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So, did you manage to redecorate your entire house, learn to make a sourdough loaf and create a cross-stitch wonder over the last few months of lockdown?
Nope – us neither. In fact, we kind of feel like we haven’t achieved very much at all other than get through from day to day, take pleasure in the small things, appreciate everything a lot more than we ever did and ride out the highs and lows as best we can.
If truth be told, that one kitchen drawer is still in need of a bit of a tidy (you know the one that every oddment ends up in…), we haven’t actually learned any new skills (other than coping with a global pandemic – never thought we’d be upskilling on that one…) and in all honesty, some days we wonder how we ever coped with the pace of pre-Covid life; commuting, meetings, school runs, fitness, domestic tasks, seeing friends and family – it’s kind of daunting thinking about the amount we used to do in a day. Looking back, it all seems rather frazzling!
As we move another step closer to the familiarity of our pre-virus lives; seeing family and friends again, enjoying our favourite restaurant food (and cocktails!) and enjoying our favourite hang outs and feeling a little more free, there is a slight reticence that hangs in the air – can we cope with doing things the way we used to, the pace we used to?
The default feeling for many of us when we’re forced to slow down, for whatever reason is sometimes guilt; that feeling of ‘I’m not doing anything productive therefore I’m wasting my time’, ‘I’m not busy enough – I need to be doing something more.’ That feeling itself is wearing. When we’re relaxing, we’re never really relaxed as that irksome feeling gnaws away at us.
When we say we haven’t learned much in lockdown. We have. We have learned that it’s ok to slow down and it’s ok to feel a certain way and sometimes there is just no rhyme or reason to how we feel and what we feel and some days are great and optimistic. Other days send us looking for a duvet to hide under. On these days we do ‘bare minimum mode’. When our spirits and energy levels are low, we get ourselves through the day by doing the basics and leave the big stuff for one of our better days.
It goes back to everything we do at Caorunn – keeping it simple, getting the basics right, getting rid of the frills and fripperies, holding on to the most important stuff – the stuff that really counts and enjoying life's simple pleasures.
We all have different levels of ‘bare minimum’. We all have different things we need to do and things we absolutely don’t have to do so here are our tips for finding your ‘easy street’, even if it’s just for a day.
1. Don’t look beyond today
Overwhelm is one of the most common feelings we all have as we navigate our way through the lockdown with the heavy weight of the pandemic hanging over us and a major contributor to overwhelm is looking too far beyond the immediate. That’s when the ‘what ifs’ and the ‘how will I deal with that…’ start to creep in and suddenly, you feel it challenging to cope with the road ahead. Bare minimum is looking at the day ahead and removing anything that is non-essential. It’s about making do with what’s in the fridge/freezer if you feel you really can’t face the supermarket queue and stress of a trip out. It’s about doing the basics in the house to conserve energy and just get you through the day. Having the weight of housework, ironing, work and kids if you have them is not fun when you’re feeling like you want to do absolutely nothing for an entire day. Make a list of no more than five things that you absolutely must do today and plan them out throughout the day ie don’t blast your energy all in a oner.
2. Plan your points of escape throughout the day
Your escape might be a candlelit bath and chilled sounds (daytime baths are also a real ‘thing’ during lockdown and you absolutely must not feel guilty about that) or switching off with a book for half an hour. It might be a walk (it might even be a run if that’s how you revitalise and renew your energy). It might be a call to a friend or family member. These things will pick you up, even if you don’t feel it at the time, you’ll feel it the next day.
3. Slowly, everything slowly
Sometimes when we’re not feeling our best, our mind splits in different directions and it’s hard to concentrate so try to take things as slowly as possible and be mindful and in the moment, not clattering through things feeling stressed and overwrought. Time is on our side (for once)! We have a lot of it, so feel ok about slowing things down. There is tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day to catch up.
4. Push away thoughts of guilt
Know that by doing what you’re doing today, you are strengthening yourself for tomorrow and to be the beam of sunshine we all so want to be to our loved ones. Don’t feel guilty for carrying the clouds today. You have permission to pause. Think of all the days when you’re fully energised and firing on all cylinders. Life is about balance. Not every day is meant to be a ‘winning day’.
5. Be really kind to yourself
Sometimes in life we only treat and reward ourselves when we’ve achieved. We have this ingrained ‘achieve/reward’ system which can be hard to rid ourselves of. The bare minimum days are the days when you absolutely must treat and reward yourself and never feel bad about that. It’s the little pick me ups that make such a difference. Just feel proud that you got yourself through your day, conserved energy for the more demanding days and took a positive decision to take your foot off the pedal for a bit. We’re all for a simple Caorunn & Tonic at the end of the day and if there’s cake around to go with that, that’s even better.
In fact, here’s our favourite C&T recipe and if you’re feeling like getting lost in the kitchen with a wooden spoon and a bowl, you might want to keep your C&T in good company with one of these delicious gin and tonic cupcakes.
Here’s to you, cheers to you - wishing you a wonderful, happy, sunny and calm July.
The Caorunn Team.