The everyday is an unfamiliar place to most of the world right now. There is anxiety about the uncertainty of what tomorrow will bring, when we will be able to travel and see family and friends again and what the world post Covid 19 will look like.
I think that being an expat has prepared us well for this isolation period and adjusting to the unfamiliar. You might recognise these feelings of loneliness or nerves about uncertainty. You’ve already had to learn how to be comfortable in your own company and not have your support network on hand whenever you need them. Despite having these skills and going through similar experiences before, it doesn’t mean you’re finding the current status quo easy.
I'm super grateful for having this guy for
company during 'circuit breaker'!
In comparison to the rest of the world, Singapore’s ‘circuit breaker’ is not deemed that restrictive and I’m a well seasoned expat who’s spent most of the past decade living away from home. However, we’re not even 2 weeks in and I’m already struggling to adjust to the lack of structure and being without my usual human contact and connection. There are a number of tools and techniques that have helped me get through the crazier days and some things that I hope can help you feel more grounded too.
Firstly, let yourself feel whatever emotions you are feeling. Yes, there will always be someone who is worse off than you but if you’re feeling angry because your gym has closed then be angry. If your holiday of a lifetime has been cancelled then be upset. BE KIND TO YOURSELF. Especially if you are living alone and don’t have a partner/housemates for mutual support. You are your main cheerleader right now so if you’re kicking yourself to the floor then it won’t make this difficult period any easier.
Allowing your feelings to be valid is important but GRATITUDE is one of the main things I use to help me out of any negative funk. Think of all the things that you still have in your life that you can appreciate, even more so now that accessibility to everyday things are being limited. For example, you hopefully still have your job to pay the bills and friends and family to call and help you through this period. Albeit wearing a mask I can still walk to my favourite cafe and get my takeaway flat white. I have a balcony and a wonderful view that I can sit out and enjoy it on. By doing this and thinking about the things I still have in my day, I soon realise and appreciate how lucky I am. Singapore is a country of ‘first world problems’ and I’m aware how very lucky I am to call it home. But I think that wherever you live and whatever you current circumstance you will be able to find appreciation in the small things that still contribute to your day.
ROUTINE. Even though you might not be leaving your house, sticking with a routine whether you’re working from home or not, is vital for keeping you motivated. Having a job to log on for at 9am will make it easier of course. However, I encourage you to still get up, shower and change out of your night pyjamas, even if it’s just to put your day set straight back on! Ladies, if it helps you feel more focused put on your make-up and take it off at the end of the work day to help you switch off. For those not able to work from home, think of all the things you never get around to doing; listening to that TED talk or podcast, reading that book you bought in December, arranging those travel photos circa 2018 into an album you STILL haven’t got around to doing! Plan what you want to achieve the night before and structure your day around completing them.
This leads me to LISTS! Whether you’re working or not, they’re a great way of motivating you through what may seem another groundhog day. For me, ticking off the basics such as ‘shower’, ‘do a hair mask’, ‘get coffee’, ‘wash bed sheets’ really encourages me to get out of bed and achieve some productivity. As much as we may moan about the monotony of daily chores, we always feel good about ourselves post completion! Oh and coffee…coffee helps me with any form of productivity! Saying this, there will be days when you achieve nothing but completion of a Netflix series and that’s totally fine too. Tomorrow is another day for organising your wardrobe…as above…be kind and give yourself a break.
MOVEMENT. Whether that’s doing a virtual yoga class before logging on for work, an outdoor run/cycle (if you’re lucky enough to be allowed outdoors) or an online HIT workout from a favourite influencer, moving your body helps move your mind and endorphin levels. There are so many free sources right now, whether from an app or on social media so there is little excuse to say you haven’t the resources. Exercise goes hand in hand with my tip about routine and trying to maintain the structure of life before Covid and it’s also another daily activity to tick off of your list…so a triple win!
One of the most important things at this time, especially if you are living alone is to KEEP IN CONTACT with both family and friends inside and outside your time zone. I describe myself as an introvert, stubbornly independent and someone who will argue they don’t need the support of anybody. However, if I’m feeling down I’m now forcing myself to pick up the phone to a friend, even just to say hi and no other agenda. Being female, I think we find it easier to talk about our feelings but I think it’s really important we are real in these conversations and not just small talk and saying “I’m fine”. Everyone is struggling in their own way but by being able to connect and realise you’re not the only one really helps you shift your mind set. I get inspiration from hearing what others are doing with their day or just a giggle to see someone strive to bake their very first banana loaf…badly!
I definitely don’t do aaaallll the above, I use different tools for different days and there are tips that may work for some but not all. I think the main thing to remember is that this is a temporary situation and even though we don’t know when it will end, it will. In the meantime we all have to ride this wave of discomfort and uncertainty so why not make it less painful where we can. I think we can also use this current pause on life to take stock and decide what we want to take forwards with us when this crazy period does come to an end.