Life coach to the Elite Jessica McGregor Johnson discusses how to cope with lock-down and how we can prepare for a different life afterwards.
So here we are at least six weeks into the lock-down, depending on where you live of course. And we all can agree that we didn’t see this coming a few months ago.
As a Swami said to me many moons ago: “You are never given a challenge too big, nor too small – they are always just the right size.” And for some this is true – they are managing this new way of being in an uncertain holding pattern well. For others, it has brought up fear, anxiety and worry about the future.
So how do we handle this global crisis? How can we make it through in the best way possible and come out the other side sane and feeling ready for the new normal that is to come?
These questions are a crucial part of understanding how to handle this global lock-down we find ourselves in. This is a not a “hold your breath until normal service resumes” moment. Normal service is going to look and feel different, and it is up to us as to what that will be like. That’s the good news; we get to decide who we want to be in this new normal that is going to appear.
But Before We Get There – How To Handle What We Are Facing Right Now?
Firstly, allow yourself to feel whatever you are feeling. In times like these, we often flip back into our survival mind. Anxiety or the unknown will do that. And when we’re in survival mode, instead of giving yourself a hard time, simply accept it. Furthermore, accept it in others. Everyone is showing their human side right now and it is not always pretty, but it is temporary. So cut yourself some slack and know that you will come out the other side and you will feel better – as soon as you stop resisting how you are feeling.
Contrary to what you may read, you do have to use this time to do all the things you’ve been promising yourself to do ‘when you have the time’. Yes, if you are inspired to do something then go ahead, dive right in. Do it full-heartedly and enjoy every moment.
But, do not make it a ‘should’. “Shoulds” can be used to make you feel bad about yourself and you do not need any of that right now. On top of that, “shoulds” never truly work. Yes, we start off well feeling good about doing something we have told ourselves we should be doing, but very soon the motivation will wain and the inner rebel will kick in like a recalcitrant child; we will feel resentful for ‘having’ to do this. And then we end up feeling even worse. So, be kind, be nurturing to yourself and allow yourself to slow down and relax if that’s what feels good.
Your Body Can Help You Too
Listen to your body! You have a great inner guidance system – how things feel. We talk about our gut instinct and that’s our guidance system. So if you think about doing something and it feels heavy and tiring and uninspiring – maybe it feels like a lead balloon in your body – listen to that feeling and rather than blindingly pushing ahead ask yourself “do I really want to do this?”. Or if you think about another thing and it feels exciting – you know how that feels in your body – then you’ve got pretty good feedback that if you do this it will be a good thing.
Now more than ever we are being given a chance to listen to our inner guidance – we have slowed down enough to be able to hear it – so take this time to practise it so that when things get busier again we will still have this guidance.
Sleep is also crucial in times of stress. Many of my clients have found themselves to be more tired than normal. Of course, this is quite understandable. They have more challenges than normal. Those that are working are having to do so from home with all that entails. Normal rhythms have been upended and so we feel out of sorts. Often the body’s reaction to that is to sleep. So if that’s you – then sleep. Rest and eat well!
Give your body a chance to feel better. Again, this slowdown has given us the chance to reset our body’s rhythms. No longer having to rush everywhere and do everything, we can start to choose what feels best for our body and our health – and that’s a gift.
Meditation Is A Great Support
Meditation is also a great thing to be doing now. If you have a practise then continue it as you already know what a bonus it is to your everyday well-being – both physically and mentally. If you’ve never practised meditation there are many apps out there that you can use.
I even have a free guided meditation on my website you can download. Why meditation? Because you begin to see what your mind is up to and in times of stress it can spin horror stories without us even realising. By noticing your mind’s games you can take control back – focus on something different and the horror story subsides.
Do not believe yourself if you find yourself saying “I can’t meditate”. Everyone can meditate – it is just a matter of expectation. Often people say that they can’t meditate, they can’t stop thinking. Now, there’s the falsehood; meditation is not stopping thinking. No one can stop thinking – because that is a thought in itself.
To meditate is to watch your mind. See what it’s up to. Anyone can watch their thoughts. And watching your thoughts is the first step to quietening the mind and meditating. Some days you may have a shopping list type meditation where your mind is all over the place, and other times it might be quiet. Both are meditation.
Some Ideas To Support Yourself Coming Out Of Lock-Down
You can also use this time to prepare for coming out of the lockdown. It feels as though we are gradually moving towards a phased de-escalation of this trying time. Some countries may be ahead of others – I know here in Spain we are looking at the different phases at the moment.
So, firstly, know that this is going to be gradual. It will not suddenly all open up and things certainly won’t be like before. We will gradually be able to move forward into a new experience. Think about each of the phases that we will go through – and what you’d like to be doing at that time.
For some this opening up feels scary. I know I have friends who are worried about the lock-down easing – worried about the health consequences. So take stock – how do you feel about it? What do you need to do to feel safe? If you’ve been ill or have a compromised immune system what precautions do you feel you need to take as we start to open up the world again? This is your journey – no-one can tell you how you should manage it to feel comfortable and safe within yourself.
Also whilst we are still in lock-down ask yourself this question – “what am I not missing right now?” This is your opportunity to create a different normal for yourself. Some clients of mine have definitely not missed the commute into work but have missed the comradery of being with their teams. Some have not missed the interruptions that occur in the office but have missed the ease of popping in to see someone to ask a question. Some people have not missed the many social engagements that they often feel obliged to go to but have missed lovely informal times with their friends.
So contemplate this – what have you truly missed and how can you get more of that in your new normal? What have you not missed and how can you do less of that? Because this is your chance to create a new normal. If you’ve realised you do not like to do something then think twice about bringing back into life when we open up the world again. If this time is going to gift us anything then choice as to what our life looks like is definitely one of them.
And lastly – once you know the different phases your country is going to be going through to reopen your world – plan one lovely thing to do in each. Have something delicious to look forward to. Here in Spain, we are going to be allowed out for a walk on Saturday – I already know where that walk is going to be and am truly looking forward to it. In two weeks’ time, roadside café’s will be open at 30% capacity – we have already said where we are going to have our first café con leche and tostada for breakfast! And once local travel is allowed, I am definitely going to be going to the stables to ride my lovely horse who has been munching her head off for the past 6 weeks!
What is your ‘coming out’ going to look like? What lovely delicious things are you going to plan as things get eased? What’s your new normal going to look like?
Jessica McGregor Johnson
Jessica McGregor Johnson is an international transformational guide, coach, mentor and the author of two books – Remembering Perfection – Everyday Inspiration for Living your Spirituality and The Right T-Shirt – Write Your Own Rules and Live the Life You Want.
She helps people who are successful, but pretty miserable and stuck and who know that there must be more to life, work out what’s missing and what needs to change. Working with her they learn to listen to their heart, discover themselves anew and gain clarity of what they want in life, whether it be in their work or personal life. Jessica McGregor Johnson then supports them to make the changes necessary and finally get the life they want.
Jessica McGregor Johnson’s signature programme is her Get Unstuck in Two Days Individual Retreat either in Spain or done virtually, and she also works with people via video worldwide.
Discover more at https://www.jessicamcgregorjohnson.com