It’s been a difficult week. Having squeezed in a fleeting visit with my mum in her garden, I’m back to not knowing when I’ll get to see her again considering the new lockdown measures and how vulnerable she is. My Nan is also ill and feeling very isolated. A good friend is moving away. Even without all those things, the chilly weather and ever-darkening skies are more than enough to make me gloomy.
To some extent, this isn’t new. We’ve all been dealing with being alone and with perpetual bad news when we wake up every morning. Maybe it’s fatigue from all the months this has been going on, maybe when it’s mixed in with the highly disturbing conspiracy theories that are circulating it’s just harder to deal with. So far I’ve been getting by on the most basic of mood boosters. Wine, cheese and cake with a dollop of Buffy The Vampire Slayer have basically got me this far. Weeks of endless Zoom quizzes were good at the time, but I don’t think they’re going to cut it anymore.
The problem is, a lot of this stuff makes me more miserable in the long run. Cake is great, but the sugar crash that comes afterwards means my moods bounce all over the place if I rely on it to keep me happy. The same with wine. At the time it’s great, but the following day (or days sometimes) leaves me feeling lethargic, toxic and grumpy. A depressover, as me and my friend call it.
So what I need are some things that will make me feel better and not leave me with bad side effects. Don’t get me wrong, there will still be plenty of wine and cake in my house, but I need to widen my scope a bit. The first of these came to me after reading an article by Maggie Smith when she talked about saying ‘yes’ to things. I’ve always wanted rollerblades. When I was a kid all we had were those clunky plastic things that you strapped onto your shoes that hardly rolled at all. I’d look at other kids whizzing past me on their futuristic blades and feel deep envy.
This is the result. My first shaky outing was this week. They weren’t exactly as whizzy as I was hoping and I felt a bit of an idiot waving my arms around while trying to keep my balance. But when I actually managed to get a bit of speed going I couldn’t stop smiling. The plan is to take my ‘rollerbops’ (as my daughter calls them) out to nice flat parks and have a little ‘whoosh’ to get my energy going.
My other trial this week was a different form of exercise. I really liked that I could do planks for longer and had more muscly arms after lots of HIIT workouts but they aren’t exactly fun. It was also leading to a familiar slide – getting obsessed with my body after exercise. Not something I want to return to. So I tried a zumba class instead. Twenty minutes of jumping around like a loon to thumping beats perhaps didn’t work my core as much but it cheered me up no end. I’ve also started listening to as much loud/pop/singalong music as possible while doing other things (cleaning the toilet, cooking) to ramp up the fun.
Adventure is often something I enjoy. Even with it being severely limited, I’ve started to incorporate elements into my life. Last month I went to a park in North London I’d never been to before. Hardly exotic but it is a change in location. I’ve set myself the challenge of having ‘adventure Thursdays,’ where I have to go somewhere I’ve never been before, even if it isn’t that far away. I’ve already booked my ticket to Southend for October. A treat to look forward to and a small slice of adventure.
There are a whole load of other things I’m trying out. At the weekend we had a picnic in the living room. I’ve sketched out my favourite photo from our Scotland holiday and I’m going to have a go at painting it. In the shopping order this week is butterscotch Angel Delight which I’m going to make with sliced up bananas in it because it was my favourite pudding when I was younger. I give myself one hour every Monday evening to do something for myself. Whatever that happens to be. It’s my hour (once my daughter’s in bed) and I’m keeping it closed off. This week I made a collage out of old magazines on A3 paper. It served no purpose but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
It’s going to be a long winter. Things continue to be uncertain and our government continue to be a shambles. With very little externally to place my trust in, I’m trying to trust in the power of simple fun to get me through.
What fun things are you trying out to help you get through this difficult time? I’d love to hear about them @sarahtinsleyuk
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