COVID-19 has been a challenge to us all irrespective of our situation – parents, businessmen/women, kids, even our pets! And for a person who suffers anxiety and depression on a good day, I’m really struggling during Lockdown to keep my cool.
Being a parent, it’s hard not to feel an immense amount of pressure during these times – suddenly, we also have to be a teacher, a cook, a cleaner, a fitness instructor, a counsellor and a play-mate to our kids, so it’s hard not to feel over-whelmed by it all.
I spent the first three-four weeks of lockdown self-sabotaging. Dwelling on what I hadn’t managed to complete this day, and that. Hating myself for how many times I shouted at the kids for not doing as they were told. Feeling hopeless for not managing to complete all of the tasks that were on my work to-do list, and my relationship with my family was suffering.
By the end of each day, I was exhausted and even more depressed than I ever had been and I will admit that I was probably one or two tantrums away from the nut house.
I knew something had to change the day I burst out crying in front of the first person to walk past my front door and ask me how I was doing. Not only was I embarrassed about my involuntary breakdown, it just wasn’t like me to be so openly vulnerable.
I decided to give myself a shake, pick up the dogs’ leads and go a walk to the park to calm down and reflect. I left my mobile phone behind and decided instead, to focus on meditating as I walked and I can’t tell you just how amazing that feeling was – it was as though I had just broken off a ball and chain and I was free again.
This was a breakthrough in my mental health because in that moment, I hadn’t a care in the world. When I got home an hour later, I decided to sit down with a pen and paper and write five things that made me overly stressed during Lockdown, I ended up writing six.
Once I had my list, I decided to cut myself free of these other “ball and chains” too:
1. Accept that I am never going to have a tidy house – one of the biggest reasons for me shouting at the children was over toys, scooters, sweet-wrappers being left out everywhere!
2. Accept that I am not going to feel like working every day – another was feeling under pressure to update my clients, and keep up to date in my social media business pages. So, I now pick and choose what days I will work and the days I’m not, technology is put aside.
3. Accept that my kids will misbehave – being locked up together for 6 weeks (and counting), is enough to drive any adult berserk, never mind a child! Preparing myself before a tantrum, to approach a situation with sympathy, rather than frustration.
4. Accept that it actually is healthy to lose it sometimes – learning to ride the tide, rather than standing against the current. Understanding that it’s ok to not be in control all the time, and to show myself sympathy and compassion too.
5. Accept that we are all on the same boat – it’s often easy to be so self-consumed with how we are feeling, that we forget to ask others how they are. Taking the time to ask those you love, and even strangers, how they are will remind me that I am not alone
6. Accept that being a parent doesn’t mean being serious all the time – part of the issue was I was trying so hard to be authoritative to my children (to educate, to discipline and to provide for them), that I was forgetting to have fun with them! Taking time out to just be silly, releasing that inner child can actually be refreshing. I whip out my old DJ decks and we have mini discos now, which is great fun!