When I planned this month’s blogs at the end of February, I had no idea that I’d be writing this from my sofa ahead of the second of who-knows-how-many weeks working from home. I have a sombre feeling that I’m sure is familiar to everyone right now. There is a whole truckload of things about COVID-19 which make me feel sad, and at the heart of much of this is the paralysing fear of how little I can do about the situation. I made a plan to write about power cuts – what it is to feel unable to influence a situation – this week, not knowing that I would be right smack bang in the middle of one.
So, I will do what I would advise anyone else to do – it’s harder to take your own advice but I’ll give it a go: start where I am, control what is mine to control, influence where I can and where it is prudent, and do my darndest to let go of every other thing.
The very first instalment of this blog was called ‘Start where you are’. I was in a bit of a daze having not quite believed I had a) offered to write a blog for Simone and NPW in the first place (see also: everything ever written about impostor syndrome), and b) that I had to follow through and actually write something useful. So, I just opened the front door out of my slightly zany world and let the words out. Somehow, we are still here, a hundred-odd articles later, and there are still words to come out.
I think that in the times we find ourselves in, it’s good to remember the moments where we’ve felt that fuzzy out-of-body feeling of ‘what have I gotten myself into’. In those moments, we were forced to look around, absorb the information available to us, then start from where we are. Simply begin.
I’m sure that many of us will find ourselves in personal ‘power cut’ moments in the next few days to months. Taking the first step is a fail-safe way of breaking the cycle. If you don’t want to get off the sofa but know that it would be good for you, make yourself do the one tiny thing. Don’t focus on making the whole dinner: just peel a carrot.
There is some great writing out there around circles of control and influence, so I’d strongly recommend doing some googling if you’re feeling curious and a bit nerd-emoji-like. But for those who need the takeaway now, here it comes.
We all have things that are ours to control. These are different for everyone, which is why it’s not okay to expect everyone to be perkily putting in place snappy new routines now they’re physically distancing themselves from others to control the spread of Coronavirus. But regardless of what our circumstances, we can all control some things. Other things we’d like to control but can’t. What we do have power over, if not control (young jedi Yoda you are not) is our reactions. We can get better at handling our physical and emotional and verbal reactions to difficult things.
Changing our mindset takes energy, which might be in short supply right now. But if you can take time to think about how you’re spending your energy, please can I wholeheartedly and unreservedly recommend physical exercise and mindfulness exercises as a way of slowing the tide of whelm.
Sidebar: mindfulness is not just sitting with your eyes closed with an app playing. It is taking the time to still your mind. This might be yoga (youtube is your friend here), going for a walk without your phone, or cuddling a bunny. If you don’t have a bunny, I suggest ordering some sort of nice cushion from Amazon Prime as soon as possible.
Sorry to those who find this in five years’ time and wonder why they didn’t get a perfectly formed part three on power cuts, with go-getting advice for pepping yourself up and gracefully accepting when you’re not able to steer the ship in the direction you are willing it to go. When life gives you lemons, you need to accept that they aren’t the grapefruits you asked for.
Whatever happens, Self Curious will continue each week. If you found the escape of this read helpful and it’s your first time reading the blog, do dip into the back catalogue. You’ll find fierce examples of getting sh*t done, wellbeing hacks and other nuggets to smooth your path through the working weeks, as well as ninja bunnies and how to work out the logistics of a hedgehog hug (what is it with the woodland creatures?!). We continue to be on the socials, both at the NPW accounts and on my twitter and insta, so please don’t be a stranger. Physical distancing doesn’t have to be socially isolating, so let’s take care together.
Claire Eadington geeks out on workflow management, performance and wellbeing.
Claire writes a weekly blog, Self Curious, on NPW’s website.