Things have shifted in the world.
We’ve just realised that we aren’t in control like we thought we were. We’re grieving for so many things we’ve lost. Experiences we can no longer have. Trips we can’t take yet. Family and friends we can’t see. Jobs which are no longer safe. Businesses which are struggling. Finances which are stretched.
We’re adjusting our expectations and trying to find a new normal. Because let’s be honest, things won’t go back to how they were before. This global event has changed all of us, and things will calm down and they will continue and it will all be OK, but the world will be a different place.
I recently published a survey to try to understand where my readers were facing challenges. I’ve had heaps of replies so far (if you haven’t completed it yet, I’ll be leaving it open until 15/4/20 and you can complete it here). The results are showing that we’re ALL impacted in so many different ways. Out of my migration audience, there are people who are trying to be reunited with their pets, there are families who are split across the world, there are people losing businesses, people losing jobs, people worrying about activating their visas, people who don’t qualify for any government support because they are on temporary visas… The issues are far-reaching.
We can’t change what is happening around the world (other than by helping to flatten the curve by staying home etc.), but here are some positive things you can do now that could change your perspective or improve the way you are feeling.
Accept and wait
There are things out of our control right now. We can’t travel, we can’t move home, we can’t move country, we can’t have parties or go and see friends. I hate thinking in terms of the restrictions and things we ‘can’t’ do. Instead, I prefer to think about the fact we are choosing to not travel, move country, have parties and see friends. Yes, I know many countries are in lockdown and many things are being enforced, but if we understand that we are in a position of power here – our choice to stay home is helping others. And it’s the right choice to make. Let’s try to accept we’re doing this for the good of the world and try to feel positive feelings about that if we can.
As for waiting, there are so many unknowns at the moment and governments around the world are trying to keep up with restrictions, support measures and ensuring community safety. I know for so many of my readers, the waiting is agony. You don’t know yet whether any support measures will be brought in to help you on your temporary visa, you don’t know if your visa activation date will be extended, you don’t know yet whether your job is going to exist in a few days or weeks or months. Waiting can feel so stressful, but feeling angry and worried about it won’t change the situation, you still need to wait for the answers you need.
Take your mind off things as much as you can (distraction really does help as focusing on problems and worries only makes them grow). Answers will come, and then there will be time to deal with issues when you can clearly see the next steps.
This is a time to go with the flow and do what feels right. Just be. Don’t force yourself to do anything that doesn’t feel comfortable. You are in control here and you should follow your intuition and do what makes you feel good.
If that means going for a walk, sitting outside with a book, putting on a positive podcast, listening to music or getting some work done – go with the flow and take plenty of regular breaks.
Plan and get organised
If you feel inclined, you could use this time to plan or get organised. If you’re aiming to move to Australia in the future, you can do your online research now. You can grab my Ultimate Emigration Checklist to help you get started, or if you haven’t 100% made the decision to move yet, you could grab my Decision Maker programme.
If you’re thinking of taking some time out to travel around Australia with your family in a caravan, you could do your planning and research now. Decide where you want to visit, work on your budget and finances. Get yourself in a position so when the world opens up again you’re a step closer to following that dream.
Being kind costs nothing, but people will always remember it. Right now, kindness is so important. We’re all worried and under pressure. A smile, an offer of help, a compliment, supporting a small business by buying something or sharing their FB page – it all helps. Focusing on being kind also helps make you feel better too as you’re focused on the good in the world instead of the bad news that is everywhere.
Take care of yourself
There are a lot of ways to do this. Get enough sleep, eat well, take exercise, meditate, drink plenty of water and get some fresh air and sunshine. If you have kids at home, try to get some quiet time alone just for you, too (as that is REALLY important!). Set up regular Zoom chats with your friends and family so you can all stay connected. Use these apps to stay in touch. Social media isn’t necessarily a great place to be right now, and if your mental health is struggling, turn it off. You get to control what you put into your mind.
When you take care of yourself, you also feel much better too – I did an online yoga class yesterday (thanks to my friend Erica Webb’s Virtual Studio) when I was feeling quite drained and stressed and it did me the world of good and it gave me the energy to come back and get on with my day in a much more positive mood. Honestly, exercise and mindset are so tightly connected – if you don’t believe me just give it a try and see how much you feel after.
Gratitude is one of the most important things in the world. Even in the worst situation, there are always things we can be grateful for. Whether that is family, friends, food, resources, sunshine, wildlife…Just look around you and start thinking about everything in a new light. Be grateful for the clean water from your tap. Be grateful our countries are doing what they can to protect people and to take care of the sick.
Be grateful for all of the front line workers who are out there helping people. Feel gratitude for these things and, if you’re in a position to show gratitude for others, do it!
Read and listen to music
Music and literature are two of the best things you can lose yourself in. Whether you choose to read books that help you learn and grow, or you love getting lost in a sci-fi fantasy, it doesn’t matter. It all helps to expand your mind and reduce stress. Music is a huge stress reducer and if you add in some dancing in the kitchen for good measure, it also counts as exercise too!
