Lockdown = loss of: control, socialising, structure, positivity, freedom, things to look forward to
Lockdown = extra: anxiety, confusion, restriction, unknown, uncertainty
I was very aware that I was lucky to have extra time on my hands this year, due to the pandemic. I was also aware, however, that without structure I can start to spiral downhill very quickly.
At first I kept busy with physical activity, increasing my steps, hikes, and yoga practices. I also threw myself into some of my main hobbies such as board games, reading and creativity. The kind nature of certain businesses such as the National Theatre enabled me to structure evenings with family watching their productions, and taking part in quizzes with YouTube channels like Big Potato Games and Jay's Virtual Pub Quiz. I started taking any relevant opportunities which came along, trying to make the most of the time I was grateful to have. This helped me to move out of my comfort zone in unusual ways which would in normal circumstances have passed me by, from turning my camera on for online yoga sessions, to enrolling on online making sessions, and joining a book discussion group.
Now in the habit of taking opportunities as they arose, I expressed interest straight away and met Sarah Cole, a wellbeing coach. We spoke by phone to discuss coaching and what I wanted to achieve, and when this all seemed to match up, we arranged the first session. I had some homework to do, which was really helpful - mapping out different areas of my life, to work out what I wanted to change, which of these were the highest priority, and where I wanted to start.
I've had coaching before, but always with the focus on my business goals, never for me personally. Sarah's coaching was all about wellbeing, and what I wanted for myself in terms of health.
Talking to Sarah helped me realise the degree of impact this can have on me, and taught me to slow down and prioritise. I knew the principles of this already, but there is no substitute for speaking to a professional at a time, and in a space protected for the conversation, where the focus is legitimately all about you. Each session I brought a goal or problem related to the larger goal we were working on, and reported back my progress from the previous session. I always work better when I have someone to be accountable to. I've always known and disliked this about myself, but I decided to try to make use of this element of the coaching, and as we started weekly and moved to fortnightly, this started to become a habit, and has definitely led to me being more productive and procrastinating less since.
Like most, I faced some barriers to coaching along the way. The first of these, despite lockdown, was fitting it into my new schedule of yoga, reading, meditation and cooking, but this was easily overcome as I was committed to it and it soon became a part of my routine. Due to my living arrangements at the time, it was also difficult to manage privacy for my sessions. I felt rather boxed in and found it difficult to problem solve and contemplate ideas when I was staring at the same four walls. On one occasion, I spoke about how I benefit from walking to allow me to think, and Sarah suggested I go for one, so I took our Zoom outside with me and this was much more productive and quite a light bulb moment.
I am human, and still catch myself now, launching off on new ideas at light speed, but the series of coaching sessions continually coming back to this theme has heightened my awareness of it, and created a commitment to change it long term. My sessions finished several months ago now, but I'm still working on those same goals, and have had several big achievements since. In fact, I've just revisited the first exercise looking at the different aspects of my life ( 6 months later) and found that almost all of them had improved considerably, my scores doubling in places. A few had stayed the same or gone down, but these were mostly attributable to lockdown and its restrictions.
The take-away: Coaching helped me to focus, prioritise, and create new habits. It taught me to invest in important areas of my life, and trust myself to keep this up going forward. I'm extremely grateful to Sarah for her time and expertise, and rising to the challenge of coaching - through lockdown, from afar, via video. At a time of isolation, confusion and uncertainty, sessions with Sarah gave me hope, structure, human contact and a sense of empowerment.
This set of coaching sessions is the latest stepping stone in my wellness journey, which started 11 years ago with counselling, has included many other forms of therapy; talking therapies, body-based practices, and spiritual enquiry. I've known for years that this is an ongoing process, but every time I undertake a new path on my journey, I am surprised how much I still have to learn.
About Sarah Cole
Author - Zoe Copeland, MFHT
With a background in education, sports coaching and mental health, Zoe began to explore more holistic avenues of helping people with a particular focus on where the mind and body meet. Zoe began her bodywork training in Sports Massage and has since studied other massage theories and techniques, as well as Reiki, to provide a holistic approach to each treatment. With specific training in women's health, trauma and scars, she has developed an intuitive practice which leaves you feeling a positive change in your body and mind after every appointment.