Corinne will be speaking online at the Oundle Literary Festival, 13th May 2021: https://oundlelitfest.org.uk/events/corinne-sweet-everyday-self-care-for-busy-lives-series/.
Over the past year, plunged deep into a pandemic, many of us have dreamt of the moment when we would be free again.
In the first, second and third lockdowns many of us have felt trapped, isolated, fearful, wondering if life would ever return to ‘normal’. We have had to deal with sickness, loss, relationship break-ups and total disruption to work, social and family life.
And yet, for many, despite the hardships and losses, there have been gains: a sense of freedom, an enjoyment of silence and birdsong, a feeling of peace being with oneself.
Over the past year I have worked online with many psychotherapy clients daily exploring every aspect of their emotions and psyches, as they have struggled with the pandemic. For some, it has meant an increase in addictive behaviour, for others relationship breakdown.
However, for some it has meant learning to garden, to enjoy the simplicity of life, and pleasure in spending more time with children and partners at home (despite the pressures of home-schooling).
Thus, as the lockdown lifts, I am seeing quite a few clients begin to baulk at the idea of getting back out there, as before. We know cliches like the ‘new normal’ have been bandied about, but what do they really mean?
Most certainly, many people have enjoyed life going at a slower, more thoughtful and aware pace. Choice being removed has meant simplicity of lifestyle has returned. We have learned to ‘make do and mend’, to repair things, to go without.
We have also learned to be resourceful, resilient, and have turned to our trusted bubbles for solace. This means, on one level, we have got to know ourselves better and how to care for our well-being during this crisis.
Hence the surge in online exercise and dancing, the increase in DIY projects, the baking and bread making, and the veggies growing on the front lawn.
This does not minimise the fact that many people have suffered anguish due to restrictions and have found the isolation hard. But even there, the generous help of neighbours, strangers and/or food banks has ameliorated some suffering.
However, people have got tired of being enslaved to others’ timetables and demands, so the new home-working, home-centred living, means many of us will not now want to spend hours on motorways or unreliable public transport, rushing around.
We are wanting more. We are wanting better. We have also learned we need to stop, to breathe, to listen, to rest, to recover, to put ourselves first. It’s what I call the ‘oxygen mask’ moment, when you realise you have to put it on yourself even before your loved ones, to survive (just like in good old plane travel).
During the first three months of the pandemic I was commissioned to write three self-care books: Two Minutes’ Peace, Two Minutes’ Confidence and Two Minutes’ Sleep by Quercus books. These came out in August 2020, and have been hitting the spot for many who have felt burnt out and challenged.
As we emerge, blinking into our post-pandemic world, many of us are going to have to continue to take our breaks, stay in touch with ourselves, and look after our well-being. The books are designed to help you do this, 2 minutes at a time.
When I teach people to meditate or be mindful, they always say ‘I haven’t got time for that’. But we can all find 2 minutes: on the loo, in the car, lying on the floor, on a chair, in the garden.
Just to stop, to be, to breathe, to see, to connect.
We need to take our new-found skills with us as we navigate what may well be some bumpy months ahead. Being able to stop for 2 minutes to recharge regularly throughout the day is certainly a great place to start.
You can book tickets for my webinar on 13 May at https://oundlelitfest.org.uk/events/corinne-sweet-everyday-self-care-for-busy-lives-series/.