HOPE AT HOME
So, this time last year the UK (and many other parts of the world!) went into something that now seems to be a part of our everyday vocabulary: lockdown. Who would have guessed that for the better part of an entire year, people all around the world regardless of age, background, culture, class, race and ability, would be asked to remain at home. I sure didn’t.
I live in London - a city where staying at home is rarely part of the equation. London is about being places, doing things, and running from one place to the next. From the way we work to the way we socialise, London has always been lived in away from home. Until 2020.
Regardless of whether you, like me, live in a busy and bustling city, or somewhere more remote and peaceful, I think we can all agree that we didn’t anticipate spending as much time at home as we have over the last year. And for many individuals, being confined to the walls of their homes has presented many challenges and difficulties we never expected to face. From disconnection through isolation to distraction through monotony and especially loneliness through separation, the last year has been a test of character, patience, and hopefulness for us all.
But all is not lost. While we may still have to spend time at home before the world begins to open up once more, there are a few small practices we can implementing in our lives now that will not only help to equip us to get through what we hope will be the final stretch of a very long race, but that will also create small but significant moments of hope that will brighten our days, lift our chins, and help us to keep on keeping on.
So, here are a few simple ways to stay hopeful - even at home.
I don’t know about you but for me the surefire way to bring a smile to my face is a steaming cup of coffee. If I’m in a bad mood, an extra hot oat milk flat white will turn my frown upside down almost instantly. But before I get caught up in how much I love coffee (it's a lot), the point I’m trying to make is that hope and joy don’t only have to be the result of grand gestures. Sometimes something as simple as a coffee or a book or a walk in the park or a biscuit or even a little bit of sunshine can make a huge difference.
However, if we are too focused on the negative things or the things that are lacking like being able to see the people we love, we can miss the simple pleasures that these little things bring. My challenge to you this week is to look for the minor details that bring major joy. Acknowledge them and savour them! In doing so, you might just find that even on a bad day, the little things in life really count.
When I was in school I had a teacher who at the start of each and every lesson would make us say three things we were grateful for. As a moody teenager that wasn’t always easy but it did cause me to really think about how much there was in my life to be thankful for.
In a time such as now where our minds and our lives can be so plagued with all kinds of negativity and difficulty, it’s so important that we take time to think about the things in our life that are good. While it may sound cheesy, there are so many things in our own lives to be thankful for that so many others may not have the privilege or ability to experience. Whether it’s gratitude for a hot shower and a warm bed or a roof over your head and a meal in your stomach, I can guarantee you that if we take the time to think about it, we’ll certainly be able to find things we can be grateful for.
Gratitude is such a powerful tool that can not only transform our perspectives and create a more positive attitude towards our futures, but it can remind us of the hope that exists in our lives now and keep us expectant for the hope that’s to come. Why not spend a few minutes each day writing down the things you are grateful for. By putting them down on paper you can look back at them on a bad day and be encouraged that even when life looks a little bumpy, there is always so much to be grateful for. Sometimes we just have to think.
Now I know this might seem a bit counterintuitive seeing as we’re told to remain apart; however, connection doesn’t have to be physical. As I’m sure you’re already very (if not too) familiar with things such as Zoom, there are so many alternative ways for us to connect with the people in our lives.
Whether it’s a short text to say that you’re just checking in, a FaceTime, a phone call or a virtual hangout, there are loads of different things we can do to ensure that even while we are physically isolated, we are not emotionally isolated.
As humans we are created for connection and when that connection disappears, we will inevitably feel the impact of it. So, wherever you are and however you’re finding lockdown, remember that connection is a phone call, a text or a FaceTime away, and remember that even though things may be tough, you are not alone in this.
Last but certainly not least, when you feel like you’ve reached the end of your rope and you’re not quite sure how much longer you can handle being locked down at home, remember that every cloud - no matter how grey - has a silver lining.
I love the phrase ‘this too shall pass’ because it reminds me that even in the most difficult times of my life, there will come a time when those difficulties melt away and when I will come out on the other side. I know that sometimes in the moment it can be really tough to believe that there are better days ahead; however, by holding on to the hope that tomorrow brings, we can get through the difficulties of today.
While we may be in lockdown now, there will be a time when we’re able to see each other once more and celebrate our ability to come together in person. And how sweet that day will be! But as we make the most of the here and now we find ourselves in, hold on to the hope that promises better days ahead and seek the hope that brings joy to the present moment.
There is so much to look forward to! So friend, wherever you are, don’t give up just yet.
The best is yet to come.- Alexia