There’s a gentle whirring sound in the corner of my room. A portable fridge now hums me to sleep as one of the small reminders that things aren’t normal right now. Sitting here in a farmhouse in the middle of a valley in Wales it’s easy to forget and ignore the fact that the world around us has changed beyond recognition in an event that will define our generation. The third world war of this century is currently waged upon a virus so small, 500 million of them could fit on the head of a pin. The world is ‘closed for business’ - hiding from an enemy we will never see.
Turn on the TV though and, in the flick of a switch, the light whirring of the fridge and the distant sound of birds outside are bought to an abrupt halt. Right now you can’t move through the virtual world without the bombardment of social media and news about COVD-19. Daily reminders of ‘soaring death rates’, the faces of the heroic teams sacrificing themselves to save others; complaints of neighbours filling up digital message boards remind us of the uneasy fear that radiates out of glass screens, seeping into our bedrooms.
My fridge is a small attempt to protect those I love against myself. Working as a pharmacist in communities around our region, I am desperately trying to balance a wish to protect my family with a need to do my job in this time of ‘unprecedented danger’. My first week I barely slept. My sporadic dreams were filled with apprehension, and my days much the same. My world shrunk to a room and a windowless pharmacy- both now filled with a stifling tension. Hanging in the air the feeling of fear, crushing my chest each morning as I wake, not a moment’s peace between breaths.
Each of you now faces a new challenge - many in fact. The feeling of having to face yourself, your mind and potentially your family in a daily routine that has stripped you of everything you thought you knew. Maybe you’ll find it peaceful, maybe rediscover your love of your partner and children in a deeper sense than you felt before, maybe you’ll just finally finish decorating the living room. But for others this strange time feels like being thrown into an ocean of uncertainty without a rescue boat in sight. Perhaps some will find themselves wiping away tears as they lie in bed. I know I have. Perhaps staring out of the window at a world that was you’ll question how you can ever make sense of this all. I’ve done that too.
I offer to you all today a simple way to start the day that has helped me survive this mental minefield, and I hope to share more of the tools that I know and will continue to learn along this unknown path. You and I – together, perhaps, together, we can discover moments of peace and even joy in our everyday life.
Whatever the outcome, one thing you can be sure of: This will change us. That is without question. But can we let it change is for the better? Can we learn to be kinder- to others to ourselves? Can we grow to have more patience? Learn to find beauty and curiosity again as we teach our children about the colors of the rainbow or biology of the cell? Perhaps.
Today I share with you my own personal routine; one which you can adapt, add to or even ignore. It is a simple offering to give you back the reins on at least part of your life. Maybe you’ve heard it a thousand times before. Maybe it’s a new perspective. Maybe I’m just here to remind you. Maybe you can offer it to a friend who is struggling and feels alone..
Making sense of it.
Nourish your senses first thing when you wake up
It might be impossible to escape the constant stream of media but at least choose when and how much you consume. Let the first things you expose your senses too be beautiful, kind and nourishing.
1. Keep your phone on airplane mode for the first 30 minutes/ 1 hour (if you can, even just 15 minutes can help!) and let that time be for YOU.
2. Start with a mug of warm water (a brilliant Ayurveda tip I found massively helps my energy levels!) then a drink that gives you that ahhh feeling. For me it’s a cuppa tea (hence the fridge and kettle in my room being absolutely essential).
3. Listen to beautiful music that makes you smile. Happy jazz, yoga tunes, acoustic classics; let it make your soul dance.
4. Meditate or have a gratitude ritual. For me I light a candle and start the day with thanks and set me intension for the day. A simple journal by your bed to scribble down thoughts, a thank you list or even to write down your priorities can help if you’re missing structure or need to get out of your head.
5. If you love your beautiful scents, light a scented candle, incense, use a spritz of your favourite perfume or use an oil burner. Lavender and geranium have become my new partners in relaxation..
6. See beauty. Whether it’s a morning pep talk to yourself in the bathroom mirror, having a vision board on your wall, standing in the garden watching the leaves dance or reading a book which uplifts you. Let your eyes soak in life’s beauty.
7. Move your body. I try to do a half hour workout or yoga session first thing in my bedroom every day and then get out for a walk or run later in the afternoon. It’ll be a perfect uplift for your energy and is one of the best things you can do to boost your immune system.
8. Let what you eat for breakfast be vibrant, fill you with energy and be packed with nutrients. Even if you don’t manage to get 3 healthy meals in a day, at least starting with one will get your head ready to face the day. My personal favorites are fresh fruit; berries galore, on cold days: porridge with nuts, seeds and raisons, and if I’m feeling hungry I’ll have scrambled tofu (with turmeric to make it look like eggs!) on sourdough toast with avocado.
It’s not rocket science, but it’s amazing how the little things change a lot. We are what we repeatedly do, so try let this time help you create a morning routine that set’s you up for success. Often, the rest of the day runs itself if you get the first bit right!
I leave you today with a reminder: today - focus on what you can change. Focus on the difference you are making. Let go of needing to control those things outside of your sphere of influence. You can’t change what’s happening. You can’t change what your neighbours will do. You can’t change the fact that people are and will suffer over the next few weeks. You can’t change the negativity that feeds the news outlets. What you can do is your part. You can be an example to others of making a right choice, not the easy one. You can reach out and support your community, even if not physically, emotionally and virtually. You can choose what media and content you consume so that you see the opportunity, the acts of kindness in the world around you - not the fear. You can choose what you eat, how you breathe, how you move, what you think. This is going to change us all. Let it make us better.