Last Sunday afternoon I found myself writing this blog. Sleet had been falling all day, but I didn’t have the magical feeling I normally get with snow fall. Despite the bitter cold, the sleet wasn’t settling, and it just felt like yet another boring, grey, miserable weekend in lockdown 3.0.
I’m a big believer that happiness is found from within, but I’ll put my hand up and confess that there have been plenty of times I’ve not found it easy to find my inner happiness – even us wellbeing coaches find it a challenge to be happy and well sometimes! I find during the week work gives me focus and interaction and by the weekends, it's more difficult to find things to enjoy. Of course I'm far from alone. When I spoke to a few mum friends about it they too had the same challenge – one even joked that Friday evenings had become the new Sunday evenings, with the dread of figuring out how to fill the weekends, especially entertaining little people when the weather is so bleak.
Back in November when we faced the second lockdown, I felt for more prepared. I got on to a craft supplies website and ordered all the bits and bobs my son and I would need for our Christmas card and decoration creations. That, plus hours of researching Christmas presents from ethical and sustainable sources, kept me fairly entertained through the month - and of course the light at the end of the tunnel at that point was the the prospect of celebrating Christmas with a few family members.
Fast track to January, and we all geared up for yet more lockdown restrictions across the UK (and in many other countries of course too). I thought focusing on a health kick and reading all the great books I’d received for Christmas would keep the boredom at bay. In reality, I have never found cleaning up my diet more challenging, and whilst I have enjoyed my books, they most definitely haven’t compensated for all the hobbies and interests that I would normally fill my weekend with.
One of the things I am much better at these days is stepping into the present and being mindful about what’s going on for me - and what I need in order to ground myself and feel ok again. So that Sunday morning, when I could feel that Groundhog Day feeling creeping in, I made myself a quick list of all the things that I could do to make my afternoon feel more meaningful and satisfying. Writing this blog was one of the ideas.
I decided to rug up and head out for a decent walk before I decided exactly what I would focus on. I hadn’t hit my personal steps and yoga targets that week, and I’d been craving movement all weekend. Trying to do yoga at home with an almost 4-year-old around is a bit hit and miss but escaping for a walk is the one chance I get for “me time”. I’ve never minded walking in bad weather, in fact I quite enjoy that sense of blowing the cobwebs away - as long as I feel equipped with the right gear and can look forward to getting snug at home later, with a nice hearty meal (which I’d already had in the oven slow cooking). For me, the extra benefit of walking alone is the chance to connect with nature and restore a sense of calm. Living in South West London means there are plenty of green spaces to enjoy but having to stay local means I’ve grown pretty bored of the same commons each weekend - especially because they’re so packed. At least the bad weather kept the crowds away so it was a lot quieter and for that I felt really grateful.
When I got home and considered my list of options, I decided the most meaningful thing I could do, whilst keeping an eye on my son who was engrossed in his toy trains and dinosaurs) was to write. I’ve always loved to journal, I really appreciate the reflective process. Yet sometimes when it comes to blogs, I can get a bit stuck, spending way too long questioning whether people will be interested in my views. In the end though, on that Sunday when I knew many people would be struggling with the same challenges as me, I decided to share my thoughts and experience in a blog rather than my journal. My Sunday didn’t suddenly transform to the perfect day but I did feel like it had purpose and meaning – it was no longer the a waste of a day.
Looking back now, I realise I enjoyed many aspects of that weekend. There was lovely family time, me time, decent walks, chats with friends and great food. In all fairness at a high-level view that’s not dissimilar to pre-pandemic weekends and they certainly weren't always perfect or without their moments of boredom. Even in the best of times it’s understandable that we all have our moments of despair, boredom, sadness, frustration. I’m just so grateful that when I felt some of the less-desirable emotions rising in me, I didn’t get stuck sulking (which I have been guilty of in the past). I was able to ask myself how I wanted to feel and what would make the day meaningful. That shifted me out of my bad mood. Sometimes it's these challenging moments that lead us to creativity, innovation and appreciation - we just need to equip ourselves with the tools to break through.
If you’re finding lockdown a struggle and are lacking inspiration, you might like to check out my complimentary 5 step challenge to boost passion and purpose. It’s based on five principles within positive psychology and designed to be quick and simple. So for those short on time you can easily fit it in whilst helping to shift your mindset. I hope you enjoy it, see you there!