I’m not quite sure what’s going on or how I feel these last few days. Ever since work finished I’m going through a whirlwind of emotions, happy, sad, anxious, confused, it’s a bizarre rollercoaster I’m not sure how to get out of.
I will take some time to think about it and reflect, but for now I’m trying to enjoy my last week in Italy (for the foreseeable future).
So… last Friday I finally made it to a graphic, gorgeous little village near Reggio where I live, Scilla. And this week’s short and sweet video is all about my daytrip there. Thank you to my fellow teacher friends for an awesome day and special thanks to Fanni for the comic effects!
I’m not sure if anyone other than fellow teachers would understand just how exhausted I feel today, on a Sunday after a week of 6 new courses (on top of my existing ones), using a platform that doesn’t allow pairwork or groupwork, 6 hours of pure pain, mainly just talking for the majority of the time, soul-destroying, plus invigilating and marking and lesson planning and anything else that comes up on a normal week.
But at least we are now allowed outside and I managed to go for a walk by the beach on Friday, which was awesome.
So this week’s video is mostly footage of the outside world that I almost forgot it existed! I can’t wait to go home, enjoy my summer and seriously consider if teaching is for me. 40 days to go.
Inevitably, 7 weeks under lockdown took its toll on me, I found the last few days pretty hard.
I haven’t been that productive, I felt low, sad and stressed. But that’s life. I learned to accept and go through the lows and I feel much better now.
The only reason I’m posting this, getting paranoid about getting ill, feeling low, anxious and sad is to encourage others to do share as well, mental health is as important if not more important than physical health, so there you go. This is one of my lowest moments of the last 7 weeks.
This week’s vlog was a bit late due to our little Easter break, so here’s how I spent it. Not in Vienna or Budapest or Bratislava as I originally planned but it wasn’t as bad as I thought I’d be I guess.
Catch ups with friends, lots of chocolate, pancakes, Netflix, reading, blogging, so all in all it wasn’t too bad.
One of the things that help me with coping under lockdown is having a routine, a rough schedule for the day, as I mentioned on my last post and video, so life feels a bit normal and also to make it easier to adjust when back in ‘normal’ life however that might be.
Now, I’m not the biggest fan of routines and I don’t always stick to it, but it helps a lot when under lockdown, when there’s no clear structure and I can waste a whole day doing nothing if I let my overthinking brain take over. So here it goes, hope you enjoy it, and please share your thoughts and what you are doing to keep you going every day!
For those of you who know me or have been reading my blog for a while, you probably know I struggle with anxiety (severe at times) and bouts of depression, so when hell broke loose a few weeks ago, I was extremely stressed to the point I couldn’t think clearly.
Luckily over the years I’ve developed a bit of resilience and a set of coping mechanisms to help me manage my anxiety and quickly get back in control when my stress levels reach dangerous highs.
So, after the initial shock and panic my survival instincts kicked in and I thought I’d put together a video with what’s been helping me stay sane under lockdown (can’t believe it’s been three weeks already!).
These are the the 10 activities I do most frequently to help me and a few links of books, Ted talks, TV programs etc I mention in the video (more details on each in the video):
Exercise. I’ve been doing my daily yoga with my favourite gal (https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene/playlists), she posts a monthly playlist with videos for each day. I need more exercise though since I’ve been sitting a lot, so any recommendations please comment below!
Music. I somehow stopped listening as much, I don’t really know why, but now I listen and sing every day. Music, food, remedy for the soul, I keep reminding myself that. Thank God for music. In the video I hum a song by my favourite Cypriot musician Mr Costas Kakoyiannis (Αν κοντα σου μεγαλωσω- If I grow up with you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2x3CqSIaJ8) and I try to play and sing I’ll be your mirror, the Velvet Underground cover, on my guitar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMeZCPbM6bA)
Going out. Of course we are not allowed and shouldn’t go out all the time but I try to go out once or twice a week, pop to the shop, just to feel I can be outside.
Reading. I love reading, in the winter with a blanket and a cuppa, in the summer, at the beach, on a plane, on a train. Since I started my first EFL teaching job I had very little free time to read but I’m so happy now I have time. I recommend a couple of books in the video (e.g. Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis and the Guilty Feminist by Deborah Frances White, check out her podcast too, she is brilliant).
Diet. It’s so difficult to stop snacking when living a sedentary life, but I stopped buying too many and/or too unhealthy snacks so I don’t end up binge-eating all day.
Catching up with friends. Keeping in touch with friends and family is vital, we are social animals after all, we need human interaction but I sometimes find it too overwhelming with all the messages I get, so I have regular breaks so I can cope, plus it helps reduce screen time.
Netflix. I’m a huge Netflix fan and there’s a great selection of TV series, films and documentaries to watch. I try not to watch too much, though tempting, as I spend too much time in front of a screen since I teach online, but thank God we have Netflix. I recently watched a documentary, my Beautiful Broken Brain, which was amazing). I’d love to start a new series though, so any suggestions, please do comment! PS I of course still watch friends every day.
Routine. Being at home all day, it’s easy for someone with a hyperactive brain like me to lose concentration, get lost into my own thoughts and waste time deciding when to do what, I find it too chaotic, so keeping up with a routine helps, a lot. I’ll make another video about this.
Expressing your emotions. This is HUGE. Society taught us one of the unhealthiest narratives of all time, that expressing our emotions is a weakness. It’s the opposite actually, being vulnerable and open about how we feel it’s the bravest thing one can do, especially in these difficult times we live under right now. I highly recommend Bene Brown’s TED talk on vulnerability, definitely worth a watch: https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_the_power_of_vulnerability?language=en
Playing an instrument. I’ve been playing the guitar on and off for years, but now I have time to learn how to read music properly and improve my playing. A great way to stay away from screens!
If you’ve been doing something that has been helping you, please share, it may help someone else, that’s the reason I’m doing it.
I’m also trying to put together a video with hopeful/funny/inspiring messages of friends, family and strangers to spread some joy and positivity, so if you like to be part of me, just email me a short 10-15 sec video with your message (firstname.lastname@example.org). It can be in any language, just provide me with the transcript and I’ll translate and put subtitles in English 🙂
Day 16 of lockdown. Today it’s been a good day. I guess we’ll have some bad, terrible ones and some better, funnier, happier ones, and today it was the latter.
I got outside to pop to the school and print the new forms we all required to have if stopped by the police to justify why we are outside where I saw two familiar faces, Marco, the school director and Bryony, a fellow teacher and it felt AMAZING to actually talk to people I know and appreciate face to face.
I then popped to the supermarket for my weekly shopping, an experience I always find stressful under the circumstances, queueing outside, people in close proximity, the only place I might actually catch the virus (you can see footage on today’s vlog below).
Finally some incredible news. The cases of Coronavirus in the local area are now going down, so maybe, just maybe this is the beginning of the end of this horrible situation.
A huge admiration and a thank you to every single person who is out there, from shop assistants to delivery drivers to medical staff, risking their lives every day to keep everyone else safe, healthy and fed.
And to those who think are invincible and don’t care if they catch the virus. I don’t care if I catch it either (though of course scared), but I’m doing this to protect others. So don’t be a ****head and stay home.