It has been 13 weeks to the day since I started teaching from home due to the Coronavirus outbreak. At first, I’ll be honest, it was actually quite nice. I was building a really positive relationship with parents, talking to them more about their children’s work than I usually would be able to. I actually had time to eat a proper lunch every day, and could do some of those jobs that usually wouldn’t even get a look in during term time. My house was pretty tidy for once!
However, over the last few weeks I have struggled much more than I thought I would. My once good routine has vanished and left me feeling anxious and worried at just random times. Got to make the builders a cup of tea? Scared. Got to zoom my class? Worried. Got to write reports? Stressed. I found myself unconsciously skipping meals and just moving from one seat to another in the house, taking my work laptop with me to every room I moved into. Every food shopping trip each week or fortnight left me feeling anxious, particularly when the majority of shoppers are now completely ignorant to the 2m rule, as well as the arrows that indicate the one way system down each aisle. Other than getting up, setting work and checking my laptop for messages every 5 minutes, wanting to be the best ‘long distance’ teacher I can be, my days just felt so empty and monotonous. What’s worse is, I didn’t even feel like I wanted to do anything at all, which for a busy body like me was something I was just not used to.
It took me one really down day this week to realise that I had to start looking after myself better. I am so fortunate in that I have never really struggled with my mental health before, so I didn’t really know where to begin to help pick myself back up again. I just started off simple and made a list of things that I enjoy doing, that give me a clear headspace and help me to relax. I hope they might be of some use to you, if you are struggling too.
Pinterest really helps me to look forward to life post-lockdown. I have always used it to get inspiration for different projects, and as we are currently extending our house, I like taking the time to get ideas for each room. I have also been getting ideas for how to set up my classroom for next year, which will include lots of lovely role play areas that I can get really creative with! There is something so therapeutic about making boards for different areas of my life, making me feel like I’ve got a handle on them and that I am ahead of the game.
See family from a distance
I am so lucky in that I live just down the road from some of my family members, my parents and one of my sisters included, so I can sit at a distance with them in the garden. It just feels nice to talk with people about normal things and share how we are feeling about the situation, if we want to. It is my Dad’s 60th birthday tomorrow and I’m really fortunate that I will be able to see him and give him a present, which I know is something that many people aren’t able to do if they live further away from one another. For those family members that are a little further afield, Houseparty and Zoom have also been great at helping us keep in contact. Houseparty has some really fun games you can play too!
Go for a walk
I was SO GOOD at walking every day when lockdown first came on the scene. However, over the last few weeks I just haven’t been able to bring myself to get out. I am really trying to make myself leave the house more, and walking through fields and along quiet roads is so calming and helps me to feel peaceful. I make sure that I have turned phone notifications off too, so I am away from a screen for an hour of the day at least. I also try to walk to different places so there is always something new to see.
Write it down
Whether it’s in a blog post, a diary or just a note on your phone, get out how you are feeling. I often prefer writing things down than talking about it, and that has definitely helped me recently. I also like to make a list of things I am looking forward to once things become a little more ‘normal’. This is on my phone and is nice to add to whenever I think of something I am missing, and also great just to read from time to time, to remind me that this situation will come to an end eventually. I am considering starting a bullet journal soon, so please let me know if you have any advice on this or any of your own blog posts to share to help me get started!
Play a game
Board games or video games, both are such great ways to chill for a bit and forget about everything else. Animal Crossing has been great for me over the last few weeks, it’s so relaxing to play and just takes my mind off ‘real life’ for a bit! I also love The Sims and this is great escapism too. However sometimes I need something a bit more angry to play, and Apex Legends fits the bill perfectly. Me and my husband also love to play Bananagrams, Rummikub and Risk, all different but great board games that require a fair bit of concentration!
I was initially really apprehensive about this post, thinking that no one wants to read anything about my struggles over the last few week, but getting it all out on here has made me feel so much…lighter. Anyone who might be feeling the same, I urge you to get it all down on paper or talk to someone about it, I think we are all in the same boat and have these feelings more than we sometimes care to let on. If I have learned anything from the writing community so far, it is just how supportive everyone is of one another. If anyone needs to talk about their struggles with anxiety during this strange, strange period, please comment or message me on Twitter or Instagram. We will get through this together.
Take care and much love,
Eliza Kate xxx