Here Are 6 More Things You Can do to Make Your Life Better while Physically Isolated

7) Laugh

Distracting ourselves from our fears is a valid technique for feeling better!

Laughter releases helpful chemicals in our bloodstream – Endorphins (our natural “happy” drug) and Dopamine (part of our bodily “reward” system).

  • What are your favourite comedy shows?
  • Is there a comedian you like?
  • Netflix and similar have so many watching options, so find something that makes you laugh!
  • Box-Sets Galore
  • Documentraries abound
  • Sports programmes/highlights to feast on
  • Arts and crafts being streamed like never before

IMPORTANT: We should NOT use over-use laughter as a distraction technique. And it shouldn’t be used for ongoing and persistent fears in regular life. But for a situation like this, where this isn’t much that any of us can do other than sit and wait – distraction can be a great coping mechanism.

8) Start a Journal!

If you’ve always wanted to journal, now is a good time to start. More than just keeping a record of your day, a journal can help you explore and sift through your feelings and experiences and learn from them. It’s a great way to get to know you.

It’s great to choose a beautiful notebook, but the most important thing is to just get started. Here are some prompts to get started with:

  • Today I am feeling _________. I think this is because __________.
  • One big thing I have learned during this crisis is _________.
  • I remember the last time I was stuck in the house _________.
  • One thing that’s surprised me recently is _________.
  • What matters most to me in life is _________.
  • Describe your ideal day _________.

“A journal is expressive by nature and it contains feelings, emotions, problems, ponderings and it is more reflective on the meaning of life being lived.” Lynda Monk

By getting into the habit of consciously and attentively looking back over your journals, you’re able to track your personal patterns of behaviour that help you achieve goals and respond effectively to challenges. You’re also able to see the patterns that get in the way of personal and professional growth, and healthy relationships with self and others. By becoming mindful with what you are discovering, you can move yourself from knowing into a doing state.

Journaling is inexpensive, accessible and is easily self-managed. It carries very few side effects and can be applied almost anywhere. Hence my naming it the new paper therapy.

9) Be Kind!

Kindness and compassion are one of the most powerful tools any of us have in our toolbox right now. Many of us are largely housebound, never mind the fear that you or a loved on might actually catch the COVID virus! So, of course we’re going to feel unpleasant and weird.

  • Use kindness to comfort yourself when afraid or feeling anxious or fidgety. Be gentle. Imagine you’re soothing a friend, small child or animal who is afraid – what would you say to them? Then say that to yourself!
  • Use kindness to give yourself – and others – the benefit or the doubt. Instead of getting upset when you see other people behaving badly, remember that we all do silly things when we’re scared.
  • Imagine you have a kind, wise self. A part of you that is unflappable, intelligent and unconditionally loves ALL of you. Now, when you need it, imagine that kind, wise self is with you, supporting you, maybe giving you a hug – and saying exactly what you need to hear (not just the sugary stuff, but also the tough love and common sense).

10) Help Others

Helping others is empowering and makes us feel better. Here are a few ways you could help others.

  • Check in on a neighbour or friend and see if they need anything. You can do this by phone, or in person, remembering to maintain a 6 feet distance.
  • Offer to get someone groceries if you’re going.
  • Help someone less technically savvy learn how to use Zoom or WhatsApp or whatever they need to get online.
  • Host a virtual get-together with your regular friends.
  • Reconnect more deeply with friends or relatives who have moved away.

11) Live Your Values

When we know your values, we understand what motivates and drives us. When we build our lives around our values, we create a life that is meaningful. Finally, when we align our actions with our values – we’re being truly authentic. It’s a very satisfying and fulfilling way to live.

And living your values could be the single most important thing any of us can do right now.

Here’s an exercise you can do:

  • List your values on a piece of paper or in your journal.
  • Give each value a score ___ / 10 as to how well you are living that value in your life now (where 0 is not at all and 10 is full-out).
  • For the scores that are 8 or more – great!
  • For the scores that are 7 or less out of 10, ask yourself, “How could I express this value more in my life right now?” “What could I do differently or approach differently, so that I feel good about how I live this value in my life?”

For example: You have a value of creativity, but you’re only managing to ‘go through the motions’ right now and your score is 4/10. Ask yourself how you could be more creative during this time – whether it’s cooking, gardening, art or writing or helping your kids do something creative, or even watching a documentary about someone creative you admire…

12) De-Clutter

I bet you have some organizational things on your to-do list (like going through winter clothes, sorting out toys to donate or tidying the laundry closet, garage or shed) that have been on there for a while. Use this isolation period to get them done!

Getting organized and de-cluttering allows us to exert some control over our lives – and therefore feel less helpless! Plus it’ll feel amazing just to have it done.

