How are you all doing? The news seems to go from bad to worse, it’s not just scary but outright frightening. To forget about everything, we’ve been losing ourselves in the garden, self contained in our own little world and we’ve only ventured out to the shops just the once, as I wrote on Sunday. Certain supplies are running low though, most notably flour, I’ve been making bread every day and with three hungry teenagers at home it doesn’t go very far! So another trip is going to be called for this weekend, but that’s fine; that is what we planned, one time per week.
We are really lucky, and although we have three of our children here, I cannot tell you how much I wish the two eldest girls were at home too. We have the dogs, our two cats, chickens, ducks – all help to enjoy our quarantine time and with so many to take care of we have enough on our plate before we even talk about the great outdoors!
But I know full well that there are so many people that are not so fortunate, and human nature also varies very much from person to person. We all handle a crisis in different ways. And for some people this current situation is far more stressful than it is for others. While some people remain calm, others panic; when some face danger with a very British stiff upper lip, others crumble. There’s nothing wrong with feeling scared and there’s nothing wrong with admitting it either, but its always best to talk.
So whilst I’ve been toiling away in the potager with the help of Roddy and the children, with the warm sun on my back as I break up the clods of winter soil, rubbing it between my fingers, planting, planning, digging and weeding – I’ve been thinking of ways I could help anyone feeling a little off kilter about the whole situation. Most of you are probably way ahead of me on this front and have thought of all of these and a whole lot more, but if I can help just one person who is feeling down, struggling to cope with the reality of coronavirus, then that’s a start.
Many of us have suddenly found ourselves with extra time on our hands and whilst I think relaxing is a great thing I also know that keeping active is also important. So these are my tips for what they’re worth.
- If you have an outdoor space, then garden, garden and garden some more. Even if you only have a few pots on a windowsill or balcony, still touch the soil and tend your plants
- and if its snowing and spring has not yet sprung in your part of the world, start planning. Get lost in Instagram where there are so many stunning ideas, read gardening books, sketch out your ideas on a piece of paper, and if you’re approaching winter then plan for spring next year!
- Mix up the daily routine. If the weather allows, have a picnic or just eat a sandwich on the lawn, somewhere you wouldn’t normally go.
- Have breakfast outside. Or if like us you always dine around the kitchen table talking, do something different; bake pizza and watch a movie together eating in front of the television. It’s all about change.
- Don’t get into a rut. It’s easy to think things don’t matter with no one visiting, but keep things going for yourself, I find nothing puts me in better spirits than a tidy house with everything where it should be.
- Once you’ve tidied, then have a good clean! I always say I can cope in a crisis if everything is organised and neat and orderly. And I have no idea why I had 5 children as I hate mess and ‘stuff’ all over the place (but I’ve got used to it!!) At the weekend, I washed both cars by hand. The next day when they were dry I took out the car wax and polished both. It’s maybe the first time in several years that I have done this! Then the interiors got the full treatment too, a good vacuum, windows, everything. Now the two vehicles sit unused in the garage but at least they are gleaming; the fact that I don’t recognise them is another matter! But when I walk past they make me happy!
- Clear out cupboards, line drawers with pretty paper and if you don’t have any paper to hand, use old magazines.
- Keep the mind active; read, make a list of all the things you have wanted to do but never have the time to do (or maybe things you have started that then got put to one side, unfinished). I know I am certainly guilty of this one. Write them down and plan to complete them all.
- On the same lines as the idea above, start an entirely fresh project.
- Make a goal to learn something new; our youngest daughter, Gigi, is teaching herself to do the ‘splits’. Ok, so we don’t have to go that far (we need to stay away from hospitals not end up in them if possible!), but think of something you might be able to learn – playing the guitar, make French patisserie (not one of my skills, I just cut roses from the garden instead for decoration!), or learn a little of a new language. Maybe take down one of those cookbooks you’ve bought or been given and never really read and experiment with a new style of cooking – Thai, vegetarian, the choices are endless. Whatever you choose, make it a 30 day challenge to give you some impetus.
- Think of one person in need, outside of your normal group of friends and family, who might appreciate a daily phone call or messaging. A bit like finding a new pen-pal.
- If you can get outside, even onto a balcony, do so as much as possible out there as fresh air and sunshine (when the sun is shining for that all important vitamin D) really do help lift the spirits. At the very least sit by an open window and let the light fill your shadows and touch your face.
- Research has proven that Vitamin D can help reduce our likelihood of developing flu and that it might play an important role in regulating mood and warding off depression.
- Don’t watch the news or read non-stop about coronavirus just before going to bed. Give your brain a chance to unwind, watch a ‘feel-good’ movie, or read a good book, laugh with the family and play a game, anything so you go to bed in a cheerful positive mood – it will help you sleep so much better. Trust me, I have learnt this the hard way. I’ve decided to switch off completely from reality for a couple of hours before my head hits the pillow.
- Above all else remain positive. Smile, even if it is to yourself, even if you are alone; you’ll find it’s amazing how much a smile lifts the spirits. It is proven that smiling relaxes us.
- And finally, take some time for yourself. If you have some extra moments, relax in a long hot bath brimming with bubbles. Read or reread you favourite magazine either by the warmth of the fire or on a comfy chair outside; don’t feel guilty about it – enjoy it! Happier times when we are all together will come again. Stay Safe xx
To my girls not with us xxx