If like me you have been working from home these last 12 weeks alongside many others around the country or indeed the world, its probably been somewhat of a mixed bag.
Whilst I found myself thoroughly enjoying (dare I say it) the first few weeks of 'lock-in'- more time with the kids, no 'unnecessary journeys' anywhere! Great weather, time in the garden, sleep-ins and the novelty of home-cooked food 3 times a day. Heaven?
Well, I must admit the novelty soon wore off!
I found myself playing a constant game of Russian roulette with my inner resources. What was fun in the kitchen creating new culinary delights soon became chasing my tail in an attempt to keep on top of the never-ending stacks of dishes, sweeping, moping, in a desperate attempt to stave away the clutter. No sooner was one meal finished the all too familiar 'muummm' what's for lunch, dinner, breakfast echoed through the house.
Between speed learning, google classroom, houseparty, zoom and hangout; becoming an overnight expert in fractions, persuasive writing and riddle-solving; was the minor inconvenience that our 'living in the sticks' internet tended to crash every half hour at peak times. Meaning uploading the work for my two teenage children 11 and 15 took longer than the work itself.
What really drove me over the edge, in the end, was the complete and utter 'lack of space' both internal and external.
I soon became fed up with social media reporting how much extra time we apparently had, how it was an ideal time to update, upskill and rejuvenate.
I was working longer and harder than ever before.
I had to rethink and quick because this wasn't going away any time soon!
Having practised meditation, mindfulness and yoga; as well as exercising regularly for many years now; I had some idea how to go about creating change strategically:
I knew that de-cluttering the house (check out Maria Kondo for buckets of sensible advice) would go yards to creating a calmer inner environment,
However, it felt impossible to keep on top of the whole house constantly.
So I changed tactic! I decluttered the most cluttered box room in the house (could be any space in your house or apartment or even a little partition in a bigger room or a garden shed might work).
I created a 'me space' to withdraw and soon the whole family took turns in taking me-time to decompress.
I created an 'unwind box' where I would both mentally and physically store my work to mark the end of day eg to hold your laptop, notebooks etc.
I started recognising the warning signs- rapid shallow breathing, slight raise in pitch and tone of my voice, feeling overwhelmed by mildly distracting noises in my surroundings- child chewing with their mouth open etc- all signs of nervous system overstimulation. Signalling that our responses are coming more from the Sympathetic nervous system ie 'fight or flight' rather than the 'rest and regenerate' response of the Parasympathetic nervous system.
So what to do:
Let it out! I realised that there was no way I could settle into that lovely relaxing zoom yoga or meditation class before dealing with my more fiery emotions first.
Exercise, punch a cushion, do star jumps, try the yoga method of 'fire breathing', sing loudly and disjointedly in the shower, write it all down and burn or shred after.
Accept responsibility- no one can cope for you. Others can help but the initiative has to come from you.
Mindfulness and meditation: Yes here we go again, but seriously the science is behind it.
Give it a go even 5-10 minutes a day make a difference.
Talk to someone: have a good ole 'chinwag' with a trusted friend or family member! So important to find ways to connect despite these strange times.
Consider booking a few sessions with a professional therapist or life coach to gain perspective and get back on tracks! Can do wonders to talk it our with someone confidentially without needing to choose your words or reciprocate.
Laugh like no ones watching- try smiling or laughing at nothing in particular. The movement of these finer facial muscles sends signals to your brain to release 'feel-good' hormones. In no time you'll be laughing for real!
Having a date or appointment with myself- walk to the back of the garden, get a take out herbal tea/ coffee from the local deli-on your own.
I started creating a 'ritual of pause' to have a cup of my favourite herbal tea, go for a brisk walk, do a bit of weeding in the garden, dig my hands into the soil.
Here's how to create yours:
* Set a timer and commit to taking time out!
* Be realistic- you might not manage 1/2 an hour 3 times a day, but 10 mins twice daily might be achievable...
* Make it pleasurable! This is your 'me time' so make it count!
Herbal teas are a great way of staying hydrated!
We all know that good hydration helps us focus better, increases mental alertness and general productivity.
Herbal tea or more accurately herbal infusions tend to be caffeine-free or low in caffeine.
Herbs are wonderful restorative, uplifting and rejuvenating allies when adapting to change in our lives.
They also lend themselves beautifully to creating that ''ritual of pause'' we spoke about earlier.
Pleasurable, aromatic and easy to incorporate they make for a perfect moment of 'me time'.
As the Japanese say so eloquently to summarise their ancient tradition of Tea ceremony:
'Ichi-go Ichi-e' meaning 'one time, one meeting'.
Many are what we call 'adaptogens' meaning they help us adjust in times of increased pressure or stress.
They are also often rich in minerals and vitamins helping to combat depression from overwork or viral fatigue eg Nettle, Oatstraw.
Thirdly many herbs and spices contain essential oils which can either be stimulating or relaxing in nature as well as having beneficial effects on our smooth muscles eg. clearing and opening our lungs, stimulating digestion and promoting effective elimination through our kidneys and bowels.
They also are very beneficial to help in promoting a healthy sleep pattern.
At Solaris tea, we specialise in 100% organic, whole-leaf infusions free from any artificial flavours or additives.
Karin Mueller is co-owner of Solaris tea and has been working in the field of wellness and health for over 20 years now. She is a Medical Herbalist (BSc Hons), practising Midwife (BSc Hons), Massage and Spa therapist and experienced course facilitator and teacher on a wide range of topics related to mindfulness, meditation and women’s health. She is currently also studying in the ‘Medicine of Light’ school to deepen her spiritual practise.