Coronavirus Survival Kit: Evenings

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This is a trying time for all of us.

No one really knows the full impact that this virus is likely to cause (though we can look to China for some ideas). In the meantime, for those of us who are stuck at home, I have come up with this little guide on how to weather the storm.

As a mother of two, I’ve found the more mental health preparation I do the evening before, the better I manage the following day.

While school is out, we’re adhering to our usual routine, so once the kids are asleep I begin to unwind from the day just passed. My first step is to either take a shower, or if I’m feeling indulgent, I’ll have a bath, light some candles and relax, away from my mobile phone and the endless spiral of news stories, articles and opinion pieces about this disgusting virus.

I then do a 10 – 30 minute meditation, depending on how I feel. I typically use Headspace and they have just introduced an amazing collection of meditations designed to support us during this crisis, which, as far as I’ve understood, are completely free of charge.

I highly recommend doing some of these meditations; some of them are just one minute long and you’ll be surprised at how impactful just a short meditation can be! I can’t recommend meditation enough!

Following this, I then read for a bit before switching off my mobile phone and fullying absorbing myself in a TV show or movie for the next hour or so.

Before going to bed, I write in my journal and this is something I have strictly adhered to for about a year now! I make a habit of writing only the positive things that have happened that day, and this is honestly the best thing to do just before I close my eyes.

While all of this might seem fairly dull and straightforward to some, these are my essential tools for supporting and maintaining a positive mindset and avoiding any sort of mental health spiral – particularly in the midst of a crisis!

Weathering the Coronavirus Storm…

Image by DarkWorkX from Pixabay

I’ve certainly been going through the motions when it comes to the Coronavirus. First came nonchalance, then full-blown panic, then anger…

Now I’ve accepted it; it is what it is, it’s not completely out of our control and no matter what, the show must go on.

Yes I am worried; of course I am. Here in Cyprus, all schools and nurseries will be closed as of tomorrow. The Education Ministry has announced closure for one week, but who knows how long this could go on for?

We are not allowed to go to public events with 75 people or more, and after-school lessons have been cancelled. Private tuition centres are closed, some yoga studios too, while many businesses are making preparations for their employees to work from home… You name it, people are taking action.

And while many of you reading this might think that is extreme (especially since we don’t actually have that many cases of it here in Cyprus), I believe it is better to be safe than sorry. Cyprus is a small country with a tiny population, and things could very quickly spiral out of control if we don’t take stringent measures.

But that inevitably leaves me with a lot of questions, including… What on earth does this mean for my work?

An important meeting got cancelled yesterday due to Coronavirus fears, and while I am disappointed about the cancellation, I also fully respect the company’s decision to cancel.

I’m also worried about the potential implications of the virus on my workload, since I am a freelancer who earns my keep from projects as and when they arise.

If the meeting got cancelled, does that mean they won’t want me to write any further articles this month? What about next month? What if my other clients cancel? What if this thing takes months to go away? Will I be out of a job?

As you can see, it’s easy for me to allow my thoughts to spiral out of control (especially as a sufferer of anxiety), but I’m doing my utmost to avoid panicking.  

Health comes first, and if, unfortunately, my work does take a blow, then that’s out of my hands for now. If things get worse before they get better, then so be it. Of course I want this thing to go away; of course I wish it were all just a bad dream; of course I wish I could click my fingers so that everything could go back to how it was, or we could fast-forward to a Coronavirus-free future where this is all well and truly behind us.

But I can’t do that. And so for now, we must hold our heads high, continue as well as we possibly can, and stay positive.  

The show must go on!

Valentine’s Day Isn’t Only for Lovers

Valentine’s Day is here and I haven’t posted in months, so I thought I would take this opportunity to create a quick post about… you guessed it: Love!

This post hasn’t got an awful lot to do with content writing. In fact, it’s got nothing to do with content writing at all. But words are my thing and writing is one of the many ways in which I process my thoughts and manage my life.

I understand that life can get difficult, stressful and downright depressing – I am absolutely no stranger to that. But I am so blessed to know that there are a handful of people in my life that I can reach out to during difficult times. They know who they are and I am utterly indebted to each and every one of those people for everything they do for me, no matter how small it may seem.

Come to think of it, this post IS about content writing because if I wasn’t able to get through the bad times, my writing would suffer as a result. When I’m functioning at my peak, I can feel it in my writing; the inspiration flows from within me, and I feel compelled to write and write and write to my heart’s content.

But when I’m struggling with a difficult emotion or having a hard time, it can be so hard to focus on my writing. Everything seems fuzzy and confused; my thoughts don’t connect like usual and I really have to focus just to string a sentence together (to my clients, don’t worry, this doesn’t happen often ;)).

Which is why I am so grateful to the handful of people in my life, who are always there for me through thick and thin (they know who they are!) They never judge me or put me down, and always fill me with encouragement.

So this Valentine’s Day (and beyond!), spread some love not just to your lover, but to your loved ones too!

