April 1st, 2020: It’s a Mad World out there.

Finding My Strength – Rise like a Phoenix

I thought I’d start today’s blog with my collage illustration. I feel like it now not only signifies what I was trying to portray and identify, but also a state of mind with society during the covid-19 pandemic.

I’ve been slowly processing all of my thoughts over the past three weeks, which is why I’ve yet to complete this post… I seem to have typed up a bit here and there, but never enough to tie the sentences together. So before I begin, I apologise for the disordered, unstructured writing – Just think of it as a picture of my mind…

When I posted my collage I wrote a piece which I put with it. I don’t think I’d have written it if we hadn’t been going through what’s been happening lately, and I am sure that at a later date, I will reflect on it again and find even more words, thoughts and feelings, but for now – I share with you that post, before I begin to type the thoughts as they come…

Finding My Strength
bright – SURVIVE – strange life
i am
I am finding my voice again
I am learning
it feels like I am a rising – glowing – SPIRIT
without my experiences I would not be where I am today
This is a reflective piece of work, as I draw attention to my thoughts on how I see myself as a graduate in 2023. It may seem quite far away right now, but this journey is going to have moments where it flies by and moments where it feels like time stands still.
Time feels like it’s standing still right now. I’m at a loss with what to do. When endings don’t come as you expect and things happen all of a sudden, there is a huge amount of anxiety. Today I have found myself feeling all the emotions. I started off happy and positive – taking everything moment by moment, even saying I’d take it day by day. But I have since experienced panic attacks, pain in my chest as I breathe and come to the realisation that the first year at university is over. Unexpectedly. No more assignments to do. It is confusing. I am making plans to continue my learning in the best way possible, but I think it is going to take every piece of me to get through the next few months, find the determination to succeed and hold onto hope. There is a loss, but I am somewhat thankful. I cannot imagine the stress and anxiety students are faced with with GCSE and A level cancellations, and the unknowing of what’s happening with Level 5s, 6s and so on. My thoughts channel to them, and I feel heartbroken for them. Not being able to have the celebrations they all deserve for completing such an amazing and hopefully fulfilling academic experience. My heart aches for so many people right now, and as much as I feel myself worrying about others, I know that I need to take the time to focus on myself. It feels selfish to do this, but I know it’s a must. It’s a strange time for us all, and I hope that this pandemic doesn’t go on for too long. The destruction it is causing is all too much for us. We need to be able to heal.
Look after yourselves. Take time to process your thoughts, your feelings and emotions. Reach out if you need to. Together, we will get through this.

There is so much uncertainty for the upcoming days, weeks and months ahead, and the anxiety in knowing that this pandemic is going to affect possibly years to come also adds to the feelings of despair and hopelessness – And this isn’t including those who have unfortunately lost a loved one to the coronavirus.

It’s been a tough time lately and whilst I thought I’d been managing it, it wasn’t until the tightness in my chest occured during a shopping trip, that I realised my anxiety had got the better of me, causing a panic attack. This seems to be a current state of mind for me – and I am certain that I’m not alone with this thought or feeling.

We are being bombarded with information, that we barely get a chance to think anymore. Everyone is running wild, that there’s no wonder many panicked and brought the entire stock from every supermarket. It’s all too much, and right now it feels like it really is a fight for survival, whether you feel physically unwell or not. Health anxiety is on the increase, mental illness is most definitely on the increase. With finances being a huge burden on families unable to work, or the stress of those who still need to work (NHS and key workers), everyone is running into the ground, that we’re not only at war with covid-19, but we’re also at war with ourselves.

However, that being said –

Communities have seen residents pull together and find ways at supporting one another, whether that’s checking on a neighbour, offering to dog walk, or pop to the shops for the essentials for those who are on the ‘high-risk and vulnerable’ list. Neighbours are talking to each other for perhaps the first time, and some are even dancing on the streets for their daily exercise – keeping at a social distance of at least 2 metres apart, unless they’re part of the same household. The NHS and caregivers and key workers are being recognised for the incredible work they do. It’s a shame it takes a pandemic for this to happen, but nonetheless, they are being noticed and they are our every day heroes. We’re seeing the communities standing on their doorstop at 8pm, ready to clap and cheer, and the overwhelming emotion certainly has an affect on us all.

Local illustrator Steve Turner aka Squidoodle created a free colouring sheet for everyone and they’ve been going up in windows nationwide… Click the image to visit his website:

Kent based illustrator – Steve Turner

We’re seeing celebrities perform gigs, storytelling, exercise classes and music classes all for free online, and the helping professions such as therapists, counsellors, coaches, and mentors, are reducing prices for video-call appointments, or offering free activities online. Bloggers and authors are writing about their experiences, and charities are pullng out all the stops to ensure that wellbeing is a priority, aside from washing your hands and keeping a safe distance from others.

The abundance of love, care and generosity has given people something positive to focus on. #CovidKindness became a hashtag, and it saw people sending gifts from across the world to each other. I was so lucky to be gifted some beautiful wishes.

There is a reason I wanted to share these with you:

An Act of Kindness

I was gifted Self-Care Thoughts – small wooden discs with laser-cut affirmations, including the phrases ‘I am Strong’ and, ‘I’ve Got This!!’ Words I need to remind myself – A LOT. They are light enough for me to carry around with me, and a fab sensory item for keeping my hands busy when they run wild.

