Meditation, Mental Stability, Prioritizing Life, Positivity, Wholistic Living

5 Ways to Cope with working from home during COVID19

I dont know about you but the last few weeks have been a roller coaster ride for me! The world has changed and will most likely never return back to the normal that we knew  prior to December 2019. With all of these new changes underway, it is important that we learn to adapt to those changes, flow with the tide so that we are not swept under by the current. The way we have now been forced to live, move around and communicate has tested even the very fabric and theory of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

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In my own personal experience of being in lockdown since March 16th 2020, I have had to process how this new norm has impacted me emotionally and physically.  When the national address by our local authority (Bahamas) was issued on Sunday March 15th announcing that all schools would be closed until further notice, I immediately began taking the necessary steps for the way forward.  I knew that given the present circumstances, it was only a matter of time before the domino effect would begin.  If the children were now out of school then the parents of those children would obviously be working from home next.

Work laptops had been distributed and a Business Continuity Plan set in place at least two weeks prior to the national announcement. None of us were truly mentally prepared for what is now the second month of a 24hour curfew with complete lockdown on weekends.

Back in the day, this would have been my ideal arrangement! Being able to home school my son while working from home would have been a dream come true for me.  They say be careful what you pray for, you just might get it. Well, its now 6 weeks in and I am just now settling into this new temporary set up of being a working professional wife and mother operating from home.

The first two weeks were a major challenge to say the least. And there were a few days of total melt down and temper tantrums…not from my son, but me!

You see, I work in a very fast paced, high intensity environment where my primary function is not only time sensitive but carries a very high degree of risk. Where I would normally be sitting in the front of two large computer monitors which assists me in my daily routine of working between multiple applications; I was now confined to a small laptop doing the exact same work, volume and all.  My husband, who is classified as an essential worker, has continued as normal, going out each morning and working a full day. So imagine the chaos in the first few days! Now I had to manage an over active demanding three year old boy at home alone while trying to meet the demands of this new virtual office set up. Oh did I mention that I was only 2 months into this new position before COVID 19 lockdown started?! Not to mention that my every move was being closely monitored.  Lets just say anxieties were high and so was the pressure to deliver on everything I had sold myself to be…

Between the noisy toddler who refused stay in his section of the house and me trying to adjust to my new work environment outside of the new position, my stress level had hit an entirely new high!

In the first week I attempted to keep the usual morning routine. I woke my son up as I would normally do for school, getting him and myself dressed (bath and lounge clothes).  I would prepare breakfast, set it up in the t.v. room and put on his favorite educational program and then anxiously proceed to my work station which I had set up on my family’s dining room table.

After the first week I realized that  I was working longer hours in my attempt to meet unrealistic deadlines given the circumstances, closing down my laptop sometimes way past the 5pm cut off.

By the end of week two I was feeling extremely drained and depleted mentally and physically.  I was not enjoying this work from home experience at all and at some points I felt very far removed from enjoying the opportunities that had really been afforded to me.  I needed to recalibrate my mind.  I could not do anything about what was happening but I needed to change how I viewed the entire situation and focus on what I could change.  The serenity prayer needed to be invoked.

I needed to stay calm. I needed to reevaluate my responses and reactions in all situations before I allowed my thoughts to be released from my mind.  It took a few weeks but I am finally getting into the groove of truly being at peace with everything.

I am finally seeing the privileges that the present circumstances have afforded us rather than the pains.  I enjoy the privilege of sleeping an hour later and being able to walk the short distance from the bedroom to my work station at the dining room table in my PJs.  There is no morning commute traffic and no pressure to look my best during the daily virtual team meetings.

I enjoy opening up the front door and sliding door located right off the dining room to let in the morning breeze, inviting the sunbeams to shine through as I make my morning coffee at my leisure. I now allow my son to sleep longer.  He wakes up at whatever time nature allows, and this affords me a smoother morning flow; a time to mentally and spiritually prepare for the long day ahead.

