As the Covid-19 lock down loomed, I found myself listening to and watching blanket news coverage, thinking this would help me feel calmer. However, I gradually realised that my need to stay constantly informed while simultaneously trying to keep to my BC (before Covid-19) routine was making me more anxious.

A different approach. I noticed that actively putting more focus on positives such as reaching out to family and friends - virtually or by phone - proved to be both reassuring and comforting - a daily reminder that I wasn’t alone in all this.

After taking time to think about what was making me anxious, I rationed my news intake and started listening to more music instead. This change of habit also seemed to quiet my mind. I found the NHS Every Mind Matters resources very helpful too.

Two schools of thought were grappling with each other inside my head: ‘be productive, don’t waste this opportunity!’ V ‘go with the flow, just be’. Something had to give.

Banish ‘should’. Thinking about what I should be doing, made me feel guilty about not getting stuff done. Hours and days seemed to slip by without anything to show for them. The more I worried, the worse it became.

I had neglected my 2020 planner diary and so I started to write down one or two tasks each day, only the most urgent, with plenty of room for daydreaming, window box gardening and play.

Some days remain better than others. On the whole, letting go of expectations has made room for ideas and longer stretches of concentration. I have learned that it is OK if I don’t feel like writing that masterpiece or learning new audition pieces.

Playtime. I am not a professional artist, but last year I came across an art shop that ran workshops and it rekindled my love for a long forgotten creative pastime. The big revelation was that I could just play, make something for the fun of it, for me.

There are reams of free YouTube art classes and I have picked up quite a few tips along the way. Sometimes I share the art I create, sometimes not. It’s proved to be a lovely distraction that quietens my mind. Not something to be judged. An added bonus of leaping into distractions, creative or otherwise, is that they can help you simply ‘be in the moment’.

Hidden talents. Far from wasting time, bringing an element of play into these long lockdown days is helping me to cope better with the unknowns and uncertainty. Doing something pleasurable, often frees up my mind from anxiety, letting other creative ideas bubble up unexpectedly. I’ve found that by changing my approach and being more flexible as to what is and isn’t productive is helping me find the least stressful way through these extraordinary times.

Exercise benefits. I had been meaning to do some Yoga and Pilates since I sustained a nasty leg injury in 2017… and this month I finally gave it a go. I found some great free/pay what you can classes on Facebook (‘Corona Home Workouts’) led by fellow freelances. Combined with regularly practising some basic vocal exercises from drama college, they have been pivotal in helping me tap into a greater sense of calm and a clearer mind.

Getting together while staying at home 

Extending our range of online resources, this month we’ve launched our 'Stay at home' programme of webinars, which, as a starter, include 'Finding a balance while Staying at Home' (21st), 'Controlling freelance finances in uncertain times' (23rd) and ‘Cash flow planning through the crisis and beyond‘ (28th).

This is a marathon, not a sprint and we’re with you because we are #FEUfamily.

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