The social media's are a buzz with creative content sprung from unexpected amounts of free time. There's new recipes, videos, pictures, parody songs, fitness routines, poems, you name it - someones doing it. For a lot of people it's a really positive way of expressing yourself and coping during a lockdown that doesn't have an end date. But for me, it's got me saying "all these people are making such wonderful things, why can't I get off my arse and DO SOMETHING!?".
My day job is working as a receptionist at a media company, and when I heard that it was likely that we would need to be working from home for a while, I thought, how the heck am I going to be a receptionist from my kitchen bench. I knew that I would probably be gaining a lot of free time, especially if you count in the daily commute, and my after work activities being cancelled. Optimistically, I planned to spend time the extra time working on my blog, cooking, baking, trying new recipes, exercising, creating content - just become some sort of creativity superhero.
AND THEN WE ALL GOT SENT HOME...
*Poof* I immediately lost all the motivation to do anything outside of my day job, read the news, and watch all 9 seasons of The Office. At one point, I forced myself to do some baking and surprise, surprise - they came out terrible. Terrible. I started off making some simple flat breads using tapioca flour and coconut milk. Strangely, they turned out exactly like pancakes. So the next day I decided to make banana pancakes using the tapioca flour I used for the flatbread. They were both over and undercooked and were so chewy you couldn't break it up in your mouth. Then I made lemon muffins using a no fail recipe, but guess what, it failed. They were so dense they could have been a weapon thrown hard enough. I finally decided to give baking a break.
So what happened? Talking to my friends, it seemed a lot of us felt the same. As soon as we were had started the lock down, we couldn't find the motivation to do anything. With all the essential workers carrying on, looking after the sick, and keeping things running for us - I began to feel useless and unmotivated. Part of the problem was that I was trying to carry on like normal, but newsflash, we aren't in a very normal time. The important thing to remember is that we are all different, and we all react to extreme situations differently. In the last few weeks I've been noting down some things that I've learnt, and I've taken a moment away from my usual blogging to share a few thoughts.
Here is a few things that I ended up learning:
It's O.K. to feel anxious
Many of us have not lived through a global pandemic like this, it's scary, it's different, you don't have to hit the ground running with new projects. Some of us have had to uplift our lives. Many of my New Zealand friends living in London made the decision to move home, packed up their lives and were gone in a matter of days. Some who wanted to go home, were stuck here indefinitely and now have to sort visas and accomodation. There are countless families who aren't able to visit their older relatives, plans and holidays are out the window, companies being shut down, jobs being lost, and there is no bloody toilet paper anywhere. This is a extremely stressful situation for many individuals and families so it's very understandable that anxiety is at an all time high, so if you don't feel like making 15 Easter inspired baking ideas then that's O.K. Take a moment to take stock of how you are doing (mentally and physically), what you want, and how you and your family will be keeping safe and healthy.
Have goals - but don't beat yourself up if you don't achieve them
If your goal (like me) was to create new recipes and share them on your blog - just start small and work up to them. Because I had little to no inspiration in my brain for creativity, I started with pre baking mixes, pretty much fail safe (although I did manage to burn something but I'll blame my oven) and that really helped me get back into the groove.
Do what you feel like doing
As I learned, it's better not to force yourself into baking, else you may end up with some horrific banana pancakes. Try something else, I did a day of gardening, and a day of sorting out my drawers. While it may not be productive to what you originally wanted to achieve, it still leaves you with a sense of satisfaction. I also made friends with a neighbours cat - not relevant, but a big win for me.
Routine is a good thing
While routine is something we usually strive to get away from, like longing for holidays and weekend, it's actually very necessary in the long run for keeping our brains healthy. Routine can be our anchor in uncertain times. For me, knowing that I start work at 9am, lunch and 1pm and finish work at 5:30pm is a comfort to me at the moment. Even if it's only a couple of things in the day that you are doing, it's really going to ground you. It's also a good time to reflect on what routines you had that you don't miss. For example, I much prefer my current commute - from my bed upstairs to the kitchen downstairs. Cheaper, and only takes about 23 seconds.
Keep reading the news to a minimun
At the beginning of March, I was refreshing BBC live every 10 minutes to try make sense of what was going on. I'm a big fact person, I love to know the statistics and numbers of everything. I was hoping that we would get some insight into what the next few months would look like, but unfortunately, this situation is pretty unpredictable. After a while, I realised that I was obsessing over the news, and it was taking a toll on my mental health. Now I'm trying to keep it to 10 mins a day (if any).
This comes in two parts, Be kind to yourself: drink plenty of water, get fresh air, eat fruit and vege, exercise, don't punish yourself for having an unproductive day, watch T.V that makes you laugh, talk to your friends and family, meditate, sing, dance, paint, do things that bring you joy/ Be kind to others: remember that we are all experiencing this together. Everyone will be finding this difficult, your neighbours, your co-workers, the essential workers that we are ALL relying on! Treat people with kindness, and know that we are all in it together.
Don't be silly, listen to the government advice.
In the last few days I've started baking and cooking again, you can look forward to a fantastic GF banana choc chip muffin recipe coming ...at some point. I've been in self isolation for 25 days now, and I'm finally starting to get used to it, and get into my groove. Part of me is wondering how I'm going to find re entering society when the lockdown is finally over - but that's another blog for another time.
Anyway, I suppose what I'm trying to say it if you don't feel like baking today - that's ok. If you don't feel like baking tomorrow - that's still ok. If you don't feel like baking this week, this month or even until the lockdown is over - that's absolutely ok. Put yourself and your mental health first, stay at home, and stay positive.
P.S I am so grateful for the essential workers and NHS staff that are out on the front lines working so hard day and night. If you are reading this thank you all for your work.