When MJ (my son) wakes up I do not restrict his play time or the time that he takes to complete his school assignments. I don’t pressure him or get upset when I see him losing focus.  He’s three and if he retains anything right now, it will most likely be the memory of how he felt during his time spent at home with mommy. My only request from him is that he allows me to work undisturbed in my work area while he plays in his.  “Only interrupt mommy if you need to eat, use the bathroom or change the channel.” He is catching on and this new arrangement has proven successful over the last 3 weeks…Thank God! 🙂

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I don’t know for sure how long this new lifestyle is expected to last, but I have determined to make the best of it.  I plan to take in every moment and see it as an opportunity to grow, reflect and retreat. Once its gone and we return back to the hustle and bustle of everyday life, I dont want to have any regrets about how I spent this time.

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Here are a few tips that I applied to my current lifestyle change that I feel would be helpful to my readers:

  1. Take Mental Breaks:  You cannot pour from an empty cup. It is imperative that you find the time to focus on your self care.  Your physical body needs rest in order to operate at its optimum level.  You need to know when you have reached your limit-take a break from the work.  This was one thing that I was failing to do during my daily routine and that is why by the end of the work day I was feeling so drained.  You might not be able to take a full lunch hour break, but find at least 15-20 minutes within the work day to move away from your workstation and do what relaxes you.  For me its simply moving into the t.v. room, kicking back in the recliner while I enjoy my lunch then closing my eyes for a few minutes before returning to work.  Sounds simple but I found that it has made a world of difference to simply get away from the virtual office for an hour or so.  At the end of the work week I literally break my workstation down and put it away in a room where I don’t have to see it.  Literally, out of sight, out of mind! And I enjoy my weekend in the company of my family, doing the things that we love together.
  2. Be Creative:  Being restricted to your home does not restrict your ability to create. What would you normally do for recreation, fulfillment or selfcare?   Perhaps its a service that you pay for others to provide to you.  Maybe its a place that you retreat to at the end of a busy week.  Why not try recreating those same experiences from the comfort of your home! I am a girly girl, so I love being pampered.  Getting massages, hair and nails done professionally at least once per month is that selfcare gift to myself. So in my attempt to feel some level of normalcy during the lockdown, all things considered, I purchased a nail gel manicure system on Amazon, which cost me under a $100.00. I unashamedly admit that I had the most exciting and exhilarating feeling when it arrived, two weeks ago! Just to see the colors and quality of the product was enough for me to connect with my past spa experiences (my happy place).  I was eager to test my own skills out and even though the first time around I didn’t quite meet the standards of my regular nail tech, it still gave me a sense of accomplishment and recreation. I have friends that like to dine out on the weekends-trying new restaurants and their favorite dishes takes them to their happy place.  So since they couldn’t get to their favorite spots they instead spend their evenings and weekends recreating different recipes at home. If the things you like to do requires hand skills then your creative juices should thrive in this current environment.  I found that Pinterest is a very useful tool to help harness your creativity. The only limitation is your state of mind.
