When I first heard about the Covid-19 outbreak in China, my heart went out to everyone suffering out in Asia. But if this outbreak has taught us anything is that we are all connected, the virus doesn’t distinguish between races or ethnic groups.
I’m not going to lie, it’s been hard to watch all future plans fall through the cracks, and more and more clients back out of upcoming projects. Leaving my income cut by nearly 80% I instantly felt an overwhelming feeling of anxiousness and fear. This petrified me! So many across the world are feeling these emotions and more. Being freelance there is always that sense of uncertainty from one month to the next everything can change, with work on a constant up and down flow. There will be busy months. And months were no work will come in at all.
But this is a situation I most definitely never saw coming. And as much as this situation is completely out of my control you can’t help but feel sad, overwhelmed and anxious. But these feelings can’t be compared to the sense of sadness I feel for those losing their loved ones, and not being able to give them a proper burial or goodbye. Our elderly grandparents alone in their homes. Or those whose lives have been flipped upside down. Thousands of full time positions lost. Struggling to pay the most basic of human needs.
Therefore I currently feel like I’m on a constant edge. Because I just don’t know what to say. With fears of coming across insensitive. But what I’ve come to realise is that all situations are different. There will always be someone worse off but that doesn’t make our feelings less real.
The first step to overcoming that sense of anxiety is simply acknowledging that life is going to be different for a while. We can’t simply click our fingers and everything will go back to normal. Dr Mary Gresham an Atlanta based physiologist pointed out on the news that even those who are financially stable will worry about money in times of uncertainty.
I’ve alternated between feeling sad and shame over said sadness throughout this entire experience. I’m giving myself permission to feel whatever emotion flows through. Instead of focusing on things out of my control such as “When will this nightmare end?” or “Will people be hiring photographers after the pandemic?” Focus on what you can control. Be thankful and grateful for your loved ones. It’s times like these when we realise not to take things for granted. Now is the opportunity for long family phone calls, hand written letters, the feeling of a warm shower, the smell of a freshly baked loaf. Try not to focus on what you can’t do and focus on everything you will do. Think of that first hug you will give, that coffee you will be enjoying on your favourite cafe’s terrace, all those special picnics and barbecues with your friends and family.
Today I’m thankful for doctors, nurses, special services who are fighting on the front line to keep us safe. Grateful for the flight attendants and airport staff bringing our loved ones home. Teachers who are working non stop to provide content, to not only provide valuable learning skills but a helpful distraction in difficult times. Supermarket staff keeping food on our shelves. And so many more. The true superheroes of this pandemic.
If you’ve read this far, thank you. Below I’m sharing a few bits and bobs I’ve been doing while I’m embracing this quiet month in business:
Shooting lot’s of personal work
Over the last couple of months I’ve been constantly annoyed at myself for not having enough time to shoot my own recipes, and experiment in the kitchen. I’ve taken this time to play around with the light that shines through my window, props, different techniques, styles, editing softwares.
I’m using this time to get as inspired as I possibly can. Spending time watching documentaries, films, art shows, signing up to free online courses, reading, researching, scrolling through my favourite creatives on pinterest and Instagram.
Who else piles all their receipts and paperwork in a draw? Guilty! In all honesty haven’t quite got round to this task yet. But I’m determined to at least look through these, and sort. Ready to make my life that little bit easier down the line.
Support your community
Now more than ever it’s the time to support and encourage as many people as we can. Visit those blogs that you love and leave a real genuine comment. If you can don’t refund that concert ticket, or cinema ticket. Ask for a voucher to reschedule for next time. Support your local florist or restaurant with a gift card.
Take it slow
This may be your most important task of all. Don’t just go through the motions feeling like you need to be productive every second of the day. Don’t feel like you have to do multiple workouts in a day. Just because you’re favourite online trainer is telling you to do so. Take a deep breath, and repeat the 700 year-old wise words of Lao Tzu: “Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing.”
When was the last time you truly slowed down and took care of your mental health? No one could anticipate something like this taking place. I know life will be different moving forward. It’s about finding the ability to embrace this quiet time. And coming out stronger the other side.