Small tasks, busy mind.

I was half tempted this week to temporarily change the title of my blog to My Indoor Living Room, but realised that this is a nightmare to do, and also that the indoor living room is exactly what I’m trying to escape. I read a very interesting post on social media by one of the few famous people I take seriously enough to respect, and he talked about making choices during lockdown as well as life in general, choosing to do what you should do as opposed to what you feel like doing. So, think of the dilemma of setting your alarm for a 5am run. Then the alarm goes off and the urge to hit snooze is overwhelming. He used a phrase about choosing to meditate than to contaminate his mind with nonsense from social media, the internet in general, and this blog of course. Just read to the end of this post though, and I promise there’ll be a meme of a cat. It made me think about what I’m doing during all this to cope, so I wanted to share a few things that are keeping me going. There have been some incredibly tough moments, mainly to do with my situation and my mental health has taken a few beatings in the past month, so I naturally do what I have trained myself to do – I make an island of myself. I find activities for me to do to keep my head above water. A well known saying that goes something like, “A drowning man cannot save another man from drowning”, dispelling theories of selfish behaviour to a degree. So in order to be all that I can be for others, I need to take care of myself for a while. The world seems to spin fine without me, and most people seem just as happy with me out of the way, so I just focus on finding a place within myself.

One way I do this is setting myself small challenges. Right at this moment in time, I have (mostly physical) challenges going on like seeing how fast I can sprint up a hill I’ve found. Or seeing if I can complete a song doing push ups throughout, seeing if I can complete different fitness tests, and also seeing how low I can get my resting heart rate. I’m also closely monitoring the progress of an oak tree sapling in the garden, and the speed of the decomposition of my compost heap. It’s safe to say I’m busy with lots of things. But lots of little things help me stay on track and stay occupied.

Whilst lockdown has presented problems as well as opportunities to  improve areas of my life, I have generally fared better than the daily grind of commuting and stultifying office environments. It’s made me seriously think about my future, the people I work for (and question their ethics), and showed me hope that something alternative exists.

I do hope that you are all well and coping. I also hope that when we come out of this, all of the promises about the future and regrets about the past that I am seeing on social media are followed through and are not just empty hashtags. This really is an opportunity.

The COVID-19 Effort.

I think it’s safe to say that we are living in a testing time at the moment. Comparisons are being made to World War 2 in all sorts of places – about how people did what they could, made a difference, and stuck it out. The War Effort. It played on my mind a couple of weekends ago when I was out for a run at the same time that I would normally be doing a ParkRun, so I devised a cunning plan during that run to use social media to attract my ParkRun friends (and hopefully their friends, and their friends etc, even non-runners) to a virtual 5k run that I would host every Saturday morning until things are back to normal. I realised that, as noted in my last post, I am happy to be a lone runner, but some people need that sense of camaraderie and togetherness to help them run, and indeed enjoy running. Well I set it up and it is going OK, it gives us something to do, and I’m glad I’ve done it. It is my COVID-19 Effort, or part of it. What sort of ambassador of well-being, fitness and the outdoors would I be if I wasn’t trying something to help people stay fit, healthy, sane and motivated at a time of national crisis?

It’s interesting how in my job, I find the office environment very draining and it usually leaves me feeling bereft in many ways, but working from home, especially the first week, I have found to be very liberating. I am doing exactly the same job, same hours, but without being surrounded by so many things that breed negativity. In a bizarre paradox however, my employers I feel have spotted this ‘lack of motivation’ they call it, and it has surfaced at my many one-to-ones and end of year reviews. They are keen to discover what it is about me that keeps me ticking. Unfortunately for them, the many things that get me motivated are the polar opposite of what they are paying me to do. A few posts ago I talked if how I was politely forced into giving a talk to my team about well-being in the office (my subject choice, not theirs), and how it went. The feedback from that session was overwhelming positive, and many people expressed an interest in seeing more of that side of me. Take the stage COVID-19, and home working. My team have turned to me to lead meditation and mindfulness sessions once a week. I have done one already and now the next session is being made available to the national team. Pardon the distasteful pun, but I’ve gone viral it seems. But I do find it strange to observe that a few weeks ago, the situation that practically had me disengaged, disinterested, looking for the exit, has now filled me with purpose. I’m also now providing home work out ideas for them too. I’m definitely trying to make the negative of this situation into a positive.

I hope all of you are well, and I mean this sincerely (also because I know how unpopular this blog is), reach out to me if there’s anything you need. This is a testing time and it’s showing little signs of returning to normal soon, so drop me a line if you need support in any way, unless it’s to get you a loaf of bread.

Smile, breathe, and go slowly.