Every week, we catch up together as a Gather gang via Zoom. This alternates each week between a Friday night virtual wine o'clock and a Saturday morning cuppa catch up. We keep it to an hour, to respect the amount of screen time a lot of us are engaging with at the moment and pin a loose theme to each catch-up to help give it some structure.
Last night, we hosted a wine o'clock, themed around wellbeing - what are we each doing to to stay 'well', what would we like to try to better curate wellness and what things in particular are totally killing our mindful vibe at the moment?
I am turning last night's discussion into a short journal post based upon some of the salient points raised because the thoughts and ideas that the attendees brought forward were considered, thought provoking and unique to each's circumstances. This was hands down one of the most relaxing and heartening virtual events I have personally attended! So here we go.
What things are you doing to foster personal wellbeing from home?
Mat time: yoga, pilates, breathing exercises in order to connect our physical with our mental being and vice versa.
Writing down the day, the date and a small achievable to-do list each day. You might find teux-deux a helpful tool for this.
Meal planning for the week - for the planners amongst you that have little control over the short term, this is a great way to put your planning prowess to use.
Booking (refundable) holidays in the future so as to have something to look forward to.
Bullet journalling (or rapid logging) to help the multi-taskers get through the day. Here's looking at you working parents/carers/go-getters. Also using this as a reference to look back on in time - how did we cope and what did we do day to day in the year that was 2020?
Playing music and learning ukelele. (Anyone else think we need a post-quarantine live uke session to see how you all got on with kum-ba-yah??)
Exercise! Whether it's targeting a goal or doing it for the sake of keeping moving, there are so many online resources available to us at the moment. In fact, we have another journal post dedicated to just this in the works. Eyes peeled...
A 45-minute morning walk either silently or listening to a devotional. Some have shuffled their working day to prioritise getting this in first otherwise, they find it simply won't happen at the end of the day.
30-minute daily meditation either to music or a guided app.
Still taking booked leave from work even though from home, to make sure you're getting some real down time and relaxation - for those who have brought the office home, boundaries can be hard to keep in place! So there is strong advocacy for taking that booked leave and unplugging if you can.
What is killing your mindfulness vibe at the moment?
Lack of routine. Some of us really need structure to our day and, at the moment, that can be difficult to find. Some of the above items may help with this.
Finding it difficult to stop work and make a clear distinction between time on the clock and time for ourselves. If setting an alarm helps, do it. If letting a friend know that it's your intention to stop work at 6pm, have them send you a text to check in at 6:05pm and keep you accountable! There will always be more work to do but your capacity for work is not infinite without restorative 'you time'.
The productivity vibe. There is a lot of content on social media encouraging us to use this period to sculpt or curate the best version of ourselves yet. For some this may be helpful and empowering, for others it is overwhelming. If you're in Camp B like many of us, these messages aren't for you. This is a global pandemic - not a time to feel guilty that you aren't chiselled like Tia-Clair Toomey or on your way to a Paul Hollywood handshake for that sourdough. If you have the means and capacity to follow through on that personal project that you have always dreamed of completing, then all power to you! (And keep us posted, we'd love to hear about it). But be kind to your comrades who are keeping their heads above water.
The Home School Olympics. The internet is a melting pot, alive with inspiration and innovative home projects for all those parents who are dipping into home schooling -perhaps for the first time. But think twice before sending your mum friend that link on helping their child be a super star physicist. Sometimes getting the kids out of their pyjamas is a victory in itself - and that is OK! Equally, parents, this is not a competition - no one is judging you but you (and if they are, they can sod off). Be kind to yourself and get through a day at a time, your way.
The unequal burden of being a mother or carer and a full-time employee. This discussion is not new - the disproportionate level of responsibility that many mothers and carers undertake in comparison to their male colleagues (and quite often for a fraction of the salary) is playing out for many in heightened or brand new fashion during Covid-19. For those who have retained jobs and are also taking care of others in the household, the balance and struggle is real. Annie Auerbach wrote a book called, Flex, that touches on some of the high level conversations you could be having at home to help balance out the home turf responsibilities to better foster working flexibility for women - this short read may be of interest to some. Research founded, Invisible Women, by Caroline Criado Perez is also a powerful insight to the systemic discrimination of women in modern society. If you don't feel this applies to you, then I would implore you to read it so at the very least, we, as an allied womanhood have an awareness of many women's realities. Many of these issues are being augmented during Covid-19 isolation and imagine if we could leverage this time for constructive conversation and change. And if you're still not convinced, you might fancy a little watch of comedian and political commentator, Samantha Bee's take on Covid-19's impact on american women (language warning) - much of which translates across the pond.
Has your attitude to Social Media engagement changed during isolation?
Many of us are spending increased time on social media as a means of connecting with each other from a distance but many have a love-hate relationship with the medium. So we posed the question, how are you all dealing with social media in this time? The results were mixed!
Less engaged with social media and using video calling much more as a means to connect.
Less interested as the content has significantly narrowed - fitness, cats, baking and Zoom selfies!
Some have limited or changed who they follow, so that they have a feed they find helpful or inspiring, relevant to their current circumstances.
There was a discussion regarding the extent of power we have in curating our personal social media feeds (i.e. what we are taking in, not just what we are putting out there) in a way that balances optimism with realism, cutting out those voices who feed into the productivity dialogue without sensitivity to the context of grief and anxiety that many are feeling.
On the whole, there was unanimous sentiment that we are craving content that helps us to feel hopeful about the not too distant future (influencers, take note).
What is one thing you will commit to this week for the sake of your wellbeing?
Taking a real lunch break.
Practicing mindfulness to help quiet the mind.
Finishing work on time.
Taking Easter break as a real break.
Encouraging family discipline with a clear set of agreed targets, for mum's wellbeing!
Using an achievable to-do list to help slow down and focus effort.
Going for a morning walk every day.
So we return to our opening question, how well are you doing? Acknowledging that there is no universal yardstick for personal wellbeing but rather, being well is in our response and commitment to personally helpful practices and open minds. Thus the question really is, are you doing well? And if the answer is, I could be more well, what is one change or practice that you'll commit to this week in support of your wellbeing?
We'd love to hear more from you, drop your thoughts in the comments.
Need to chat?
Don't forget that we have a small response team of volunteers that have banded together to connect with you one-on-one if you're in need of a chat during this time. Your request will be treated confidentially and you'll be paired up with one of our community for some one-on-one conversation. You can reach out to us here.