Aside from these, I also received some lovely wrist warmers, roll-on oils, cute sunflower plant to grow for bees and nail varnish (not pictured), which are all amazing gifts!

My wishlist also contained Affirmation and Mindfulness cards from embracingmindfulness.com. These are things which I have wanted to work with for some time now, but if ever there was a time to use them – now would be that time! Receiving these through the post, at a time when I have been feeling out of sorts, and granted, we’re all feeling like this – I felt that being able to share a couple of the cards and why they’re so important to maintaining a healthy mental – and physical wellbeing.

Click on the images to enlarge and read about Secret Kindness and The Five Senses Check-in:

Although I knew a couple of the gifters, some were done anonymously.
The act of kindness is something most of us have been showing over the past few weeks. I also took part in the #CovidKindness sending out a couple of gifts, and whilst we all know that finances are tight, I know that the gifts are going to be welcomed, be enjoyed, and put smiles on faces – to let them know that we’re all in this together and that we are all there for each other.

The ‘Keep Calm and Stress Less’ cards (like the ones in the photos above) have daily activities to allow us to reflect and challenge our inner-self. I’ve never been one to sit or lie down and meditate, it’s too difficult with my thoughts on ‘a broken tap’. I’m unable to turn it off, and even when I try so hard to, there’s always a drip before they come flowing out again – And whilst it’s okay to let those thoughts come and go, they don’t seem to go. For me, they stay and lead on from one to another, and another… It’s exhausting. So I want to be able to find other ways of being mindful, because it’s not all about being physically still and experiencing complete silence, but it is about being present in the moment and being able to feel and control your experience.

One of the ways I do this is to use the five senses technique, so I was really pleased to see this one listed amongst the cards. Using this technique is a great way at grounding, particulary if you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious or panicked.

In that intense moment, if you can –

Try to find 5 things you can see
4 things you can feel,
3 things you can hear,
2 things you can smell and
1 thing you can taste.

Of course, doing this in different places and at different times will enhance the experience. It’s good practice and helps ground you and bring your attention back to you in the moment, and not what you were feeling overwhelmed, panicked or anxious about.

Affirmation Cards

Affirmations can be found everywhere – On notebooks, pencil cases, t-shirts, slogans and advertising campaigns, yet how much do we actually pay attention to and accept what’s written in front of us? Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Sometimes I might read something and take a snapshot of it, but when I have over 1000+ photos on my phone, am I really going to be going through them all to read those affirmations and let the words etch into my mind? Probably not. They’ll all go onto an external hard-drive waiting to be gone through, like the thousands of other images still waiting for that to happen. I know I’m not the only one who does this!

Unfortunately, we are living in a “disposable world”. Information is everywhere, we don’t need to learn much because it’s ALL online. We can read something and dispose of it and when we need it again, it’s still there somewhere in cyberspace. We don’t give ourselves a chance to take in what we’re reading, seeing or listening to – So what happens when we do?

We grow.

We develop.

We advance.

We excel.

Affirmations are those sayings we need to hold onto to help us get to where we want to be in life. Mostly when you’re filled with self-doubt, or when you want to move forwards and learn about forgiveness.

We find it easy to give others praise, but when it comes to giving ourselves a bit of self-love, we shut ourselves down, listen to the inner critic and despise those thoughts which others would simply disagree with. I am terrible when it comes to a bit of self-love. There’s a lack of confidence, I have no self-esteem and I doubt my capabilties. This is despite all these things being proven that I am capable, and I can present myself in a confident way, and sometimes I can find that self-esteem – More so when I think about my journey in life and my aspirations. After all, these are parts of me which make my identity. It doesn’t stop those negative thoughts to overshadow the positives though, so I want to work hard at reminding myself of all things I am, but also work on believing it!

Even though I am picking out a new card every couple of days, I selected a few to share because again, I feel that these are ones we all are very quick to shut ourselves down on – Generosity, Gratitude, Self-Expectation and Self-Forgiveness.

Read the cards, and see if you agree. If so, read those affirmations to yourself. If it helps write it down and stick it on the mirror in the bathroom, or on the kettle so every time you get up in the morning to brush your teeth or make a cup of tea, you can remind yourself of something positive about YOU!

So, I’m going to wrap this up now, but before I do – I want to bring your attention back to the beginning of this post:

… And it’s okay to feel overwhelmed, scared, anxious and uncertain or unsure of what’s to come. These are uncertain times, and all we can do is ensure we all support and look out for one another. Like the phoenix, we will rise. We will emerge from the lockdown and self-isolation due to covid-19, stronger, smarter and oh, so much more powerful. As a community, as a nation, as a world, we are united and surviving. We’ve got this. Remind yourself every day to be kind to yourself, because you’ve got this – Even if you don’t know what day it is, or what Netflix series you’re going to binge-watch next – You’ve got this. We are all in this together and we will get through it.

Before I leave, I found some amazing links with resources on home activities. One of the links is creating a self-care box, and at some point I will be writing about mine, which I’m looking forward to doing, so watch this space.

If you made it to the end of this, thank you so much for bearing with!
It’s been a VERY strange few weeks with university “life” and I’ll be addressing it all on another post because this one led down another path!

Take care and look after each other – And don’t forget to wash your hands for 20 seconds!

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