Morning all. Right, before we go any further, a quick announcement. I’ve just made all of my patterns free (using the code ANTIVIRAL at the checkout) because it doesn’t feel right to take money whilst people are losing their livelihoods. You can find the patterns here. Most of my designs were free anyway, but for now, they all are.
Anyway, to the subject of today’s post. I don’t usually discuss psychology stuff on here, because I like to keep this blog very separate from the day job, but I think that today might be the time to make an exception. There’s no getting away from the subject that’s on everyone’s minds right now: this pesky little virus that’s trampling all over everyone’s lives. So tiny, yet so RUDE!
So with my psychologist hat on (an extravagantly purple affair with orange sparkly feathers atop, in case you’re curious), may I humbly share some tips for surviving emotionally in these crazy times. The advice here is aimed at those of you who are stuck at home rather more than you’d prefer. Of course, you’re at an immediate advantage by virtue of the fact that you knit/crochet. That means you rarely face the problem, How am I going to fill this time?
There’s no getting away from the fact that we’re living in scary times. The frequency of use of the word ‘unprecedented’ is, quite frankly, unprecedented. It’s natural to feel anxious. You’re anxious. I’m anxious. Even my computer seems to be running its antiviral software more often than usual. But the risk is that unchecked worrying could lead to full-on depression/anxiety, and that is, by its very definition, NOT EVEN SLIGHTLY FUN. So here are a few things to consider whilst you’re stuck at home watching the world go bonkers.
- Goals. We all need ambitions. We need to feel that we’re travelling somewhere, even whilst we’re stuck at home with an uncertain employment situation and swarms of children who seem to think we’re their parent. But think: despite the constraints you’re facing, is there something that your time and isolation enables you to do that would normally be impossible? Learn the ukulele or the harmonica (via YouTube videos)? Start growing vegetables? Work towards doing 50 push-ups per day? Paint the kitchen? Master vegan baking? Meditate? Learn to speak Portuguese? Doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s an enticing challenge for you. Ideally, set a very specific goal, so “I’m going to make a 3-d crocheted model of the Taj Mahal in lace-weight yarn” is better than “Yeah, I’ll probably do some crochet”. The more you’re focused on your crazy, hare-brained goal, the less you’ll be focused on the other things you can’t do right now. It’s better for this to be ‘the year you invented Cuban-Icelandic fusion food’ than ‘the year when you couldn’t go to choir’. Of course these goals could be for you alone or for your whole family together.
- Pleasure versus mastery. We all need a balance in our lives between things that are fun (pleasure) and things that challenge us (mastery) – not that the two are mutually exclusive. Yes you could sit on the sofa all day in your PJs watching films… and that might give you high scores for ‘pleasure’ for a little while, but it doesn’t involve much effort (mastery), and so you’ll likely find that your mood and motivation begin to dip. At the other extreme, you could use this time to singlehandedly re-tile the roof, which whilst extremely difficult (mastery) yields pretty much zero pleasure, if only because it’s cold, and the relentless rain is getting into your underwear. Neither of those scenarios is ideal: instead, I’d advise a balance between periods of TV-indulgence and periods of soggy-underweared-roof-re-tiling. We really do need both.
- Get real. The internet is great. Far be it from me to say otherwise. BUT, try and do some things that are – for want of a better word – real. Bake a cake, grow some vegetables, feed the birds, cuddle the cat, play the piano. Why? These activities engage most of your senses. (I said ‘most’ – please do not lick your cat.) At a time of high anxiety, tasks like these are grounding. They bring you – quite literally in the case of gardening – back down to earth from that horrible sky-high cloud of fear that you risk visiting. And activities like these can mostly carry on as normal – they’re a reminder that not everything has gone crazy. Also, constructive activities like growing vegetables provide the reassuring sense of doing something useful. A great deal of what most of us are facing is about stopping things or avoiding things – it’s good to feel that you’re doing something positive to prepare, such as growing a whole heap of tasty potatoes that’ll keep you going for the next few months.
- The basics. At times of weirdness, it’s easy to forget the basic things that help to keep us healthy and emotionally sorted: sleep, exercise, fresh food, water, time outdoors. Please try not to neglect these, because your immune system and your emotional health could take a hit if you do.
I hope that helps, and I hope that you and yours are doing OK. Normal yarny service will be resumed forthwith.
One last thing. May I ask a small favour please? It’s my mum’s (Mother Twisted) birthday this week, and it’s fair to say that isolation at home staring at the walls with Father Twisted wasn’t quite her idea of celebration so if you’ve a moment to spare, please could you wish her a happy birthday in the comments? Thank you – your kindness is appreciated. She will probably murder me for directing attention her way, but I shall die happy.
Stay healthy, people. And carry on knitting/hooking.