping us stay in touch with each other. Be conscious of the friends who might need you right now and well as the friends who buoy you so well and make sure you keep open lines of communication going.
Whilst talking about staying in touch, remember that your social media accounts will be one powerful way people will be staying in contact with you. Consider carefully the messages and influence that you spread. This is why I have taken the #postpositivepledge – I am going to use my social media accounts to support others across this period of restrictions. It doesn’t mean I will always be happy, nor that I won’t seek help at times, but I will be conscious of what I put our into the world and try to motivate others positively.
Being Humble, Grateful and Patient with those around us
While we are at home more often, little things start to grate on us. Coffee cups left lying around, desks untidied and dishes unwashed… it can feel a little exhausting. Or maybe it’s constant talk, or a need for space or a need for varied company that gets you down.
Just remember that we are all struggling in our own way right now, and to be kind and patient while still maintaining your sanity. Is an errant coffee cup worth starting WWIII?
And possibly you are not perfect either! Give free passes and kind smiles more often. Even to pets!
Keeping a Greater Purpose in Mind
Our Wellbeing Theme at the Senior Boys Campus this term is Purpose – and so I will be writing a lot more about the important role a sense of purpose plays in our lives across the next few weeks. And while Humour was a great wellbeing theme last term to keep our spirits up during the last lockdown, Purpose will not only keep us focused on what is important in our lives, but keep us focused on why we are in lockdown, which is mainly to care for the health of others – those who are elderly or immune-compromised, as well as the young and vulnerable. Staying at home protects our immediate family and many other members of the community from the spread of the virus.
Your general sense of purpose in your life will also keep you going in this period. Whatever it is that is most important to you – whether it be spending time with family, writing, being fit and healthy, making films, being charitable – find a way to work towards it even during this time. You might simply need to be just a little bit more creative. Our combined desire as a community to continue to support the wellbeing of young people was the driving force behind establishing the Wellbeing Hive – which emerged during our last lockdown. So new ways of thinking could actually provide you with new possibilities as well.
Embracing the Five Habits of the Wellbeing Hive
I also recently wrote about a difficult day where I realized just how helpful the five daily habits can be in maintaining balance and wellbeing. You can access this article here.
Ultimately this was a moment where I really realized the power of good habits and their role in feeling in control and balanced. These are all things we will need in the next few weeks.
So keep in mind the recommendation to make time in your day for each of the habits. To CONNECT with those we care about. To get fresh air and EXERCISE, which is great for mind and body. To be MINDFUL in whatever way works for us – meditation, gratitude, quiet time, music etc. To embrace being CREATIVE – to feel like we achieve something and tap into those motivating creative juices. And finally, to READ – remember books will make those four walls fall away and allow you to take a trip to Hogwarts, to Narnia, to colonial America and so much more.
Be conscious of things that work and take control of the next few weeks right now – and in doing so we will move with more grace, more gratitude and more love through this return to Stage 3.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels