Be ok with not ok, look after yourself
I have my down days still. I am thinking about being at home, I am going to cook more, workout more, I don’t have to commute, so I can fill all that time to be more productive, being a wonderful friend and starting all these hobbies I always wanted to have, I am even playing piano in my head.
Then the guilt comes, the guilt that I am not doing enough, the guilt that I am not going out for a run today, the guilt I feel for the frontline workers, those heroes standing outside my door to collect my rubbish every Thursday morning at 6am, the guilt that I am not grateful enough. I even feel guilty for feeling exhausted.
It is so easy to be overly hard on ourselves. It is like we are on holiday but that’s not at all what’s going on here. We are in crisis, we are dealing with the emotional stress. That commute time we are saving is going to be extra meetings, we are literally trying to figure out how to do our job remotely. We take time to check in with each other more, and make sure everyone is ok.
If I want to be a better person today and I fail, it isn’t a sign that I won’t get there, it is a sign that this is very hard. Sometimes we need to cry actually. In many ways the under 4-year old kids are wiser than us adults. They know that when it gets too much, what they need to do is to go to bed and spend 10 minutes sobbing. Then the afternoon will be a lot better, crying puts us back to the present moment.
It is ok to be not ok, it is ok if you feel extra tired right now, it is ok to not be the fittest version of yourself, it is ok you just try to go for a half hour walk instead of running three days a week, it is ok to say I am not having a good day today and I need a cry, it is ok if the only thing you are trying to do right now is to get through this period of time, take care of your health and your family’s health – that’s enough.
My yoga teacher once said to me, when you leave your yoga mat out, even if you just lie on it for five minutes, that’s a daily practice. You connect with the ground, you are telling yourself I am prioritising ‘me time’, I am a strong human who is thriving. Looking after yourself is the only way to have the fuel to truly take care of others.
What we need now more than ever is kindness. And I would add - kindness to ourselves.
Perspective is everything
I am locked down by myself, it’s obviously a new ‘scary’ experience. I could have many excuses to feel sad and I do miss my family dearly. Today, I heard someone on video saying ‘you can be in lockdown on your own but you can still be a connected human’. He just spoke directly to me.
Connection operates across different categories of friendships. You can be connected to an animal, you can be connected to a book, you can be connected to a piece of history, you can be connected to somebody you just met across the street. So I am staying at home by myself but I am connecting with my family, my friends, a bird, a flower and a lot of things all over the world, if I chose to think this way.
Perspective is everything, it is all about how you think about it. It looks like I am not being given a choice to go into lockdown again and again but actually I am given two choices: one is to feel sorry for myself, the world will still not change and I stay in darkness. The other option is to do something about it, let the light in.
I have a very simple exercise: for every negative thought, I ask myself to bring in a positive one about the same situation. One by one, I exchange anger, stress and disappointment with grace, joy and happiness. The optimism is not just to make me feel better, the positivity can change my world.
I started my conversation with:
‘I don’t know when this is going to end.’ But – ‘We have scientists around the world working day and night to find how this works, everything is just a phase we are going through, when was the last time in history anything actually took forever?’
‘I don’t want to cook.’ But – ‘Well, it’s a good time to improve your diet with a balanced nutrition plan, try it and cooking is fun!’
‘I feel sad today.’ But – ‘Great you notice your emotions, this is a good start for self-awareness. What can you do for yourself? A bath or a hot lemon ginger tea?’
‘I miss my family, I wish I still stayed with them.’ But – ‘Call them right now, tell them your feelings and wish them well, I am so grateful for the time we spent in the past few months, full of joy.’
I choose to shift to light every moment I can and make myself feel it. It’s not easy and not a one-time thing. Just like a workout, it’s a daily practice. Let ‘shift’ be my action. I started to enjoy my cooking and I wanted to be able to smell the food and taste it, look at it, touch it, even listen to it. I am learning to shift the chore into my daily joy.
Imagining you are in a dark room and it is bright outside. Your only job is to go to the window, pull out the rag and start to clean, just clean, sooner or later, the light will enter naturally, it takes the darkness away.