Hi everyone – This week is a bite-sized episode. No guest today. You’ve just got some 1 on 1 time with me!
I did this in Season 1 when I shared some of my tips to overcome homesickness during the Christmas holiday season and I fancied coming back to share more of my deep thoughts and tips for you guys. This time on Lockdown Mental Health. I think it’s nice to also have quicker episodes to binge that are packed with value. Please let me know if you find these episodes helpful and I’ll keep doing them!
So let’s get stuck in! In today’s episode, I’m going to chat about the lull of these lockdowns. The funk that a lot of us are feeling right now. However, before I do, I want to state that millions of people have been living through horror and hell during this time. Losing loved ones, working on the frontline… and I acknowledge and understand how truly lucky I am that I have not been directly affected by this pandemic (other than the restrictions that have been put on all of us.) That being said, I am also very passionate about the importance of keeping on top of our lockdown mental health and acknowledging our own personal struggles (no matter what they may be) and being able to openly talk about them. Especially when we are living so far away from our home countries, comforts, and loved ones.
If you saw the New York Times article I shared a few weeks back, you’ll be familiar with the term “languishing.” The wonderful Adam Grant put a name to that feeling of “MEH” that a lot of us are stuck in day-to-day as a result of this pandemic. He described it as: “It’s not burnout — we still have energy. It’s not depression — we don’t feel hopeless. We just feel somewhat joyless and aimless.”
The best way I can describe it is: It’s like your life has a grey filter on .. right?! It’s been going on for so long now. Lockdown after lockdown… It feels like I can blink and the week has flown by, nothing new is happening in my life and I’m feeling pretty unfulfilled and unexcited – and I’m SURE I’m not alone.
I’ve had this weighing on my mind recently and I’ve been getting more and more messages from some of you voicing these same struggles so I thought it was time to address them in this episode to show that you’re not alone and share some of my best tips that have helped me. Even just the smallest mindset shifts can really make a huge difference – and I do believe that we are starting to see SOME light at the end of the tunnel now.
I’m going to break this shorter episode down into 2 parts: The “IT’S OK IF…” part and then the “WHAT CAN YOU DO” part. I really hope that you can get a little or a large ‘AHA’ moment and it can make a positive difference to how you’re feeling about everything right now.
It’s OK if… You’re overwhelmed.
The overwhelm is REAL, guys. Whether you’re juggling working from home, at-home workouts, home-schooling, or just feeling all of this insane pressure to be achieving all these great things and being super productive during these lockdowns… It’s a bit much.
Pre-pandemic, I’d finally found a sense of routine and normality in my day-to-day life in Canada. Now, all of a sudden I find myself full of guilt for the things I’m not doing that I keep seeing on social media: New workout challenges, baking, learning a new language, starting a new business…
Remember: There isn’t a list of things you ‘should’ be doing or achieving. Some people like setting a strict routine for themselves. Others like to mix things up and listen to what will make them happiest in the moment.
It’s OK. I’m right here with you. Every one is on the same page. Take the pressure off.
It’s OK if… You’re having an identity crisis
You’ve spent so long planning your move to Canada and building a new life here. Perhaps you’d finally started to figure out who you ‘are’ in Canada and feel content. Now you find yourself sitting at home feeling confused about what you want from life, your career, your relationships. Have you made the right decisions? Should you have even moved here? You think you’ve made a huge mistake… And not only that: The million-dollar question: Are you craving for things to go back to how they ‘were’ OR are you thinking of using this as the perfect time to pivot and ‘reset’?
There is no right or wrong answer! You can use this time to reflect on all of this and learn more about yourself. But there is NO rush. There is no deadline.
It’s completely understandable that this pandemic will set in motion new ideas and needs within us. There is nothing wrong with exploring those ideas and using this time to reflect on who you are, what you want, and even new changes that you want for your life. Panic doesn’t need to come along with this! Embrace this time to figure it all out – and if nothing changes, that’s OK too!