I Doubt I’ll Make Millions from Freelancing, and that’s Okay

Since making the transition from full time employee to freelancer, a lot of changes have gone on in the world.

When I first started freelancing, it was less common and less heard of to work from home. Particularly in Cyprus, it was hardly heard of to work part time let alone to work from home, and the vast majority of jobs advertised were only offered on a full time basis.

While freelancing probably is not without its disadvantages, for me, particularly at this stage in my life, the pros definitely outweigh the cons.

Since I started freelancing in 2013, it’s certainly been a bumpy ride. I was lucky enough to land a major client fairly early on, but when that fell through in 2017, I felt shaken up, and wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get back on my feet.

Since then, I’ve managed to build up a relatively steady stream of clients (and have had another child), so although the work sometimes feels like it’s not enough, I also feel like I’m able to strike a really good balance between working and parenting/managing all the other stuff that comes with being a working parent.

But with the rise of social media, I’m frequently bombarded with articles, emails, videos and social media posts on subjects like ‘How I Made my Millions from Freelancing’ and ‘Yes you CAN Charge $2,000 per post!’

While I don’t doubt that these posts aren’t true, I do think that this sort of success is difficult to come by. And while I believe in the law of attraction and the power of positivity, I also believe that if you do attain this level of success, it will come at a cost.

At this stage in my life, I’m happy to make a little bit of extra cash each month to support my family and put less financial pressure on my husband.

While I used to be obsessed with calculating my earnings each month from freelancing, some months I know have been much quieter than others, and if I’ve made close to nothing, I have learnt to accept that that’s okay.

Yes, we have monthly bills to pay and unanticipated payments always arise, but we always manage to work it out.

Because freelancing means that some months you’ll have made a decent amount, and others you’ll have made nothing! By being as organised as possible with our finances, we somehow seem to figure it out even during the most difficult months.

The flexibility afforded from freelancing has also meant that I’ve got more time to do other things, like meditate, work on my own website, focus on the kids and spend longer on my current workload, without feeling the pressure to get it done as quickly as possible in order to move on to the next task.

And as I said before, while each month definitely differs in terms of workload (and ultimately, income) for the time being, that’s okay.

As a working mum, there have been plenty of occasions where I’ve had to drop what I’m doing to go pick up one of the kids at a moment’s notice, and having the ability to do that means the world to me.

While I’d never say no to extra work, when it doesn’t come through as I’d initially hoped, I have learnt to accept that and move on.

For those of you out there who are making a fortune from freelancing, I salute you!

And while I may not be making millions from freelancing (far from it!), for now, I’m completely okay with that.

What are your thoughts on freelancing? Leave a comment in the box below!

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

Working as a freelancer is both liberating and frustrating. You get to work from the comfort of home – but also with only yourself for company.

While this doesn’t bother me, it definitely doesn’t work for everyone. Some people simply need to be surrounded by other people in order to work productively – and that’s absolutely understandable.

If you’re wondering what it’s really like to work from home and aren’t sure whether it’s right for you, read on for the pros and cons:

Pros:

Fewer Distractions

For me, one of the biggest benefits of working from home is that there are fewer distractions.

Yes, I am guilty of putting the washing machine or the dishwasher on, which can be incredibly annoying, but generally speaking, the house is so calm and quiet, and the only noises I can hear are passing traffic or, if I’m in the mood for it, the music I’m playing in the background.

While I do find I concentrate best in complete silence, sometimes when I’m working on something a little less demanding (like an upload or some admin), I do enjoy a chill out mix.

Set Your own Hours

Need to run to the post office or go to the bank? Working from home makes it so much easier to carve out time for errands or appointments which you don’t always want to schedule around your working hours.

The beauty of working from home is that you carve out your hours around your schedule.

As a working mother, there have been plenty of occasions where I’ve had to pick up my daughter from nursery at a moment’s notice, or stop what I’m doing to show the builder how to open the latch to the roof (the husband seems to love arranging for builders to come round while I’m home and he’s at work!)

But being at home reduces your frustrations around these unforeseen events, and I always feel so grateful that I can be home when I’m truly needed.

Increased Flexibility

Having the ability to set your own hours automatically equates to increased flexibility. If something non-work-related comes up in the morning, I simply pick up where I left off later in the day, or carve out time in the evening when the day just didn’t work out. I don’t have anyone looking over my shoulder pressuring me to work during specified hours – I simply make up for lost time when my day hasn’t worked out as planned.

Cons

You Feel Out of the Loop

I have a long-term client who I’ve been writing for since 2013 and have gotten to know him and his team pretty well. They have head offices in Switzerland and I really love their work culture, ethic and philosophy.

It’s an amazing company and they’ve worked on some incredible projects, but sometimes, you can feel a bit out of the loop and it would be amazing to sit in on a meeting (physically) instead of being heard through a speaker!

The same goes for other clients. Yes, I’ve spoken via email, Skype or phone with countless clients, but there are so many of them that I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting in person.

 Sometimes, you can’t beat that physical interaction and the chance to get to know them and all their quirks! I’m really interested in body language and tone of voice, but if I’m not meeting them in person, I definitely miss out on these factors.