  3. Find Inspiration: It is important to tune into the positive especially during this time of bad news constantly bombarding the media; which can play a toll on your mental and emotional wellbeing and balance.  Sometimes you have to intentionally disconnect from social media and find inspiration for your soul. It might be a book, an album, a song, a YouTube channel but it is vitally important to recharge mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Some days, the stress level is higher than others.  On those days, I am intentional about replenishing my spiritual energy.  I draw a hot bath, pour in my bath salts and bubbles, set up my personal laptop (away from the water!), find a topic that is fitting to my spiritual needs at the time and I tune in.  Feel free to add in your favorite cup/glass of beverage, maybe some scented candles for that added effect.  Whatever your preference, it is important to note here that your spirit is more vulnerable than you think and you must choose a reputable source to draw from. Just as you would not eat physical food from anywhere for fear of falling sick physically, so is the same for your spirituality. Be careful what you allow into your hearing. Shut down anything that makes you feel depressed, condemned or sad. Choose wisely, listen, meditate, relax- create your own sanctuary of peace and serenity amidst the chaos.
  4. Stay Connected: In a world of new technology, physical distancing doesn’t mean that you have to disconnect from family and friends.  Now more than ever, it is important to remain technologically connected with the people that you love and are unable to physically connect with.  Use platforms such as WhatsApp, Skype and Zoom to check in with your family and friends regularly, specifically those living alone.  I would imagine that this lockdown might be weighing more heavily on those persons emotionally.  When you speak to your family and friends, make sure to keep the communication light hearted though.  No COVID 19 topics of gloom and doom, you hear enough of that already…Find out how your loved ones are doing when you connect?  Truly listen to them, not with the intent to respond but to understand how they are really doing. Let them know how important they are to you. Talk about regular life happenings, events and future plans.  Keep hope and faith at the forefront of your conversations, always.
  5. Plan Ahead: I think it is safe to conclude that out of the human needs according to Maslow, the need for safety/security seems to be heading the chart right now.  With the level of uncertainty around us and the ever changing tides globally, no one is exempt from the possibilities of the trickling effects at the end of COVID 19.  The only saving grace that we have is to be as prudent as possible when it comes to our plans where it involves spending.  Now that I am working from home, I have found that I have been able to save more because I don’t have to worry about filling up my car tank with gas for the commute to work.  At least 3-4 days out of the work week when I was in office I would carry my packed lunch from home, treating myself to Starbucks or a nice lunch some Thursdays and Fridays, whereas now I make all of my breakfast and lunch meals at home.  The same is true where our son is concerned.  We would have normally been paying school fees on a weekly basis which included breakfast and lunch.  We were able to save a few hundred dollars for the month of April since our son has been homeschooling, purchasing most of his favorite foods wholesale/ bulk which has saved us a good chunk of change as well.  In fact, I have found that our largest bill at the end of the month is not the mortgage or utility bills, its food.  So what we have now committed to doing is purchasing none perishable food items and household necessities such as toiletries and cleaning products wholesale as appose to retail purchasing.  This small lifestyle change has already saved us at least $1,000.00 in just a few short weeks.  Also, my husband and I have already concluded that our travel plans for 2020 are cancelled. Although I had such high anticipation for our summer family vacation abroad, I chose to see the brighter side of things with the monkey wrench being thrown in our plans.  The money that we were allocating towards travel expenses and recreation we can now add back to our savings.  All monies will be applied to contingency planning and other much needed family goals to be accomplished should everything go well once the dust has settled.  And, instead of airline tickets, hotel accommodations and rental car expenses we can do a staycation,  planning entertainment activities around local sites which we anticipate to begin opening back up by summer at the very least. That’s a whole lot of savings if you ask me…and who would complain about that?

