Difficult times

It is a difficult time for everyone, and with the future unknown regarding social distancing it can be hard to know what is right or wrong. As a single parent I am juggling working from home, teaching my children, keeping up with housework and now managing a long-distance relationship due to lockdown rules.

It can be very difficult at times to stick to the rules when all I want is a hug from my partner after a long day of balancing everything but I know it’s the right thing for us all so that we can stay safe and still provide support in the job roles we have. During lockdown I’ve witnessed first-hand how those living alone struggle without the daily interaction from another human being, a little conversation could be the only one that they have had that day and can mean a lot to their overall wellbeing and mental health. (After all we are biological designed to need at least one more person in our life.)

Some people do genuinely prefer solitude, but for the majority of the population we need to be around other people. So when the person in front of you is taking longer than usual at the checkout, it may be worth remembering that their interaction at that point is their only one for the day and is very much needed to help them feel connected to the world.

As for me, I will gladly converse with anyone and I’m often asked ‘how long have you known them?’ and my answer is, ‘I don’t, I was just being nice’ I am a talker and everyone in my life knows this, I once saw Gareth Gates in the local supermarket and just as I would with any of my friends asked him ‘Hiya you alright? How’s things’? I didn’t even stop to think ‘I don’t actually know you and you don’t know me’; I am just a natural talker and love to engage in conversations. Some people are huggers, some are not, I am 100% a hugger and love nothing more than embracing family and friends with a great big hug. So, to now be told I cannot do so is very difficult and goes against my nature, I am just happy I can still make phone calls, otherwise I’d feel more lost and disconnected from everyone.

Staying connected

So, the question is how do you stay connected? I am very lucky to have fantastic parents who will still call, offer to mow the lawn and cook me beautiful meals. I know this is their way of showing their affection and taking care of me. Mowing my lawn is my dad’s way of saying ‘I’m still here if you need me’, and I may be an adult now, but nothing beats your mum’s homemade meals, its comfort food that keeps us connected! My partner will send gifts to me and the children as a way to reach out and brighten our day, and I love the effort he goes to (especially when it’s a wine delivery!) The gifts, calls and messages really do help you feel connected, and that someone is thinking of you, but I still miss the hug’s and embrace.

It’s times like this when you need to remind yourself that safety for everyone has to be a priority, I feel as though I need to make a tally of when I want a hug so I can back date them with family and friends. I have instead made a list of top ways to stay connected whilst in lockdown, some may work for you, others may not. The fact that you are willing to try and put the effort in shows you already want to make the extra effort to stay connected.

  1. Think about ways you can interact with others without putting yourselves at risk, speak over the fence to neighbours, some streets are doing bingo sat on the drive, others are playing musical instruments to each other…..think safety first then think out of the box.
  2. Phone calls are great to keep in the loop, but have you tried video calling? Apps such as WhatsApp, Zoom, house party etc. can be used on smart phones. This way you can see each other and feel even more connected, why not have a girls/lad’s night in? Or organise a family quiz? There are many options and ideas, you just have to get creative and experiment with technology.
  3. Offer your support to those in need, if you are well enough and able to why not offer to do the shopping for your elderly neighbour? Doing a good deed can help you feel connected and it can be appreciated immensely.
  4. Spend the time getting to know the people you live with more, if you are sharing your home even with just the kids use the time to your advantage. Spend time together, learn more, create memories that you can share. When you’re asked by future generations ‘what did you do when the coronavirus came?’ Think about what you want to be able to tell them, or what your children might say because I feel confident in saying they will remember the memories more then the struggles, the dens you made, the crazy painting you did, the time spent together. It’s that which is valuable that we need to all take from this.
  5. Use your daily exercise hour to really improve your physical and mental health as well as being connected to the world around you. Exercise gives you endorphins which are natural feel good emotions. Sunshine hits your head and gives the serotonin in your body a nudge and improves your wellbeing and mindset. Connect with others but don’t forget your surroundings are important too.

Time for you

I for one am trying to use this time to improve my physical health, no matter how small the walk/run/cycle etc. is, it’s better than nothing. Give yourself a target and build up to it, the sense of achievement can make you feel proud and determined to do more. It’s certainly something I am going to try and keep up, sometimes you need to make time for yourself, listen to your own mind and body and be connected to what it is telling you. Some people find mediation just as useful or have a creative outlet such as painting or crocheting. I find when I’ve started crocheting, I can’t put it down because I have become lost in the work and my brain has finally had chance to switch off. The break away from reality makes me feel much more connected to the world and the others around me. ‘You’ time is just as important as making time for others and however you do it is fine as long as it works for you and you can reap the benefits as it will reflect better when you are connecting with others.

Hopefully, you will have found some benefit to reading this blog, just remember we are only human. We are allowed to have days that are hard, days when you don’t want to stick to the rules but you do because it’s the right thing, days when the kids have driven you insane and that surprise delivery of wine is looking really appealing. You are allowed to feel the pressure, because we as a generation have never known anything like this and it can be frightening. But if we work together, put the extra effort in to stay connected we can power through and embrace the changes that are being made. Maybe I wont be able to hug as much after all of this is over, but it doesn’t mean I don’t love my family and friends as much, it just means I have to show it another way to stay connected.