Acknowledging the new normal

I know that this whole situation seems surreal, like our freedom of choice in some areas has been removed. What I also know is that this is for the greater good. It is for something bigger than us. It is for our most vulnerable, our communities and for those who are on the frontlines as essential service workers.

One thing I to be true is that every person is experiencing this lockdown differently. The way we process what is going on around us can bring up multiple emotions and we can feel like we have a loss of control and a lack of understanding about what is happening.

To show this, I wanted to acknowledge where I am in this new normal, with you.

We left the city on Wednesday via ferry to isolate ourselves at our family bach. We made the decision mid-morning Wednesday when we saw that tickets had become available. We rushed to fill the car, tidy the house and pick up my father in law so that we could be a bubble together.

When we arrived and were packing our gear onto the boat, I had this overwhelming feeling of gratitude that we were able to do this. Concurrently, I was feeling stressed and anxious about what the next month would bring. Once arrived at our destination, I had to quickly change and teach my Wednesday night yoga class. I managed to find yoga pants, a singlet and hook up a bar stool and flutter boards to line up my phone and connect to zoom. My participants would have had no idea that I was flustered and feeling extremely unprepared! Let alone the fact that I found out after my class that there was a power cut and my father in law was cooking baked beans on the BBQ for our dinner!

As we organised the rooms and headed off to bed, I felt heavy in my chest. I checked in with myself and realised that this was anxiety. I hadn’t experienced it in so long and yet here I was, in the middle of nowhere, transport only by boat, surrounded by my family and feeling like I was completely alone.

This was the beginning of 5 days of feeling utterly lost. My sleep was erratic and not restorative. I would wake to my daughter-who was feeling scared-and then go back into a deep slumber until woken. I would then just stay in bed and doze some more. My energy was so low, and the thought of being in this place-a place that usually brings me so much joy-was making me feel sick.

What was worse is that even though I had such low energy I was smashing out work like there was no tomorrow. I was recording yoga videos; I was teaching classes online and I’d do free meditations on my facebook page. I was working solidly on my job, answering emails, having meetings, working out spreadsheets and marking workbooks so that I didn’t have to sit still. This way I had control. If I overcompensated on the work I had to do, I didn’t have to express those anxious feelings that I was experiencing. My energy was channelled elsewhere. It took me until day 7 to realise that this was what I was doing. I was trying to look after everyone ‘out there’ rather than looking after myself and my bubble who were right in front of me.

The routines that I have for myself fell by the wayside. I’m usually an early bird, up around 6am for a meditation, some physical movement and a little bit of peace and quiet before the start of the day. Instead, I’d do nothing. I’d try to meditate, but instead I just wanted to be lazy. Around day 5 I realised how much I needed my exercise and meditation. They make a difference and I knew that if I did them it would keep me more on track.

The guilt though that I started to feel was overwhelming. Here I was, healthy, in a place where I am surrounded by nature, still able to do my job remotely, being surrounded by family and, all I could do was think of myself, work and how worried I was about whether we had made a mistake isolating ourselves far from everything.

Not to mention the guilt over my parenting skills.

I was seeing on facebook all these people maintaining routines for their kids, showing their latest creative project of the day or the math problems that they’d been having their kids solve and here was me, not really giving a shit about what the kids were doing because they were happy and healthy. I wasn’t interested in them having to do school work-its school holidays anyway- and I didn’t want to have to direct them and keep them at ‘school’.

Right here, I want to give a shout out to the parents who are looking after their kids and doing the best they can in this situation. You all rock! But don’t do what I did with my work, and overcompensate by doing as much as you can to keep your kids happy without recognising and acknowledging your own emotions and feelings about what is happening around you. Parenting is hard work- this situation takes it to a new level. Don’t be hard on yourself.

Humans are great deflectors.

For me, this was all my way of processing the situation that we are in. It was my reactions, both physically and mentally, to this new normal. None of it has a tag of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, it just is what it is.

That tight feeling in my chest- which I realised was anxiety was telling me to stop. It was telling me to use my self-awareness and acknowledge what I was feeling instead of losing it in work. Instead I was pushing. I was pushing to stay in the old normal.

Take a look at the last week for you. Have you been pushing through trying to act as if nothing has changed or have you given yourself time to actually feel and process what is changing around you?

It may be that instead you’re:

-now working from home when usually you would be in an office and are struggling with productivity as the kids are demanding your attention.

– self-isolating alone which is lonely.

-pushing your own emotions aside so that you can re-create ‘normal’ for the kids or your partner/flatmates.

-trying to do every DIY job you can think of and ignoring the DIY you need.

-not sleeping well

-have a lack of energy but are still trying to keep up with what you usually do because you’re scared if you don’t that you’ll be failing.

Is this different to usual? In all likelihood it is, so why are you not giving yourself permission to realise that it is!

We are literally working through grief, a change that will have a huge impact on us in many ways. This is best explained by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross(1969) in her work on the 5 stages of grief and the change curve. It shows the stages and emotions that we go through as we go through a situation of change and grief. It is not linear, it is more like a rollercoaster with twists, turns and backward motion that eventually moves us toward a new normal.

There is no right or wrong way of dealing with this situation.

I wanted to share some ideas that I have found helpful:

Rest: allow yourself this. No-one is going anywhere. Where in your day can you have some time to yourself. You can give yourself time to reflect on what needs to be done, what is really just deflection and what will give you some joy during this time.

Practice self-awareness: if something comes up for you, acknowledge it and talk to someone in your bubble. You may like to use the format of: This (insert situation) happened. I feel (insert how you are feeling). I need (insert what you need).

Give yourself permission: this could be permission to sleep in, to not focus on your childs every need that day, to wake up and meditate before the rest of the house or to have some time by yourself. Whatever it is just give yourself permission unapologetically.

Move your body: go for a walk, do an online workout, join me for a yoga class online, dance! Whatever it is get the energy moving in your body and remember fresh air is often the best medicine.

Honour your energy: your energy will be up and down at this time. Honour where it is at any given time and listen to what your body needs. Take note where you are in your menstrual cycle and how that could also be affecting your energy levels and what you feel like doing.

We are all in this together. How we react is our choice. Having self-awareness is a practice. With it we can come out of this with a new understanding of ourselves, our needs and what is most important to us.

I would love to hear how you have been feeling. Feel free to email me, or send me a message on social media. Sharing how we feel creates space for us to move into the new.

Stay safe and healthy

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