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This is some of my reading pile ???? ???? What are you reading? Does it feed your soul and make you feel happy? For me, right now I want to read things that make me feel empowered, inspired or happy. Can you recommend any books for me to check out? Btw the tiny copy of E2 on the top was an online order fail from Amazon. Now ordering the full sized version! @patflynn @iamcarriegreen @gabbybernstein @christywhitman1 @pamgrout #selfdevelopment #books #selfdevelopmentbooks #alwayslearning #lovereading #amreading #bookworm
Write your feelings down, paint or make something – even a cake will do! Letting out your thoughts and feelings really helps. It doesn’t matter if it’s any good or not – the act of releasing your creativity is the important part.
Not in an icky way like hoarding all of the toilet roll and selling it on, but in a truly helpful way that serves people. It is filling my heart with joy to see some of the businesses out there that are adapting their services to help more of their customers.
There is a local fruit and veg seller near me in North Lakes, Qld (Fruit & Deli Co) who has recruited a team of drivers and vans and they’re now offering home deliveries, plus they’ve started collaborating with a local Italian restaurant to use their network to distribute pizzas and pasta too. There is a Brisbane science event company called Street Science that usually does local parties and fetes and they’ve moved their classes online and are now servicing a nationwide audience with an online subscription service.
There are ways in all of our lives that we can do bigger things to reach more people. Now is our time to shine and do the big things we were always meant to do.
Heaps of places are making online courses free – now is a great time for learning and growing.
We all have more spare time and no commitments keeping us busy (other than homeworking and homeschooling – note the sarcasm there!). Seriously though, it is the perfect time to learn what you need to launch your new business or start up a side hustle or begin a different career path or just grow your mind in all kinds of ways. The fact so many courses are being made available for free means we have no excuse not to use some of this time to expand our minds!
This is a boring job that I HATE doing. But right now, it’s an important one that could save an awful lot of money. Get an Excel spreadsheet open and go through your online banking and log all of your outgoings. Next, work out which bills or expenses you might be able to cancel, which you could pause or reduce and which you need to shop around for a better deal on.
You can also reach out to individual companies if you need to to ask about the process of reducing your payments or putting them on pause if you need to due to financial hardship. Businesses would much rather you reach out to them early before you get into a difficult situation.
I reviewed our bills over the weekend it made me feel a whole lot better. I now feel much more in control of our finances going forward. I also have a plan for which bills to cut out if our income drops lower, so I have a strong plan of action. Next up, I’m going to spend this weekend shopping around for better deals on our car and home insurance to see if I can cut any costs further.
Choose your priorities
You can’t do everything. It’s OK to choose what is important and to cut corners where you can. Right now for me, that means our family’s wellbeing, homeschooling and working are getting my attention. Cleaning, laundry and gardening are getting pushed back where we can. To reduce trips to the shops, I’ve gone back to ordering Dinnerly meal boxes. It’s not possible to do everything perfect right now – it’s about doing your best and keeping going.
If you have kids at home, they will remember this period of their childhood forever. I know it’s not easy to stay positive and happy all of the time, but kids pick up on your emotions. They will be looking to you to lead the way on how they should be feeling. Talk to them, help them process how they are feeling (their world has also been thrown upside down with school being cancelled and not being able to see their friends or wider family). Homeschooling can add a lot of pressure to any family (and I am speaking from experience with a pair of 10yos and a 7yo at home!), especially if you still need to work as well, so it’s really important to build in time to be together to have some fun.
Even learning can be made fun and doesn’t only need to be restricted to the school work being set online – we’ve done things like listen to online wildlife talks by Steve Backshall, we’ve cooked dinner together, we’ve done some gardening, we’ve baked cakes and listened to David Walliams audio books. This stuff is all fun and doesn’t even feel like learning.
I’m keep trying to think of new special memories we can create. We’ve been for late night swims in the dark with our neon pool lights on and watched the bats fly overhead. We had an hour of candlelight the other day for EarthHour. We’re having little tea parties at home for no reason at all. I want my kids to remember this time we spent together fondly – scary as it is for the grown ups, it’s our job to keep our kids feeling happy and secure.
This is a great opportunity to think about sustainability on the planet. I’ve realised just how much we used to waste before this happened. Now that we’re being more conservative with our food and resources, I’m realising how much I didn’t think about it enough before. I’m being more careful about switching lights off. I’m getting the kids to wear their clothes a bit more often rather than putting things in the wash after they’ve been worn for half an hour. I’m making sure that if my daughter wants an apple, that I cut it up and share it with someone else as I know she’ll only take a few bites of it before she is bored and food is too precious to waste like that. We’re eating a lot less take aways.
When you have less, you want to waste less. I can only hope some of these feelings stay with us all when this is all over.
Choose your words
The final one is this: choose your words. Your words create your world – make sure you choose positive ones. We get to stay home. We get to help flatten the curve. We get to homeschool our kids. We get to keep our community safe. Shift your words and you shift everything. We are so lucky that we get to do these things.
This isn’t an easy time for anyone. We all go through ups and downs – I have times when I spiral with worry and fear just like everyone. I let myself go through those feelings and then I bring myself back to centre again.
We are where our attention is. If we focus our attention on positive things as much as we can then those experiences and feelings will continue to grow. If we focus on the fear and worry and uncertainty then those feelings will grow too.
I know how I’d rather feel.
Stay safe, healthy and grateful, everyone.
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