Duvet days are okay too

I’d love to be able to say that I haven’t written for so long, because I’ve been smashing through life, getting out for those daily walks and making the most of every day. Instead, I’ve just been getting by.

I am counting down the days until that first weekend when the rules in England change to allow enough flexibility for Dave and I to drive over and see family and friends in Essex. From a socially acceptable distance, of course. Outside.

We’ll pack the car up with enough stuff to cover us just in case we decide to camp out in someone’s garden and we’ll get our road trip playlist playing at top volume for the first time in ages. I’m imagining it’ll be sunny and we’ll both be wearing sunglasses and will have the windows wound down. It’ll probably rain, in which case we’ll be wearing waterproofs and arming ourselves with umbrellas.

Every day I’m faced with different emotions. Days like today I feel perky and positive and creative and like everything is going to be okay. Some days I feel the total opposite and find myself hiding under my duvet until the last possible minute, before having a quick shower and logging into work.

Honestly? I’m living a lazy lock down life. Like I say, I’m snoozing my alarm about 10 times every morning and logging into work for 10, just. I’m getting the odd virtual pilates or yoga class in here and there and I probably go for a walk about once a week. I’m actually cooking healthy dinners (I’m basically a pro-chef since I started ordering Hello Fresh boxes), but I’m eating rubbish all day (I’ve even started putting sugar on my cereal – I feel like it all goes downhill from here). I’m working 10-6, Monday to Friday, but not doing much else. (Okay, not entirely true – I have been shopping for kittens and cars in my spare time – eeeeee) This morning I actually said the words ‘let’s put the weekend flat clean off until tomorrow’, choosing to ignore the washing up on the side (those of you who know me will find this shocking – Only took me a whole year in lock down to learn to chill.)

The way I see it, I’m chilling now while I’ve got the chance. Time will fly and before long we’ll be filling weekends with plans, setting 6am alarms, running late always, running out of clean clothes most weeks and feeling like we never have enough time for ourselves.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait. Until that day, I’ll be here in my comfy clothes, eating mini eggs and watching Heartland. Not long now.

This is not easy

Just thought I’d pop up today to point out the obvious – Christmas is not going to be as planned and whether you’re directly affected by the changes announced yesterday or not, the news we’re now hearing is not easy to receive.

At the end of a year when we’re all feeling lonely, tired and mentally exhausted and many of us heartbroken after the loss of loved ones or fearful for loved ones who are unwell, we’ve just been told things are worse than ever out there. We’re being told to stay home as much as possible and we’re being told that, at a time when we would usually be seeing as many family members and friends as humanely possible, we should be seeing very few, in some cases none at all.

So, I don’t know who needs to hear it, but this is not easy. Cut yourself some slack.

Firstly, today put ‘watch upbeat, cheerful film’ on your to-do list. Writing a to-do list is a very helpful way of taking control back and of giving yourself something to work towards, something you can pat yourself on the back for having achieved at the end of the day. Today, try and put stuff on the to-do list that you actually want to do. Add ‘read a book’ to your to-do list so that you can reward yourself for just having done that. On days like today, anything you choose to do other than sitting staring at the wall is an achievement – It’s not easy to do the things you enjoy when you’re feeling blue.

Get outside today. Whether you want to or not, once you’re out and about you’ll feel so much better. Remember that you are not trapped in your home. You are allowed to walk about, run about, exercise outside as much as you want to and being outside is so good for your mental health. Take advantage of the freedom you do have.

Reach out to loved ones and friends today. Let them know you’re there (to all my family and friends reading, please please pick up the phone if you need). Also go to family members and friends today, even if you don’t feel like talking. A phone call can solve a multitude of things, even if you go into a conversation not exactly sure what you want or need to get out of it. I know from experience that rambling onto a willing person over the phone can allow you to let go of emotions you weren’t even sure how to process by yourself.

All of that said, if you feel like doing nothing at all do that instead and do not feel guilty for it either. Watch a film, don’t watch a film. Read a book, don’t read a book. Get outside, don’t get outside. Do whatever you need to today to make yourself feel better. This is far from easy, but you’re not alone.

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The New Normal

When this all began, there was so much talk about the strain on all of us. Everyone was talking about how we had to accept that our mental health might take a dip and a dive and that it was okay to feel anxious or down. No-one expected too much and we all filled our lives in any way we could. We took each day as it came.

Some people took to arts and crafts, baking or exercise. Others took up online courses and extra projects. Some just caught up on much needed sleep.

Now, life’s gradually returning to a new kind of normal and if you’re anything like me, you’re suddenly convinced you should somehow feel normal again yourself. Like it’s a switch we can flick on when life gets challenging and off again when things get better.

Here’s the thing – I still feel sad and tired, all the time. I’m missing my life before Covid-19, but I’m struggling to accept how far off a return to that exact way of life really is. I feel like stubborn teenager, sticking my heels in and adamantly waiting until things go precisely my way. I don’t want to settle for half-normal.

I’m looking at pictures of friends filling their diaries up with plans and getting out and about. I’m watching people at work throw themselves into planning for the next few months at home (because this working from home thing seems like it’s here to stay). I’m seeing people embrace the gradual relaxing of the rules and head back to beaches and shops. And I’m doing the most unhealthy thing I could do:

I’m directly comparing how I’m doing to how everyone else seems to be doing. I’m convincing myself that everyone else is fine and that I should be too. I feel like I should be full steam ahead back into work and socialising and my old routine and everything else that comes with it. It’s like I’ve decided Covid-19 isn’t a justifiable reason to feel ‘not quite right’ anymore.