I know this post was long but as usual I had to take you through my journey so that you can see how my methods have been tried, tested and proven before providing any kind of advice or suggestions to my readers.

I do hope that this post has been not only an inspiration to you but also a guide to a healthier, happier lifestyle change…

Be safe, stay healthy and continue to do your part to help heal the world.

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Blessings and Love.

 

Forgiveness, Healthy Living, Healthy Mindset, Godly Living, Mental Wellness, Uncategorized

Once Bitten…

We all know the expression “Once bitten, twice shy”. Well I don’t know about you but personally that saying had become a mantra in my life at one point. For years, I walked from one year into another bound by the spirit of unforgiveness and felt justified in walking in it because I felt that I was the victim. Little that I knew, in attempting to move forward with that mindset, I was actually delaying my own progress and subsequently giving even greater power to my offenders. It took some time to come to the realization that I had gone from being the victim to now creating my own self inflicted wounds.
In this post, I would like to talk about forgiveness, letting go and moving on. First things first. Let’s establish God’s take on Forgiveness.
In Matthew 6: 14-15 it states:
“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your father will not forgive your sins.”
If we sit and think about the magnitude of God’s love towards us, that He would go to the extent of sending His beloved son in human form to suffer through the beggarly elements of this worldly system, to be ridiculed, abused, mocked, beaten, humiliated and suffer the most brutal death under the hands of men just for our sins. To have gone to such an extent just to save us from eternal death, then turn around and say “Yes, I did all of that for you but if you do not forgive the people that hurt you then I won’t forgive you.” Now to the human intellect, this doesn’t seem reasonable but you must understand that God is a God of principles. If we are to walk and act as though we are made in His image and likeness, then we must reflect His nature and character even when it hurts to do so.
Ok, I know what some of you may say “You have no idea what he/she did to me!” “You have no idea what I had to go through because of them…” No, I don’t know your personal experience, but I think we can all relate to being hurt by someone.
I know all too well how it feels to be hurt not just by random people, but by family and those I considered to be friends. My experience of emotional and sometimes even physical abuse go as far back as childhood. And in many of those instances, it was usually perpetrated by those that I allowed myself to become vulnerable to.
As I got older and began to establish my adult relationships, I began to notice a pattern though. I realized that my introverted personality helped me to master the art of suppressing my pain and anger. And what I would do is allow the pain of what people would say or do to me to fester without openly addressing it. So, I never really released from my heart, the people that had wronged me. In the blog post, “Clean Hands, Impure Heart”, I talk about coming to terms with this realization during a teaching by my late senior pastor. He talked about “iniquities” which were the hidden sins of the heart. He said, sometimes we see people that appear to be living a Holy life; to the natural eye they appear to have it all together as far as their Christian walk is concerned, their hands are by all intent and purpose “clean”. However, hidden in their hearts are unresolved issues such as pride, bitterness, envy, jealousy and unforgiveness.
I discovered years ago, that harboring unforgiveness is like drinking a cup of poison with the expectation that the person who has hurt you would feel the effects of it. Rather, your holding on to that resentment, bitterness or pain hurts you more than it hurts the other person that you hold in contempt. In most cases, you will find that the other person has moved on with their lives, and you are left trying to fight through those internal battles resulting in sleeplessness and generally an unhappy life with unhealthy relationships as a result of not being able to let go.
Sometimes we are apprehensive to forgive because we feel that others might interpret our forgiveness as a sign of weakness or vulnerability. One might even feel as though forgiving the other person would indicate validation of their actions towards you, or in other words “I am ok with what you did”, but it doesn’t mean that at all.
Forgiving the other person actually magnifies your strength and maturity. It puts you in control of the situation and in control of your own emotions. Forgiving means “although I do not agree with what you did, I make a conscious decision to be the bigger person and release myself of any negative thoughts or emotions that is causing me my peace and could possibly hinder my relationship with God and my emotional wellbeing.”
Forgiveness for some does not come easy and the process to get through it is often times determined by the severity of the offense. Some of us are holding onto unresolved issues with a superior, coworkers or just an acquaintance. While some of us have gone through years of repeated emotional and even physical abuse under the hands of a guardian, significant other, family member or close friend. Whatever the depth of your scars, I have jotted down a few steps that have helped me to get through my process of forgiveness.
1. Understand the “Why”: It is often difficult to come to terms with “what” someone did to cause the hurt, discomfort, inconvenience or loss that you experience as a result of their bad judgement or actions. However, in my experience with working through the process of forgiveness, I have found that when I took the time to properly analyze a person’s behavior towards me, it made it easier to process. Being able to work through why a person does what they do helps to put a lot of things into perspective and it helps you to see things from a different vantage point as oppose to seeing it through the lens of the victim. BUT Simone, what if I never find out their “why”? Good question! Which leads me to the next point.
