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How I am Finally Learning to ‘Live in the Moment’

Coffee and books, two of my lockdown saviours

Perhaps it’s too early to be talking about the possible legacies of the coronavirus, but we humans are philosophical creatures and it helps (well it helps me at least!) to think about when this is all over and Covid-19 is a chapter in our history, something we lived through and learned from.

But let’s not pretend that for many of us this is nothing short of a nightmare, there is real hardship, indeed the travel business my husband and I own and spent 25 years building is one of the worst affected sectors, loved ones may be ill or at risk, and isolation may be exacerbating already difficult homelives. But today I have had several heart-warming chats (over various technologies) about the good things that might yet come out of this global health and economic disaster. If that doesn’t speak volumes about our innate capacity to look on the bright side, I don’t know what does!

Even my half-glass-empty friends are finding comfort in the fact that there’s sod all else we can do about this apart from stay at home, do our level best to stay sane and hope it gets better. I must admit to a strange sense of respite from normal life, where so much is expected from us on every level; professionally, socially, physically, as parents … Of course for essential workers they do not have the luxury of staying safe at home but for most of us, in a weird way, the pressure is off!

Yes, of course there are some major challenges, ‘WFH’ or Working From Home can be tricky in a confined space and then there’s the horror of homeschooling, but even there our expectations are considerably lower than they might have been, no one is keeping score!

So, what are my observations after this first week of relative isolation (Singapore is not on full lockdown but we are socially distancing):

  • My mood can change from hour to hour: panic, fear, a sense of the surreal, anger, frustration, gratitude, wanting to hide away, wanting to connect with people …

  • I feel guilty that I’m not doing enough with the kids, so I veer between barking orders at them to get off their screens and then thinking sod it, if they want to watch 10 hours of YouTube it won't kill them!

  • I feel guilty about not using all this time I have at home to be productive – I mean why don’t I just get on with writing that novel?

  • I love cooking but coming up with 3 interesting, varied and healthy meals a day is really draining

  • I’m not very good with no structure to my day, spontaneity doesn’t come naturally to me

It’s such a conflicting jumble of emotions and feelings and the only answer I’ve come up with is that I have to finally learn how to ‘live in the moment’. But what does that mean? We’ve all scrolled past those motivational quotes on Instagram, in my case with a slight eye roll:

"Forever is composed of nows."

"Life is a journey, not a destination."

"Be present in all things and thankful for all things."

And we tried our best, really we did. We downloaded meditation apps, we did endless yoga classes, we embraced ‘selfcare’ (never have our eyebrows looked so good!). But that wasn’t really living in the moment at all, we were simply adding more things to our already overloaded schedules.

But now there are no schedules, our daily activity has been reduced to ‘go to shop for milk’! Now we have time, acres of it, empty diaries, groundhog day after groundhog day, and if that doesn’t necessitate living in the moment I don’t know what does.

So how to start? Take a deep breath, think about how you feel right now, at this exact point in time:

  • If you are feeling scared or isolated message a friend or a loved one. Maybe schedule a video chat with a glass of wine. Connect.

  • If you are feeling guilty about the kids then maybe introduce a time in the day designated for games (Psych! is brilliant if you have older kids linked here) or watching something together (we have started watching Friends from the beginning, ruder than I remembered so probably 13+!)

  • If the food situation is getting on top of you dig out a few cookbooks for inspiration (I’ve been loving Diana Henry’s new book From Oven to Table)

  • If you are feeling lethargic roll out a mat and do an online workout (I’ve signed up for Pilates&Co online membership and the Hasfit app is great for HIIT workouts), or even just do a few stretches, here’s a great free 8 minute routine)

  • If you need some escapism get stuck into a good book (I’ve just finished American Dirt, you’ll love it). If you don’t have a kindle you can download the kindle reader app on any device

  • If you are feeling restless and agitated try and do something creative (I usually start writing a blog post but anything that uses your hands is really therapeutic)

What I am learning is that living in the moment is about tuning in to how you are feeling, the good, the bad and the ugly, and taking some appropriate action even if that’s just having a bit of a wallow! It’s OK to not feel OK for a bit but then get up, shake it off and move on.

There’s no time like the present to live in the moment (see what I did there) and if we can all get a bit better at it perhaps that will be the true legacy of this awful virus, the novel will have to wait!

Sam xx

P.S. I’d really love to know what things you are finding helpful being stuck at home – what are you doing with your kids? Cooked anything awesome or read or watched anything good?

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