Organize your closets, your garage, your books, your photos, office, kitchen equipment. Whatever needs organizing. Or perhaps you need to go through your receipts or file your taxes!

  • If you need some inspiration (and great clothes-folding tips) you could watch the Marie Kondo series on Netflix!

A simple 3 Step Method to go through your stuff:

  1. If you’re keeping it, be sure to DECIDE where it will “live” from now on.
  2. If you’re not keeping it, create two piles:
    • Things to DUMP
    • Things to DONATE (and if relevant to pass on to specific people).
  3. When you’re done, put each pile into bags or boxes, and then once this crisis is over you can get rid of what you no longer need.
  • TIP: You don’t need to do any of this ‘in one sitting’, do an hour a day – you’ll be surprised how much you get done if you keep it up for a week!

What next

So, which of the above ideas resonated with you? The areas I am focusing on are:

  • Being in the moment
  • Decluttering
  • Helping others

This current and strange COVID-19 situation will end. And when it does, you’ll be proud you made the effort to learn something – whether it’s about yourself, fresh knowledge, a new skill – and who knows what else! Believe you have the skills and power to tackle this situation and you will! Choose to make the best of a difficult situation and no matter what – you’ll find a way.

Home learning, schooling and working – Part 2/3

Colorful boardgame

Anyone who follows me or reads my blogs, will know I like a plan…”prior planning prevents p*** poor performance”. I’m one for a routine, not rigid but there to establish boundaries, needs, wants and goals. My achievements as a househusband have their foundations in my planning…room for improvement I’m sure. Home schooling has taught me lot and I thought I’d share with you some insights.

Routines
It is important to keep to the children’s routines at home as much as possible. As a family we often feel much calmer and more in control when our brains connect with familiar patterns. With routine should be inbuilt downtime too. Only last weekend – we shared the meaning of the word ‘pragmatic’. There is only so much structured play you can have in your home with limited access to outside. I have had to relent on ‘gaming’ and allow greater time to computerised games (think how out of sync the kids usually are in the school hols). Luckily, we are a household of board games too…so for every ‘Roblox’, ‘Fifa’, ‘Minecraft’ and ‘Pokemon’, I get to play a game of draughts, chess or snakes & ladders’.


Establish Boundaries
We try to start the day at the usual time. Our boys are early risers. It’s been hard but before we go to bed remote controls are hidden. The idea being the boys are more inclined to get their heads around  ‘school work’ out or just play together before breakfast. We then set about having breakfast with home learning starting at 9am.

It does mean that my partner and I rise a tad earlier to get a couple of interruption-free hours of work in before the family starts their day. Being more pragmatic has meant that usual boundaries are relaxed and we are more flexible (e.g. gaming and more screen time). My partner and I have alternate responsibilities during school term (see below). This means we are both able to get some uninterrupted work time and the boys get some quality-focused time from us too…that’s the theory. In practice, it is hard work and needs the buy-in of us all.

Reward systems and consistency are important too.

Catch ups and game plans
We use our ‘together time’s, e.g. lunch and dinner and down time to have a little catch-up on the day, days and weeks ahead. It helps to break down the monotony and look at what was good or not so good previously. It helps us to address our expectations, the use of laptops, computers, mobiles, a case in point and when we are working or schooling.

Before my partner became ‘furloughed’, we had to be honest we were not capable of completing 7-straight hours of work with all of us being home. Our current circumstances brought on by Covid19 is discussed, and used to help the boys to understand that there will be times when we cannot be disturbed.

My sons are used to me being at home more often than not, as I often work from home and as a househusband, they understand my need to be in “do not disturb mode”. When working with clients from home, my office space (corner of our bedroom) is totally out of bounds. A sign and mini clock on the door makes the point.

Have fun
We can choose to learn, grow, connect and evolve and come out of this difficult time by doing all the above. However, it will be made much harder if we cannot have some fun. So, although a stickler of discipline, plans, routines and strictures, I have become more pragmatic. It will be different for us all. Relationships are fraught with the unknown. Pressures and expectations during these difficult times will be acute. Building in some fun, flexibility and time to reflect has proved to create greater connectivity within our family home. Without doubt, the boys’ relationships are stronger and more connected – still fighting daily like cats and dogs, there is an element of fun and adventure. After all, family life and the time we spend together is what holds us all together. 

My partner and I are knackered. There have been more cross words used in and around a full house. It has been hard, it has proved difficult, but there have been so many positives too. We know more about each other’s work, pressures and expectations – that means we have been able to share ideas and concerns and coming up with solutions (that didn’t last long, she is now on furlough…but you get my point).