Soon, I’ll probably find I do start making plans and accepting the new normal. I’ll ease into it over the next few weeks and before long, I’m sure I’ll start to feel myself embrace the way things have to be. But there’s no pressure or rush to do so – It’s only me putting that pressure on me. Which is no-doubt just making me more tired than I already am.

So, for anyone else who needs to hear it: It’s okay, to still not be okay. We’re still living through a global pandemic. And if anything, this strange return to a new kind of normal is likely to be the most mentally challenging part of the whole thing. Don’t put any additional pressure on yourself!

Breathe, cut yourself some slack and still feel free to take each day as it comes. You’ve got this.

Is it just me?

Or have things just got that little bit harder?

Honestly? I caught myself thinking really negatively when looking at myself in the mirror this morning and it was that which turned my thoughts to the idea of blogging again. I have seen a few social media posts dedicated to positive body image, but the majority of stuff I’m seeing online suggests that I should be running and doing yoga and that my tummy should look better than ever right now.

In fact, my tummy is growing, because of all the time spent indoors. I don’t think I’m eating particularly unhealthily, but I’m definitely not getting as much exercise as I usually would.  My skin is clearer, because I’m not wearing makeup and I’ve caught a bit of a tan from time spent out in the sunshine, but all I can see when I look in the mirror is my chunkier waist line and the rolls under my, now tighter, jeans.

I refuse to feel sucky about it anymore and I hope if you’re reading this and empathising then you can start being a little less hard on yourself from here on in too. Yes, I really do want to try doing some yoga with Adrienne and some virtual workouts, but the truth of the matter is that, right now just getting to the supermarket feels like a challenge.

(I told myself that I’d get our essential grocery shop done today, but not only do I feel terrified at the thought of facing the outside world, but my car won’t start either.)

As well as working out, there are lots of things I need to do that I know for a fact would make me feel better: The bathroom needs a clean again, we have piles of clean clothes to put away, the whole house needs a good hoover. But I simply can’t seem to kick myself into action.

On top of feeling bad about that, I wake up every morning in a panic about who I need to check in with. I realised this morning that I haven’t spoken to my brother or sister in ages now and that it is one of my best friend’s birthdays today, but that I haven’t spoken to him since this all started. I am so ridiculously grateful for all of my wonderful family and friends, but I’m finding it hard, because I don’t think I’ll ever feel like I’ve checked in with everyone enough.

And then on top of all of that, I feel super guilty for feeling so down and being so lazy when I think of all of the brave key workers out there facing this whole situation head on, many of them separated from family and friends, without time to even consider yoga or hoovering.

Writing ‘I just don’t feel right’ was so rewarding and I’m glad I decided to write again. This post has helped in a different kind of way. Here’s hoping someone in the same boat feels better for reading it too. Somehow writing it all out like that has left me finally feeling like today is doable.

I’ll ask Dave to take me to the shop, but I still want to do it myself because conquering that fear can only be a good thing. And I’ll stop with the negativity. Hey! Maybe I’ll even put some clean clothes away.

I just don’t feel right

This will be my third try at a blog post. I’ve been trying and failing to write over the last few weeks: I had this grand idea that I’d start writing daily throughout this global pandemic. I was going to call the chapter ‘A blog a day to keep the blues at bay‘. But every time I put pen to paper (or started typing, but that doesn’t sound anywhere near as romantic does it?) I was unhappy with what came out.

I guess I wanted to try and write truthfully about how this time is making me feel, to get it off my own chest, but also in the hope that it might help someone somewhere to read that this time’s got us all feeling a bit out of sorts. If you’re feeling odd and mentally vulnerable, you’re not alone, I promise.

But whenever I tried writing I found myself trying too hard to cover all bases: To reiterate that I know there are people who this pandemic is affecting in worse ways than I can even imagine and that I know how lucky I am. And I am lucky. I’m so grateful for this beautiful, safe house and garden and the fact I can work from home and that my work is so fulfilling and that I have amazing family and friends…

I just don’t feel quite myself. My shoulders are constantly tense and my jaw too. I find myself sighing all the time and every day just feels like a bit of an uphill struggle. I’m trying so hard to be positive, but I just feel a bit down in the dumps.

I miss myself. All this time indoors is giving me heaps of thinking time and that’s what I’ve realised. I’m missing old me. I keep thinking that a younger, ‘funner’ Bronwen would have done better in this situation.

But I’m always looking back and always wanting to go back to being the person I was and today the penny has finally dropped: Looking backwards isn’t doing me any good…

When I was at university, I missed the care-free girl I left behind in Chelmsford, who loved her high school boyfriend to pieces and spent all her time singing. Nowadays, I miss University me, who wrote fun blogs and could stay up late and was more up for a good time. I bet some day, I’ll miss this me. Whoever this me is. And I’ll kick myself for all the time I spent dwelling on how a previous version of myself would have handled things. 

Yes, I’m more tired nowadays and a bit more careful, but I don’t worry any less that’s for sure. I can try and tell myself that I used to be care-free all I want, but really I’ve always been a worrier.

And so I guess it’s no wonder Covid-19 has got me feeling a bit iffy. If anything, I’d expect to be less calm than I am. I’m still getting up every day, showering, brushing my teeth and getting dressed. I’m still eating plenty and getting out for walks and staying in touch with family and friends.

Let’s cut ourselves some slack during this time. It’s so hard when we’re constantly exposed to perfect images of how everyone else is handing things, but I for one need to remember that I’m doing okay doing what I’m doing. There is no right way to deal with a worldwide pandemic, we’re all figuring this out one day at a time. AND I’m just Bronwen. Not past Bronwen, not present Bronwen, not future Bronwen, just me. Still me… Just a little older and maybe actually a little wiser too?