…from my last blog and its five tips to kick-start your day, here are another five for the rest of the day, some more serious than others. I hope one or two contribute to a more positive Lockdown Mark 2, as well as life after we emerge. And some great quotes may inspire you and raise a smile .
Life’s too short for daily dusting...do what you enjoy
This is very personal, but my sixth tip is that your home does not need to be cleaned to within an inch of its life. Your hands yes, furniture no. Of course, if you enjoy housework, that’s a totally different matter – move swiftly on to tip 7.
The only positive I take from cleaning is that it counts as physical activity. For example, vacuuming is good for strengthening arms, legs and core muscles. But dusting isn’t great exercise, although it is better than sitting in a chair for hours on end ….
But, I admit I’m with Joan Rivers on housework:-
During these last months, with no one coming inside the house (and being naturally unobservant), my standards have slipped considerably. I’ve found leaving dust to accumulate until you (or your household) can’t ignore the sight of it any longer, provides far greater motivation to clean, as well as greater satisfaction afterwards.
It also gives you time to do something you really enjoy, which, in my opinion, is more important. Time is limited and precious. I don’t imagine anyone at the end of their life regretted spending too little time on housework.
‘May you live every day of your life’ Jonathan Swift.
Luckily, I don’t feel guilty or ashamed – well, perhaps a little. But if someone sees our dust cloud, I’m sure it makes them feel better about the state of their home, so I’m giving joy to others.
And anyway isn’t dirt supposed to be good for you, building up your immune system? And we all need a good immune system right now!
Standards will probably rise once normal life returns but, until then, I will have enjoyed many extra hours in which to chat, read, walk, watch TV or just ‘be’.
You need less clothes …so help your local charity shops
Being at home most of the time during this pandemic, I’ve come to accept I have too many clothes, (something my husband has gently been pointing out for several decades). I probably have more than enough to see me out, even if I live to a ripe old age – unless I put on so much weight during lockdown, that I need a whole new wardrobe.
So, I’ve given clothes I rarely wore, now or before lockdown, to our local charity shops. Giving to others is good for you (and is another of my steps for a happier life). Hopefully others will benefit, but I’ve benefited too. I feel better after decluttering, and I now have some space in my cupboards to see what’s left.
And shopping less, I’ve saved money and time, another positive for me, although sadly not for the retail sector.
I’ve also found almost everything is perfectly wearable without ironing these days, if you hang it up or wear non-iron or easy care. Opportunities for an outing of the must-iron ‘posh frock’ have disappeared. And making-up every day isn’t compulsory. More time saved. However, visits to my hairdresser when permitted are essential. Grey is definitely not my colour; I was born to be brown haired.
It’s very tempting to now live in track suit bottoms, even for meetings as no one sees below your waist on Zoom – until you forget and get up for a coffee or loo break! But I actually feel better and more positive when I make a bit of an effort, so I do, from time to time, for my well being and to remind myself of pre-pandemic me. As the days (and my hair) become greyer, I also find wearing brighter colours is hugely cheering. Red is the new black!
Reduce stress…Get out, preferably in nature
‘Stop and smell the roses’ both literally and metaphorically.
I find it all too easy to vegetate indoors, especially if the weather’s bad, but being outside is great for mental health, reducing stress and improving wellbeing.
I know a big plus of lockdown for me – as for many others – has been spending time outside, hearing birdsong and really noticing and appreciating flowers, trees, the birds and the bees, which (as a born and bred Londoner) had largely passed me by. It also provides much needed Vitamin D. Back to gratitude, living in the present, mindfulness, and valuing the small pleasures of life.
And if you walk, or do some other physical activity outdoors, it’s a double win, improving your physical health as well as your outlook and mood. I just hope I can motivate myself to continue my walks once winter arrives. Actually, I dislike walking in the rain, so exercise will then be ‘Zoom’ dancing. But we’ve now invested in a small pop-up gazebo and I plan to sit outside (wearing half of what’s left of my wardrobe) watching rain drops that keep falling – but hopefully not – on my head!
Have a weekly routine which gives you a sense of purpose
I, and many others, have learned during the last seven months that you need structure to your week.
I’ve found it really helpful to do things regularly on a certain day of the week – for one thing it helps me remember which day it is!
And physical activity, learning, working, volunteering, and hobbies can give our lives purpose, as well as achieving those short term goals on the ‘To Do’ list! (See my last blog for more).
I get huge pleasure from connecting with family and friends (with regular video calls and virtual dinners), my activities and voluntary responsibilities ….. It all helps my life feel worthwhile now I’m retired, and particularly when other pursuits are suspended during these ‘unprecedented’ times.
And purpose is another key requirement for ageing joyfully and a life well-lived.
…Be kind to yourself and have fun
This is especially important right now. So give yourself some slack – giving to yourself is an important part of giving.
You’re probably not in the same mindset as you were before all this began. So, don’t expect to feel a million – or even a handful of – dollars. Indeed that would be odd, given the current global situation, unless you happen to be a hermit living up a remote mountain – or Amazon! And it’s OK to wobble, (mentally, as well as physically), and to be feeling anxious. Of course, if your mental health has been seriously affected you should seek help.
If you can, try to accept there are some things (such as a global pandemic) that we cannot control. But, happily, we can be in control of our actions and attitudes – which brings me back to where I started in my last blog.
‘Energy and persistence conquer all things’ Benjamin Franklin
- do what you can;
- focus on the positives – because there are some;
- believe things will get better – because they will;
- remember nothing is forever; and
- spend time on things that make you happy.
I love the following quote (even though, unlike Gene Kelly, I’m very unlikely to dance in the rain):
So start dancing …good luck..
and until we ‘meet’ again in a couple of weeks…
Stay safe, stay strong; stay smiling.