• Marie Bateson

Your Circle of Control

Preparing for a lockdown practically is straightforward enough - apparently you just need to buy 700 rolls of toilet paper and you're all set. (If you'd appreciate more ideas as to how to practically prepare for a lockdown, head here.) But preparing for a lockdown mentally is an entirely different game.

I suppose a good place to start is The Serenity Prayer. By the end of a lockdown, we'll probably all be alcoholics anyway, so using the 'mantra' of the 12 step addiction recovery program seems appropriate. You've probably heard it already, but just in case you haven't, here it is:

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

The serenity prayer asks you to look at your circle of control which is really useful when you're faced with a lockdown. A lot of us are little Type-A control freaks. We try to control everything we possibly can, agonising over tiny decisions and believing our choices to be of utmost importance to how things unfold. A lockdown strips us of our control and, for many of us, this is rather terrifying.

However, it can also be an enormous relief. When your life is entirely restricted to what goes on within the walls of your home, you have far fewer choices to agonise over. When viewed this way, lockdown can be the first holiday many control freaks have had in a very long time. Also, FOMO? It's a thing of the past! Nobody's doing anything; you're not missing out. We're all at home in our sweatpants eating Doritos. My husband now attends business meetings online wearing a button-down shirt up top and sweatpants on the bottom. It's the coronavirus version of business casual.

When we learned of the impending lockdown here in Valencia, we spent a few hours debating whether or not we should flee the country. This may sound dramatic, but so is spending weeks cooped up indoors with two very active children. However, once we'd decided that it was irresponsible to travel at this time, it actually felt like a load was lifted. We'd taken the first step of accepting what we cannot change.

Another thing we cannot change is the coronavirus and what it's doing to the world at the moment. Does it do anyone any good to be checking the number of deaths each day in countries around the world? The only thing that's good for is reinforcing the fact that this lockdown is entirely necessary and we'd be horrendous global citizens if we didn't take it seriously.

So what can we do to control the coronavirus at the moment? For most of us, all we can do is stay home and encourage others to do the same. Some of us will be able to help in other ways. Are you a retired doctor? Could you come out of retirement to help treat the mounting number of those afflicted? Do you run a company that produces PPE along with other items? Can you halt production of anything else and focus entirely on making as much PPE as possible? What can each of us do to help fight the coronavirus?

A lot of people are also frantically worrying about the economic fallout of these lockdowns. Again, what can we each do to ease that? Do you normally pay a cleaner to come to your house? Continue paying them - even if it's at a reduced rate - during these weeks. Do you usually take fitness classes? Attend those classes online and continue paying the instructors. Do you have a second home that you rent out? Give your tenants a reduction in rent for the next few months. Do you have a favourite restaurant? Order delivery food from them. Do you frequent a nail salon or small shop? Buy a gift certificate to use in the future. If we all look out for each other during this time, it will cushion the blow for everyone.

Spend a little bit of time considering the world outside the walls of your home, but rather than worrying about all the things you cannot control out there, consider what you can do to help. Spread those hilarious memes, check in on the people you love, financially support those who need it, especially freelancers and small-business owners who have nothing to fall back on.

Figure out what positive things you can do outside the walls of your home and focus on doing those. You don't need to be clicking on every horrifying sensationalist headline that comes your way. You don't need to be checking the death toll in every country around the world. Don't worry about things like when a vaccine will be readily available or how the US is going to weather this with a completely incompetent fool at the helm. Don't focus on what you cannot control outside the walls of your home - you're going to have plenty to focus on within.

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