Another Monday in quarantine
Your alarm goes off for the third time this morning, you roll out of bed and into the shower, already thinking about the eight zoom meetings you have to face today. On auto-pilot you make your coffee, it’s bitter warmth barely registering as you scroll through your emails on your phone and force down a slice of toast. You take a big sigh as you open your laptop and settle in for the next three hours of back-to-back meetings about things you don’t particularly care about, and think to yourself how much you wish you could be texting your friends to confirm your weekly happy hour on Friday…instead of looking forward to another night in on the sofa and a bowl of pasta.
Quarantine can suck
If this sounds at all familiar, you aren’t alone. In the wellbeing workshops I run at Google, I often hear the same themes over and over when I ask – what has the impact of working from home been on your wellbeing? Here are the top answers:
- The monotony of quarantine life is depressing and boring
- The lack of normal structure means it’s easier for bad habits to slip in
- It’s isolating; we are all zoom-ed out but desperately miss connection
- Mentally and Emotionally we are exhausted, making us feel physically tired despite a lack of exercise and movement
In fact, when we type into Google “why is quarantine so…..” here are the top results:
“Why is quarantine so BORING”
“Why is quarantine so DEPRESSING”
“Why is quarantine so HARD”
No wonder we aren’t feeling too cheerful these days!
Combatting the quarantine blues
So how can we make the most of this time rather than counting down the days until our life goes back to “normal”? The answer – by adopting a more positive mental attitude. Sounds simple doesn’t it, but if you’ve ever tried to get yourself or someone else out of a bad mood then you know that those periods can be awfully sticky and hard to shift. Here are my 3 tip for becoming a slightly more positive version of your quarantine-self:
1. Start every day with gratitude
I absolutely LOVE this quote by Meister Eckhart:
“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough”.
Practicing gratitude is one of the quickest and easiest ways to shift into a more positive mindset. It’s impossible to feel grateful and hopeless at the same time. There are lots of ways to practice gratitude and the gratitude list – writing out as many things you can think to be grateful for – is one of the more popular. Although I like the gratitude list, I find for me it can quickly start to feel transactional and like I’m on auto-pilot just naming the same things in my life.
My new preferred method of practicing gratitude is to practice experiencing the sensation of gratitude. How do I do this? I find a quiet place for me to be alone and connect with myself. I close my eyes and bring my awareness to my body. I bring to mind the word “Thank You” and I try to imagine that God / The Universe / Spirit is before me receiving my thanks. I tune into what it feels like to be truly grateful to be here, on this planet, living my life with all of it’s wonderful highs and terrible lows. The more awareness I can bring to that sensation, the more it grows, until I feel a deep sense of peace and contentment. Just practicing this for 5 minutes at day can be TRANSFORMATIONAL! Tip for beginners: try listening to music that inspires and moves you when you start this practice, it can be a fast-track for me to get in the vibration of gratitude!
2. Ask yourself, “what’s another perspective available to me?”
This is a popular coaching tool from the Co-Active Leadership model that invites us to connect with the truth that whatever our current situation is, we are choosing to view it from a particular perspective. A perspective is your vantage point – the lens you are seeing the world through. For a given situation (especially one where you aren’t feeling good about the experience) t can be really helpful to personify the perspective in a way that brings it to life for you.
For example, if you are finding quarantine life boring, depressing and long then we could call this the “damp log perspective” – I’m reminded of an old damp log in the wood on a rainy day – it’s heavy and rotten and makes me feel a bit sad and lonely. So once we’ve acknowledged we are in the “damp log perspective”, now we get to pick another perspective to choose to see our situation through.
The NEW perspective I am going to pick is the “fluffy, white socks perspective”, for no other reason than that is what I see beyond my keyboard. If we look at quarantine through this new perspective, we might see that quarantine is warm, cosy and comforting (or maybe something entirely different comes up for you when you think of fluffy, white socks!) We’ve viewed the same set of facts (i.e being in quarantine) through a different perspective and a new experience has been opened up for us.
This is a helpful tool that I use all the time to reframe things that may at first seem unpleasant or annoying. Let’s say I’m stuck in traffic and I’m going to be late and I’m stuck in a frustrated and impatient perspective (we could call it the “ARGGHH perspective”) then I ask myself what’s another perspective that’s possible. Perhaps the perspective is “cool’ surfer girl” and I allow myself to lean back, put some tunes on and pretend I’m cool as a cucumber.
Through practicing this skill we are reminding ourselves that although we may not have agency over the facts of our situation, we ALWAYS have choice when it comes to our outlook. Just making a small shift with our perspective can have a BIG impact to the way we feel and the way we show up in the world.
3. Smile when you talking
What I love most about this tip is that you can start experimenting with it immediately! I read this in a book the other day and thought I’d try it, and low and behold within a few hours I was in a much better mood! What I found is that when you smile at people as your are talking, they are SO much more likely to smile back at you. I found myself being more vulnerable and open with people and felt a greater degree of connection than I feel I normally would. I encourage you to try this EVEN when you are wearing a mask.
The other day I had to have my photo taken wearing my mask at the doctors office and the medical staff all said they could tell I was smiling underneath my mask through my eyes. We had a little laugh about it and again, it was a precious moment of connection that I otherwise wouldn’t have enjoyed. I challenge you to smile while you are talking for one day and see how you feel at the end of it! Let me know 🙂
Every day is a new chance to choose who you want to be
So there you have it, 3 quick and easy tips I use to be a more positive person, despite the challenges many of us are facing during quarantine. Most importantly, please be gentle with yourself and remember that these are difficult times and I KNOW you are doing your best.
If you are looking for more support, join me for my 6 week course Learn to Love Your Life, with options for private video coaching and voice-note coaching to fit your needs and budget. You deserve to love your life and I’m here to support you!