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Monday, 27 April 2020 07:00

The short and sweet iso bucket list: how are you going with these 3 basic things?

 iso bucket list

Like many of you, I’ve seen lots of advice about how to cope in the times we find ourselves in.  Some of it I’ve found extremely helpful and practical, but in another way, I’ve found it a bit overwhelming to have so many ideas and expectations about how to live ‘the new normal’.

I’ve also seen that sometimes the advice doesn’t factor in the differing nature of people’s experiences: while some have welcomed greater time due to lessened pressures and commitments, for others the pressure and demands on them are positively skyrocketing and increasing stress.

While some are welcoming new challenges and the opportunity to broaden their horizons, others are needing to lower their expectations of what they can expect from themselves on any given day and definitely can’t extend their attention to learning a new language, baked goods and uploading amazing social media content of their own, but simply need to survive.

So, at risk of becoming ‘another list’ I wanted to compile three essential things each of us could consider to keep ourselves going in these strange and unprecedented times!

  • Check yourself:
    You might have heard it said many times, but have you really checked how you’re going and how this is affecting you? Have you spoken this aloud to someone who can really listen? Have you taken a minute or two to just notice in your body if you’re carrying extra stress, worry, anxiousness or fatigue that is not normally there?  Is there extra pressure in your head, shoulders, tummy, arms or neck that you haven’t noticed before? 
    So much of what I’ve been reading would indicate that if this is the case for you, it is pretty common across the population at the moment. 

One article I read was from someone who normally works from home and would regard her usual circumstances to be largely unchanged, relatively speaking, but even she reported higher levels or fatigue and less levels of productivity than she would normally have due to the extra stressors that are unique to this time.
Initially, I don’t even suggest that you need to necessarily do anything about this, other than just try to recognize and acknowledge your current emotional state and how this could be different from your usual experience.

  • Be intentional:

Most of the advice I have been reading from all over is all suggesting the same thing: to engage actively with whatever circumstances you find yourself in as much as you can, rather than being a passive spectator or victim of it.  For example, so many sources are recommending keeping a routine, regular exercise, good sleep and nutrition, seeking counselling or psychological assistance for changes to your mental health, or seeking out whatever other practical help you might need at this time. 

This could also mean intentionally lowering your self-expectation to take the pressure off in some areas or communicating to others where you need them to lower what they can expect of you in the ‘new normal’.  Where you have always prided yourself on home-cooked meals, perhaps a once a week takeaway option, having other members of the household cook or accepting a friend’s offer of help is something that you need to allow during these times. 

For those with that extra time on their hands, this could mean really discerning and choosing recreational pursuits with a bit more thought and wisdom rather than whiling the day on social media or your other favourite escapist pleasure.  Sure, a bit of this is relaxing, but I’ve heard a lot of people say that they’re trying to be more intentional by imagining themselves at the end of all of this and thinking about what they wished they had done with the time and opportunity given to them now.

Other examples could include setting a new routine in the day, a daily set of goals to achieve to maintain motivation and balance of life, loosening the ‘rules’ for yourself, your children or teenagers, thinking creatively about how to foster fun experiences and interactions at home or thinking of creative ways to stay connected with loved ones (FaceTiming while watching the same movie is one of my new favourites!)

Whatever it means for you, being intentional ultimately means tuning into your deepest needs and seeing how possible it is to have these met, even in the midst of everything that is happening around us.

  • Give:

I’ve seen so many ideas and examples of people reaching out in a variety of ways, so I thought it was worth considering if each of us have intentionally reached out in some way at this point, beyond just our good ideas and intentions. 

For some of us, this will be as obvious as giving of ourselves to family members who are now home with us, giving that extra little bit of patience when we don’t seem to have it and going the extra mile to make our homes places of service and love.

Maybe we checked on the elderly neighbours a few weeks back and it’s time for another visit.  Perhaps we’ve found that our income is unaffected, and while we might have initially had the intention to donate to a charity or cause we feel strongly about, it just hasn’t happened yet.  Depending on our circumstances, maybe we’re in a position to give blood, send a card, make a phone call, bake a cake, cook a meal, take a stressed friend for a walk or offer to help families with newborns, kids or the elderly in some way. 

Even if we’re feeling like we’re not coping particularly well, they say that acts of altruism and charity can help turn our focus outwards and increase our feelings of wellbeing, while showing love to the other person as well.

Whatever your circumstances, I hope you’re able to be supported and keep living life as best as you can in these times.  Please know we are praying for you and your families daily and can’t wait to see you again on the other side of the chaos!

Berna Toohey