Similarly, downtime means that we can share thoughts and plans for the days ahead. Just hoping it’s not monotonous.

We have a timetable. It reflects the timetable the boys use at school which they dictated to us. It shows the timing of lessons, breaks, lunchtime, lessons, PE and the like. Before the Easter break, my partner and I shared our own work timetable which incorporates the boys home learning. This allows us to be sure and aware of commitments in terms of calls to be made, conference-calling, reports, projects, networking etc al and downtime.  

Close-up of a stopwatch



The timetable has in-built break-out sessions for both of us. Key to the above was working a 3-day on then a 2-day off rota. You work three days as lead ‘home learner’ while your partner is responsible for breaks and dinnertime; and, if you are on a day off, it means you were on cover. You were not the one leading the lessons but you would be on stand-by. We have continued this post-Easter and bveing on furlough.  It seems to work, adding variety, space and time to our days.

Business man walking a red tight rope

Hopefully, you found this interesting, this is what, my family and I have experienced, and what other parents might be experiencing too.  Parents remain the most influential people in a young person’s life and despite some finding it really difficult on occasions they continue to provide huge amounts of support both physically and emotionally. If you have any ideas or thoughts, feel free to contact me.  I’d more than happy to hear your points of view and see what we can share and bring to the attention of helping others during this period in terms of further positive change.

It’s good to talk.

Financial assistance during uncertain times – Covid19

It’s been another very difficult week, lots going on personally, individually, socially and collectively.  I just wanted to get in touch with you all to update you on some of the measures brought into place by Government that will in the first case help you to manage your finances during this difficult time.  I’ve also got more useful handy resources to help you think through service implications and how to stay ahead of the curve if possible.  This is a lengthy piece but it does cover everything that is available currently – and I’ll send round extra bulletins as and when more information becomes available.

FINANCE

At the moment there is financial help to businesses and the third sector as well as individuals.  My thinking is a lot of these will still be early stages and we may get further updates, daily and possibly weekly – very fluid. 

For businesses https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

Grants – these are sadly only available to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses.  See above link for guidance.

However there does appear to be support for businesses that pay little or no business rates.  Small Business Grant Scheme funding through Local Authorities and can be up to £10,000 to meet ongoing costs.  You need to occupy property and contact your local authority about this. (So, I’d wait a while for them to sort themselves out!). Apparently, they will contact you if you are eligible.

Loans

Corona Virus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

You apply through an approved bank lender: https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/accredited-lenders/

More information is here: https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/for-businesses-and-advisors/

Eligibility checklist here: Your business must generate more than 50% of its turnover from trading activityhttps://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/CBILS-SME-Eligibility-Check-FINAL.pdf

This loan facility is available for 12 months interest free and is useful for cash flow.   There is still little information about the specific requirements from each lender and the information you need to submit – likely cash projections to show the loan is repayable.

VAT Have been deferred for the end March Quarter and will not be repayable till the end of the 2020/21 financial year.  This is automatic and doesn’t require any contact with HMRC.

Business Rates

Have been deferred and will not be payable for 12 months

Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SME’s the govt will cover up to 2 weeks SSP per eligible employee.  Keep notes of dates of sick leave, they are setting up an appropriate system for this.  You can still choose to pay staff at full sick pay if you wish.  But you will get SSP levels covered. This is only relevant to businesses with under 250 employees.

HMRC Time to pay scheme – for any outstanding tax payments from business to HMRC (e.g. VAT/PAYE) an interest free payment plan.  0800 0159 559

For Charities and Businesses

Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme

This support scheme will provide a grant to employers (including third sector organisations) to keep workers rather than make them redundant. Salaries will be paid at 80% of their current level up to a maximum of £2,500. These grants will be available by the end of April.  You can apply for grants and loans in the meantime to help manage cash flow.  However, you must make staff ‘furloughed’ so they can no longer work for you during the furlough period and this will affect their contracts.

Insurances: Double check if your insurance covers you for pandemics…

For employees: The following link is very useful to send round your staff team and explains what is available.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-guidance-for-employees

Also note that employees can ask for a 3month mortgage holiday.

Tenants – the Government has introduced legislation that means landlords cannot evict tenants for up to 3 months.  However, you can ask your landlord to also give you a holiday (if they can afford via their mortgage lender if they are paying a mortgage on your property).

For self-employed people – the government is not bringing out enough measures for people who are self-employed and many think the Corona Virus Jobs Retention Scheme should apply to them too.  You can email them TODAY before 5pm to tell them this at tsc@parliament.uk whilst they consider their policy around this.

Further service support around mental health, anxiety and supporting families (especially those with high needs family members)

There are useful resources here:

Empower Educate Enlighten

Stay Safe