And breathe…

Photo by Diego Madrigal on

Today is Lockdown 6, Day 1. Where I live, we have had a huge number of days over the last eighteen months in some form of lockdown. In Victoria, we have only had a week of some form of freedom. As I left work yesterday, a few friends who are teachers popped by my desk to say goodbye and wish me luck with this snap lockdown. We had all reflected on the last one and how difficult Lockdown 5 had felt for us. With each of them, we talked about how we could tackle this one differently so that it didn’t wipe us out again. It has made me think about some of the things that made the last one feel so hard for me. I was in the waiting stage with my manuscript as I had sent it off for an assessment and that would have most likely been an anxious period for me anyway. I didn’t do any walks or walk-and-coffee catchups with mates. I didn’t go out into nature and breathe. I was anxiously trying to sort out temporary accommodation for our family and for one of my sons. These are all things I can tackle differently this time. Each lockdown has had its own personality.

As I roll into this one, I am in the throes of editing my manuscript. I have received my feedback from the manuscript assessor and it was incredibly useful. I feel more confident with the edits now. She is the first person to have read my story and it was a terrifying few weeks wondering if she would come back with heavy feedback on why it wasn’t working. Instead, I had the wonderful moment of hearing someone gushingly read back some of my words to me. The work that needs to be done will strengthen the story. I can see this already. So, this time around, I’m focussed and in a more positive mindset with my creative side.

This morning as I scrolled on Instagram, I came across this post below from Chris Cheers Psychology and it resonated well.

A snapshot of an instagram post that reads: To complete the stress cycle try: 
- slow deep breathing (5 deep breaths, or try an app)
- exercise (what ever that looks like for you)
- hugs (hold for 20 seconds, pets count)
- have a big cry or a big laugh
- engage in a creative activity.
Try one and notice the change in your body.

I stopped scrolling and took five long slow deep breaths. It does help. I have always found focussing on my breath helps. I remember after my mum and my eldest was incredibly unwell I heard someone say that if you are breathing, there is more right than wrong. Ever since then, I have come back to that in dire times. Breathe. Focus on the breath. Count the breath. Feel the breath fill you up.

My workplace has started some wellbeing groups and the one that I am in is yoga and meditation. The groups have been running for about four weeks now but I have only done one meditation in that time. I haven’t been to the gym, I have done any online yoga, I’ve barely done my exercises that are essential for my knee. It is all beginning to show. My knee has started to stiffen and swell. My shoulder is sore. I know I could probably get into the physio under essential care, but I know it really starts with me. This time around, I have recommenced my exercising. I started with a walk this morning before my writing. When I finish writing this, I’m going to do my knee and shoulder exercises. Later today I’m doing a walk and coffee with one of my friends. I know it helps but I think I’m fairly slack with these things. So, I’m scheduling it so that it has to happen. I made a plan with one of my teacher mates to meet for an afternoon walk along the way. As I write up my exercise schedule, I’m including Yoga with Adrienne sessions, walks with mates, knee and shoulder exercises, and bike rides by the river. Last year, they were like magical moments for me as I watched the cormorants warm their wings in the morning sun, the pelicans perched waiting for a fish to pass them by, the ducks and their ducklings gliding across the water. Exercise not only is good for the body, it’s good for the mind.

I’m lucky enough to live with three others and a dog. At least three of those love hugging so a hug is never too far away if I need one. Great hugs are memorable, and even more so since COVID come into everyone’s focus. I hope you have someone or a pet you can hug and receive a hug from.

Luckily, I drove to work yesterday as I needed to bring a few more things home that usual so that I could work from home next week. As I drove home, the tears came with big sobs. The weight of it all hit me. By the time I got home, I was okay. I’m thankful for the things I managed to squeeze in between Lockdown 5 and Lockdown 6. My hubby and drove up to see our son who has his placements in Bendigo this semester. The sun shone, we had lunch and walked around, had a cup of tea and drove home. It was a treat to get out of town for the day and to see him. My Improv showcase was on Sunday and it was huge burst of fun and laughter. A good friend and comedian came along to support me and it was so good to catch up with her and my classmates afterwards over beers, chips and wine. Laughter and tears. All the emotions that help release the tensions.

I have more creative projects than I have time for but this is how I like it. I could probably stay in lockdown forever and never finish them all but I’d be really socially deprived and probably be going out of my mind. I’ve been working on a chunky knit jumper that is so quick and fun to make so I’ll probably finish this tonight. My other knitting projects include a jumper for my husband, a summer cotton jumper for me and a baby blanket. I’m also still enjoying playing with illustration as I’d love to illustrate my picture books one day.

My friends from work are on my mind this morning as they will be delivering lessons to students remotely again. They have a tough gig. I’m thinking about how to support them in this, how to lift them from this a little. In the end, I think it will be the small things: staying in touch with them, coordinating a work from work day, sharing a moment of gratitude.

Take care, my friends. These are tough times for many, some experiencing tougher times than others. Tread gently, keep safe, get vaccinated and be kind to yourself and others.

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