It’s OK if… Your homesickness has flared up (again)
Do you feel like you’ve taken a HUGE step backward? Perhaps you thought that you’d finally gotten over homesickness and settled into your new life here. Now, it just keeps hitting you again and again like a double-decker bus.
You’re worried about people back home. International travel is impossible so you’d be powerless if something were to happen to a loved one. You miss your home country and wish you could be there to support those in need. Time zones and access to news reports can delay your information and leave you feeling even more disconnected from your roots. All of this will naturally lead to a serious bout of homesickness and fear/regret of being so far away.
The biggest struggle for me is that I always like to know when my next trip to England will be. I have my flights booked for 4 or 6 months’ time and I have something to look forward to. Not knowing this has been really tough and it can feel pretty lonely. Recognize that if there ever were a time for homesickness to flare up, it will be during a global pandemic(!!) You’re not weak. Your new life hasn’t failed. It’s normal to crave the familiarity and comfort of home during this time of uncertainty. You’re only human.
So what can you do?
- Well…. Breathe. Stop. and Surrender.
We have to accept that this state of ‘uneasiness’ is a part of everyday life right now and that it is completely normal to feel this way. Accept the powerlessness. There’s nothing you can do about it. If you take one thing away from this episode it should be this: ALL feelings that you’re experiencing are OK. This is unprecedented. People are reacting in a million different ways. You have to remember to give yourself a break.
Personally, one of the best reminders that has come from this pandemic for me is the realization that I have my friends at the end of my fingertips – and they’ve been there all along. Take advantage of all of this amazing technology that we are so lucky to have. I think I’ve caught up with more friends in the past 3 weeks than I have done in the past 3 years! This is the perfect time for those of us who are living abroad to reach out to old connections. EVERYONE is experiencing FOMO (fear of missing out) and wanting to connect digitally. A great activity you can do right now is to make a list of every single person you want to reach out to and just start scheduling those video calls!!
As a result of the lockdowns, many businesses and organizations have moved their resources online. Take advantage of this digital shift and find webinars, live Q&As, and blog posts in the areas that are most worrying you. Are you panicking about your immigration status? Anxious about the future Canadian job market? Knowledge plays a huge role in calming your concerns. This is the perfect time to absorb all of this available (often free!) content so that you are that much more prepared for when things open back up again.
We have no control over this situation so surrender to it and let go. Think about the things that bring you calm? Books? Diffusers? Art? Cozy cushions? Learning? Photos of loved ones? Music? Create a ‘nook’ in your home dedicated to self-care and ensure you’re scheduling that time for yourself. All too often, our attention after moving abroad is focused entirely on the outside (e.g. making new friends, exploring our new neighbourhood…) Now, you can appreciate being able to switch off the screens and pressures of social media for a while and detox with your favourite activity.
Use this downtime to shift your mindset to positivity and plan for an amazing future! You’ve made a huge decision to move to Canada and you should be proud of yourself for making such a courageous move. Now is a great time to analyze where you’re at and make some new dreams! Whenever you’re feeling motivated, research the places in Canada you’d love to visit. Look into local restaurants you want to try when they re-open. Make a list of new hobbies or skills you want to learn. Remind yourself why you chose this beautiful country as your new home and prepare to jump back into your amazing life as soon as you are able.
So there you have it! I hope that this has given you a few ideas for how to get through this challenging time.
I’ll leave you with a couple of thoughts:
It’s all about your mindset. Regularly ‘check-in’ and acknowledge how you’re feeling. Accept the things that you cannot control. You are so strong to have moved your life to a new country, let alone live there through a pandemic! Give yourself credit where it’s due. We’ll get through this together!
Reach out to me on Instagram @thenewcomercollective at any time if you want to talk – I am here for you – and as always, please share this episode with any other internationals that need this important reminder.
That’s it from me!!! Have a wonderful day and I will see you next week.