with everything that's been going on.
It's been quite a couple of weeks, hasn't it?
Here in the UK, we are almost at a complete standstill. This is (I hope) a once-in-a-lifetime event.
I had an eye on travelling somewhere in April and was already excitedly planning there wheres and the whens. Of course, I'll be staying put for now and, when I drafted this piece at the beginning of the week, May or June was looking like a possibility. By midweek, September was looking more realistic and, now that it’s the weekend, I’m wondering whether I’ll be able to go anywhere this year at all.
I am accepting that whatever will be, will be.
This week, schools in the UK were closed down and on Friday all pubs, restaurants and shops were closed. Going out for a brief walk in the park felt… eerie. But, actually, a sense of hope hung in the air. I know it’ll just take an adjustment for me to be restricted and cooped-up indoors, and not away somewhere else where I can spread my wings and feel free (I’m living with my parents).
As someone who consciously decided to reduce (and often avoid) my news intake a couple of years ago, that old friend fear has been creeping in. I think as a sensitive person, the fear of others starts to become our own. I've found myself wanting to keep checking the news, to hear about the latest country approaching lockdown status, or to see if today's stock market drop is as bad as yesterday's.
One thing I've realised is that this fear and 'on alert'-ed-ness really doesn’t serve me. Not only that, but it makes me feel agitated, my body feels tight, and it can bring about any other latent anxieties and concerns that I may have.
All in all, things I could do without.
I would much rather feel grounded, calm, centred, and in my body as opposed to within my fear-and-anxiety-prone mind.
I wanted to share with you some of the things I've been doing, and I'd also love to hear your suggestions too. Us sensitive intuitives (that's INFPs and INFJs, as well as our INT and ENF counterparts), and all of us in fact, really must do what's best for us - and take extra care in looking after ourselves and leaning into our self-care.
Here are some of the things which have been helping me, or which I know are helpful to me, even if I've not been doing them (and in no particular order).
1. Listening to music (the right kind)
Especially at times when I am feeling frazzled (or when I'm feeling the frazzled energy from my surroundings and it's rubbing off on me), I lean into calming music without lyrics. I really enjoy classical music and movie music. I was listening to a classical music playlist on my way into jury service this week, in fact.
After a day cooped-up indoors (and probably not drinking enough water), and spent in my head (plus checking the news, emails, and my phone far too often), I dragged myself to the gym at the start of the week.
I hadn't realised just how tight my body was - probably from everything that's been going on, but also not having exercised for a number of days.
It's looking like these places will be closing soon (the swimming pool/spa area has already closed for the foreseeable, and I have frozen my membership from April), and so I'll be having to discipline myself to do some of my own stretching/yoga at home, even if only in 5-10 minute stints. It makes SUCH a difference.
In fact, I try to do some kind of movement and stillness, even if only for a couple of minutes, every day. The great thing about yoga and stretching, is that you’re doing both.
4. Distancing myself from my phone (and the news)
I removed myself from 3 WhatsApp groups last week. That with people/chatter which I find noisy (#digitalclutter) and I don't feel is serving me.
I have recently gone "old school" and downgraded my iPhone to a Blackberry, on which I don't receive emails, have no social media and mute WhatsApp. Especially at the moment, with my weird temptation of wanting to keep checking the news, I am more consciously trying to be intentional with how I use technology, namely my mobile and my laptop.
Like pretty much every item on this list, this is still a work-in-progress for me; one morning, I didn't check emails at all (#smallwin), but today I've been in-and-out of emails all day (#smallloss).
I think it’s a very fine (or perhaps a not-so-fine) line between keeping informed and overwhelming ourselves with the news. I’m definitely thinking about how I can be more intentional with this… it might well be just tuning into (or, reading about) our Prime Minister’s daily update each day.
I've done journalling of different forms in the last 5 years, from Julia Cameron's 'Morning Pages' through to more 'prompted' journalling through the daily templates providing by the likes of the 5-Minute Journal.
A month ago, I got started with journalling again after a break of some time; I had heard good things about (INFJ) Jacob Nordby's 'Creative Self Journal' and I've not looked back since. 3 simple questions to answer each day (often twice a day, AM and PM) which really helps to centre me.
The benefits of journalling are many and, especially in times like these, the ability to get mental chatter out on paper, to untangle the many thoughts and feelings and "stuff", to get better in touch with my feelings and more inside my body (do you see a pattern here?) is worth its weight in gold for me.
I feel that journalling can be an amazing tool for INFPs and INFJs. After getting started with it again, putting pen to paper and scribbling to my heart's content, it's made me realise just how much I've missed it and why on earth I stopped doing it in the fist place.
It's difficult to put the tangible benefits of journalling into words (like many of the items on this list), but I would really recommend it.
6. Checking in with people who nourish you
As much as I adore my solo time, I continue to forget just how much nourishing conversations - with the right people - lift me and inspire me and fill my cup up for the rest of the day, and even going into the next day.
In fact, I feel that many of these items carry on to the next day; for example, a PM gym workout/stretch/spa can be felt when I wake the next morning - my body still feels good and my mind feels calm.
The key here is the right people. Over time I've slowly found "my people", that handful of individuals who I know I can speak with, anytime, and I know that whatever comes up I'll feel lifted.
If you're not someone who's used to doing video calls, now's the time to make them happen. Reach out to that friend or family member you've been missing, who you'd like to check in with (you'll feel "the pull" and *want* to reach out to them); especially at the moment, I bet the feeling's totally mutual.
Here's a message I sent to an overseas friend this week:
Hey, how are you getting on? With everything that's happening right now, I hope you're keeping safe and staying grounded - it's pretty intense right now, isn't it?
Do you fancy catching up next week?
It'd be lovely to check back in and share what we've been up to (lots to tell I'm sure), and I feel that now more than ever is a good time for some nourishing chat :)
7. Read a book
Of course, I have more than one book 'on the go' at the moment, both fiction and non-fiction (the joys of having a Kindle). I like to read a little in bed (before my Netflix habits appeared), and I've been enjoying some rare daytime reading this week, too, whilst sitting around at jury service.
With many of us being encouraged to self-isolate and adopt social-distancing, and whilst you're working from home and more in control of your routine, take the opportunity to dig into a good book (or 3). Reading is also a grounding activity for me, and I'm pretty sure a good book nourishes the soul.
8. Express yourself
In a similar vein, whilst it's more something which has been thrust on us, this increased 'free' time at home could be really conducive to doing some self-expression, whether it's doing some scribbling/colouring in, writing of some kind, or whatever else is your jam.
I've had more of an opportunity to put pen to paper this week and have felt better for it.
Expressing ourselves is both nourishing and grounding, so carve out some time to do just that.
I often like to do some creative writing after my morning journalling, and whilst listening to some of that calming classical music I mentioned earlier.
I have to say, this week has felt intense for me. I’ve found myself more fearful and anxious and just feeling off. I’ve even been a little bit rundown, and this Saturday I’ve just been curled up on my sofa watching Spiderman. Something I’ve realised is just how much being on my laptop at times like this can be a weird form of distraction and just breed even more anxiety… jumping around between whatever personal project I’m working on (I have a couple, probably one too many) and the news.
It’s felt amazing not to be on my laptop at all, and I’m going to be trying to reduce the time I spend on it - and be more intentional (i.e. only use my laptop for video calls, and for typing stuff up… anything I can do with pen-n-paper, rather than on my laptop tinkering, is probably best done staying off of a screen, and only getting onto the laptop once it’s ready to be typed up. We’ll see what happens.
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