Editor's Letter

Editor’s Letter: Choose to listen to yourself

There’s been a lot of back-and-forth since the lockdown began in the UK over how we should be handling isolation. It began as a productivity competition before eventually people got fed up with being shamed for ‘just’ surviving a world-wide pandemic and started speaking out about the importance of self-care. From fat shaming to lengthy to-do lists, Netflix marathons to banana bread, it’s been a rollercoaster of decisions for what’s right for you. 

Our healthcare system is stretched beyond its means, we don’t have the equipment we need and key workers across the board are being placed in truly vulnerable positions. Not doing anything is doing everything right now – as a now-famous saying goes: “you’re not stuck at home, you’re safe at home”. And if we all survive this a few pounds heavier, then thank goodness. 

But for some, keeping busy is a way of coping. It’s a distraction that brings a sense of normality. Making use of the time to learn new skills, enjoy exercise, deep clean every square inch of the house and read 30 books might be a daunting concept, but for some it’s therapy for a stressful environment we’re all experiencing. For others, this might be a place that they’re looking to get to but struggling to find the energy for. We’re living according to an unknown timeframe, which can be a huge barrier.

It’s times like this I refer back to one of my favourite quotes, from one of my favourite writers:

“There’s nothing you can’t do if you get the habits right.” – Charles Duhigg

I think it’s quite fitting for the uncertain place that we’re in right now. Whilst we’re being pulled in all directions, and feeling pressured to learn new skills and excel in everything, it’s easy to feel disheartened and focus on our shortcomings. It’s important to remember, firstly, that you’ll never be good at something on your first try. If you are, it’s chance. Secondly, it takes time and practice to be really good at something. And you’ll probably not want to do it a lot of time. There will be reasons why you don’t want to do it – especially when you’re finding it hard and you’re not very good at it. But that’s why I love this quote – there’s nothing you can’t do if you fit it into your routine.

If you get up and go for a run every morning, and you don’t question whether or not you feel like it that day, you’ll become that person who runs. Not that person who wishes they went running more often or likes to think they’re a runner but really just spent an insane amount of money on running shoes that are still in the box. If you want to learn a new language, finish work and dedicate 30 minutes every day to chipping away at that language. Every day you’ll become more and more fluent, learning a handful of new words, putting together new sentences. It’s difficult and frustrating but once it’s become part of your routine, you’re edging closer to your goal.

However you’re coping with this crisis, choose to listen to yourself. Block out those who are telling you to embrace this opportunity to improve on who you are. Block out those who are telling you to watch Netflix all day. Both of these options might work for you. Neither might work for you. But don’t let them become excuses for unhealthy habits.

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