Happy October, everyone!
Back in May, I wrote a similar post after COVID-19 and lockdown had first hit. It’s been a few months since that post and quite honestly, it’s all been a huge blur since then.
Today I wanted to take the time to write a reflection piece on how I’ve been doing, mostly for me but I also encourage you to do the same.
Working from Home
I’ve been feeling quite positive about the new approach to remote working. Every day it seems like a new company has decided that a more flexible approach to work has it’s benefits and are willing to make structural changes moving forward. I have to say – I’m excited by it and totally see that as progress!
There are some weeks my motivation levels vary and quite recently, that feeling of dread over everything going on in the world has returned that makes me crave human interaction outside a screen.
Although I see my colleagues mostly every day on video calls, I still miss being around them. I notice that the longer I don’t go outside (which is easy now that we’re fast approaching winter), the more my motivation levels drop and that feeling of dread builds up. I have identified this and enforcing steps to combat it. Like, I’m going outside as much as I can even if the weather is terrible…it’s working!
Overall, I’m still all for flexible working because of several different factors. The main one being that the idea of working a set number of hours in an open-plan office is slowly crumbling. Ever since I was a student, I never liked the rigid approach to work that was described to me so seeing a more flexible approach is such a positive step in the right direction.
My attitude towards forcing myself to sit at my desk all day has changed too. Whenever the sun is shining through my balcony or I feel mentally overwhelmed, I’ve empowered myself to just walk away from it all. Go, me! 😊
As well as this, there have been some changes that I’ve been going through which are still quite ‘fresh‘ so for now, I’m going to leave that for a future post.
Connecting with Community
Another positive of being remote has been the opportunity that I’ve had to attend various events within the Women in Tech community. Over the last month alone, I was able to participate in as well as speak at several community events that I would’ve had to spend half a day travelling for if we were in normal circumstances.
Of course, I miss conferences and meet-ups! I miss the free food, free swag, hugs catching up with people and meeting new people quite easily. But I also love knowing that I can just jump on a video call and deliver a message that I believe in without leaving my apartment.
I recently applied to speak at an international conference and got through! It would’ve been awesome to travel there but it’s equally awesome that I don’t have to and can speak from home.
Connecting with the communities I care about during this time has been vital for my well-being. I’m glad that I’ve spared energy to focus on it whilst we are at such a crazy time. 😊
Once lockdown was lifted in the summer, I jumped on the chance to see my family. The last time I saw them was in March even though I had promised to see them again the following weekend, lockdown happened and I was stuck in Leeds.
I managed to spend a good month with them in Sheffield which was – out of all the months this year – the best month of all. Because being at home always gives me that sense of comfort, my stress and anxiety just melted away. It’s also always different when I’m around them – I feel more confident and happy. I guess familiarity really gives you that.
Another plus of WFH is that I could spend the whole month with them as I continued working flexibly from Sheffield.
I’m trying my best to get back home this month and again in December to help ease my anxieties of, well, everything right now!
I’ve said this before in other posts but I’ve saved quite a bit of money compared to last year.
My biggest spending last year? Travel and going out to eat. Matt and I decided that travel is completely scrapped this year although I have never needed a getaway more than ever. Whenever it is safe to enjoy travelling rather than be ridiculously anxious over the process, you’ll know I’ll be out and about exploring again.
We still treat ourselves to a takeaway here and there to break up cooking all the time. We have also eaten out twice since lockdown was lifted, but each time, it was an uncomfortable experience that filled us with paranoia. Although having a variety of food was great, I don’t think the anxieties afterwards was worth it. 😂
In my May post, I wrote about how retail therapy was something that I did a lot of at the start of lockdown. It has continued in the following months since, but not at the same rate 😬
Matt and I moved at the end of June to a new apartment and that process always inspires us both to decorate our new space with new things. For example, we now have a balcony which we got loads of outdoor items. With that said, I don’t regret what we’ve purchased – they have all added value in some way even if it is just small bursts of happiness when I glance over (I’m specifically talking about my Palm plant here, you know how it is.)
I’ve tried to be more mindful with my purchases, adhering to the one in, one out rule as much as I can to avoid build-up of clutter. Over the past month or so, my purchases have now been focused on comfort. I replaced some of the old clothes that I have clearly overworn since lockdown began. Comfort levels have upgraded and I feel good about it 🧘🏻♀️
My biggest spending this year? Groceries and home stuff.