Where do you Draw the Line?

As I mentioned above (in the pros no less), working from home offers immense flexibility, but you have to be able to draw the line and switch off mentally from your workload.

When your work desk is right there in your face 24/7, it can be difficult to draw the line between work and home life.

But if you’re disciplined and focused, this isn’t as difficult as it sounds. As long as you are strict with yourself and learn to switch off when it’s time to switch off, working from home is definitely a dream come true.

What are your Thoughts on Working from Home?

Does the idea of working from home put you off or fill you with joy?

We’re all different, and that’s what makes the world go round. I for one love working from home. It suits my personality down to a T and fits in with my routine and schedule. It affords me amazing flexibility, and as a mum of two, this is a huge plus.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below!

My review of Headspace (& How it helps my Writing)

Image by Snapwire from Pexels.

I’m naturally a very busy ‘thinker,’ which isn’t necessarily a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ thing, but I wouldn’t mind having the ability to switch my brain off every now and then – or at least the sound!

I’ve wanted to get into meditation for years now but I took the wrong approach and never seemed to find the right time. I began with the book, Wherever You Go, There You Are, by Jon Kabat-Zinn, which is an incredible book but too deep/heavy for a beginner. Then I switched to various meditations on YouTube, chopping and changing depending on my mood.

I can’t remember exactly how I came across Headspace but I haven’t looked back since. After giving their Beginner’s Level 1 course a go (which is free of charge), I then did session 1 of Managing Anxiety, which is a 30-day course (the first audio is also free of charge). After that, I was in two minds about whether to invest in Headspace. First of all, you can get meditations for free on YouTube, and the app is quite expensive, especially when you compare it to services like Netflix for instance.

As I continued to commit to one 10-minute session a day, a ‘40%-off’ offer came by. I took the plunge and bought a 1-year subscription, vowing to try to commit to one 10-minute session a day.

In the first weeks, during those daily 10 minute meditations, not a lot changed for me, especially outside of the sessions. I still had lots of thoughts coming and going, and my brain rarely stopped ticking. As the weeks developed, I began to notice a small difference as I was meditating, and I occasionally managed to hold on to that calm, focused feeling for a short while after.

But then, without even realising it, the daily meditations began to impact my daily life, from how mindful I was during something as mundane as housework, to my level of concentration within a conversation. I have naturally become more mindful as I am driving (always a bonus), during a conversation with someone, or when writing an article. I now feel much more focused and ‘in the zone’ as I move from one activity to the other, finding more pleasure and enjoyment in whatever it is I am doing.

Image by pixel2013 from Pixabay

Image by pixel2013 by Pixabay.

As a writer, I’m often forced to be analytical and sometimes sceptical about things, and I wasn’t without my doubts when it came to meditation. But this app is definitely up there on my list of top investments!

Don’t get me wrong, like everyone else, I have terrible days where I feel like everything is falling down on top of me. Days where I worry ceaselessly, feel anxious or down in the dumps. Some days, meditation is much harder than others, and sometimes it feels as if my mind has been elsewhere for most of the session and that I’ve actually wasted my time bothering with a session.

But the truth is, I can’t imagine my life without meditation – and the Headspace app – and everything it has taught me so far.

I’m also truly grateful for the impact it’s had on my work. I have fewer ‘fuzzy’ days and my ability to concentrate while writing has definitely been heightened.

I can’t wait to continue with my meditation journey and see how my practice develops and evolves.

Has anyone else tried meditation? What have your experiences been like?

March Musings

Taking a Moment to Reflect on the Past Month 

March was a difficult month for me on a number of levels (for reasons I won’t get into here), but I wholeheartedly believe in the power of positive thinking and the overwhelming effects it has on the mind, body and spirit.

As cliché as it sounds, being positive really is a game changer, not just because it calms the heart rate and brings back that twinkle in your eye, but also because it really has the power to adjust your frame of mind and help you to see the good in a seemingly bad situation.

Life is an odd thing but we’re all here, facing its challenges in our own unique ways. I know for one that I am always trying to be the best version of myself possible, whether in my professional or personal life.

Within my content writing, I’m always aspiring to push myself further and further and produce the best work imaginable. With each piece of content I produce, I scour it with a fine-tooth comb, checking it and re-checking it to see how it can be improved. Only when I’m truly happy with it will I click ‘Publish’ or ‘Send.’

As a mother, I’m always trying to educate myself and do the best thing for my children, which isn’t always easy (we all lose our tempers sometimes ;)) but it is a challenge I am wholeheartedly embracing through all the tears, tantrums, trials and tribulations (that’s enough alliteration for one day), and of course through all the joy, laughter and happiness that resonates through our home on a daily basis.

There are plenty of other versions of ‘me’ including wife, daughter, sister and friend, and I’m always committed to pushing myself beyond any metaphorical boundary and being the best version of myself I can possibly be, no matter which role I am filling at that moment.

With that in mind, I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous month ahead.

Here’s to positivity!