2. Understand the Season: Very early on in my adult life I was introduced to the concept of seasons and relationships. This has helped me a great deal to be able to release people from personal expectations. Some people come into your life for a specific purpose and season. Knowing the role that they play, the lessons you should learn from them in that season and when the season has ended will free you up from feelings of resentment and bitterness when the relationship begins to take a turn for the worse. Sometimes it means that there is merely a breakdown in communication and perhaps issues can be resolved by simply sitting down and talking it over. Of course disagreements are inevitable and necessary for any healthy relationship but you must recognize the signs of when a relationship is coming to the end of its season. I have found that once you begin to see a continuous or habitual trend that is associated with negative behavior and a lack of peace, then that is most likely an indication that it is time to move on. Understand, not everyone is meant to play the role of loyal longtime confidant in your life. And this does not mean that you have to completely cut people off. Its ok to re-categorize relationships without throwing them completely away. Relationship categories can change over time but you have to know at what point the shift has taken place or you will find yourself becoming angry or disappointed by the other person’s actions or lack thereof because of misplaced expectations. Once you are able to decipher between seasons, it will make life a whole lot easier for you. Carrying someone or something into one season that you should have let go in a past season can and will create unnecessary stress. Dare I say, moving into a season with what you should have left behind in another season can contaminate and poison your vision for the new season. Whether it is a job, a business, a community, a plutonic relationship or otherwise, it is very important to know when to let go. Disclaimer: This point is NOT intended for married couples. Please seek professional counseling before making any life altering decision concerning your marriage; especially if children are involved.
3. Take back Control: the longer you allow what they did to affect you emotionally, the more control you continue to give them over your emotions. Rather, choose to redirect that pent up energy in a more productive fulfilling way. Investing your time into an activity that adds value to your life will help to take your mind off of the negative. What have you always wanted to do but never could find the time to do it? Maybe it’s taking a course, starting a new business, completing a project, joining an organization, making an investment, going on a trip somewhere you have always wanted to go. Whatever it is, channel some of that energy and fill up that mind space with self-improvement/self-empowerment activities; you will be surprised at the positive outcome. It is important to note that whatever you choose to do, it is with the right motivation though. Do it because it is something that you truly want to do and not to get back at the other person or to gain revenge. Make sure that your heart is completely in it. If not, you would have defeated the purpose. Busy yourself with making your life better instead of focusing on what the other person did or is doing. You will find that once you become so caught up in “doing you” that you will be too tired to think about anything or anyone else. By the time you’re through embarking on your journey, you would have created new lasting positive memories. And the memory of the last season will be a distant one, with no emotional strings attached.
4. Protect your Health: I am a firm believer that the quality of one’s life is not determined by any external factor, but rather by the condition of their heart. Nothing or nobody is worth the value of your inner peace. The longer we hold on to unforgiveness, the more the seed of bitterness grows like a cancer; thus making us vulnerable to both physical and mental malfunction. Proverbs 14: 30 (AMP version) states “A calm and peaceful and tranquil heart is life and health to the body, but passion and envy are like rottenness to the bones.” You have to deliberately make a decision that your health is more important than holding on to bitterness. Proverbs 13: 12 says “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” As mentioned in point 3, it is very crucial to your healing that you release the weight of disappointment which comes from the expectation that you have placed on others. Unresolved disappointment will steal your joy and peace! The best way to move pass the stage of disappointment is to take on the mindset that besides God, YOU are the only person in control of your inner peace and mental well-being. Everyone else, regardless of who they are, are never obligated to making you happy; that is too great a responsibility to give any human being.
5. Close the Door: Last but certainly not least, this (in my opinion) is the most important step to overcoming unforgiveness. In order to truly be delivered from the stronghold of unforgiveness it is important to talk to God about how you are feeling. In your quiet time with God, be completely honest about what happened and how it made you feel. In some cases, you might have an opportunity to confront your offender and express yourself the way you want to but this is rare. What better way to release all of that than during your private devotion? Allow the Holy Spirit to begin peeling back the damaged layers of your heart until you look and sound more like Christ. And remember forgiveness is a process but once you get through it, it is important not to keep revisiting the past. You have to let it go! Close the door and never reopen it again except as a point of reference when to help others through their process.

So there you have it. These steps have helped me with overcoming unforgiveness and I hope that this post will assist someone in moving into 2019 with a renewed heart and mind. Blessings and Love!

“When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.” Bernard Meltzer