When I was back at home, I saved the most because I didn’t feel the need to go and do retail therapy because my family kept me distracted from that feeling of impending doom. 😂
Our apartment’s gym re-opened recently along with the new Government’s guidelines a few months ago.
I was excited to give it a go! I’ve missed the gym environment as well as having barbells for certain exercises. Luckily when I spent the month in Sheffield, I used my dad’s home gym which had almost everything I would use at a regular gym. A month of having a barbell changed my life for sure. 😂 I considered buying a set for my little home gym set-up but I know that my dumbbells work for most of what I need anyway. It is just preference, I guess.
I went to our apartment gym but decided that it was too anxiety-inducing being around so many people breathing heavily in such a small space. After my first workout there, I continued my workouts at home.
Over the past few months, I’ve enjoyed switching up my workouts by trying out Stephanie Buttermore’s Home Workout Guides as well as adding an extra variety of home yoga and HIIT. I’ve noticed that I’m slowly getting better at all the different yoga positions! Most of my strength has improved in my upper body and I’m feeling most happy about progression with my pull-ups.
I’ve always enjoyed working out at home (that’s where I started!) but I have really fallen in love with it again. I can’t explain to you how awesome it has been to wake up, get my workout gear on and just start. 💪🏼 Re-connecting with my body has reminded me how much I’m capable of without the need for excess equipment.
Tackling my anxiety
It’s safe to say that I have not been as anxious as I have been this year since probably 2016. With bad news constantly being shoved down our throat, I have had several moments where it has been all too much. Countless breakdowns in month alone – and we’ve only just started October.
Being at home for a month reminded me of how it felt before I was constantly on edge, and I hung onto that feeling as much as I could whilst I was there. My family reminded me how far I’ve come since 2016.
So I’ve been proactively doing the same: reminding myself that I’ve been mentally training myself for the past 4 years since I began my self-care journey so… I can get through this even if it’s just day by day or hour by hour.
I’ve been tracking my mood on Youper and writing journal entries on my phone to reflect on my days. This has been a good way to get an indicator of what is helping me cope and keep me aware to help curb the upcoming feelings of overwhelm. Some things that have helped me:
- Meditation with Headspace
- Listening to my favourite podcasts
- Writing a blog post (like this one)
- Calling my family
- Calling a friend
- Hugging Matt
- Staying off social media
- Creating stuff that I enjoy (like Inspiring Figures or an upcoming podcast)
- Structure with an end goal e.g. like learning from a course. I’m currently doing #30DaysofCloud.
- Cleaning my apartment (and rearranging/decluttering)
- Taking a cold shower (lol, it helps!)
- Helping someone out
- Playing Animal Crossing
- Standing on the balcony when the sun is out to get sun in my eyes
- Reading a good book
Sometimes that is all too much. And what helps is crying and letting it all out – we just have to feel our emotions sometimes and that’s OK.
Writing this has been theraputic because it’s helped organise my thoughts better.
It has been more difficult for me over the last couple of months and I want to be honest about that. I was quite upbeat and optimistic about everything going on in the world, but I’m starting to feel the anxiety from March all over again (most of it has to be the dread of winter as well, so I guess that is normal 😬)
I’ve found that social media sees a lot of us just getting on with our days, thriving for some folks and that itself can be quite stressful. I know that I’ve found myself in certain loops where I’m like “Ugh, why do I feel terrible and anxious when everyone seems to be doing OK.” This is why it has been important for me to be honest on my IG stories and Twitter.
Life sucks for a lot of folks right now, we’re all struggling in our own ways and that’s OK. I hope that this has been a reminder that no matter what it may look like on a sparkly Instagram feed, we are going through a very strange time. I hope that is a much-needed reminder – something I need to tell myself quite a bit.
Obviously being doom and gloom sucks, but sometimes that reality check is needed. So it’s OK if you’re just getting by. I think we all are to an extent.
I hope that you’re all doing alright anyway. Maybe reading this helped you feel less alone or that it inspires you to write about how you’re feeling. Writing helps!
Stay safe, we’re all in this together and happy Spooky season. 🎃