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#17 Politics

For as long as I can remember I have been politically minded. That is to say I take an interest in national and global events and how the world’s decision makers react, enable and seize the opportunities these circumstances present.

For those who know me it will come as no surprise when I say I am a news junkie. Growing up I listened to as much BBC radio 4 as I did radio 1. As a family my parents encouraged myself and my siblings to join them in watching world events unfold on the 6pm news.

My parents brought me up in a way that means I am never frightened to ask questions and form my opinions based on the answers and data I get from them. I feel incredibly lucky that is the case. This is undoubtedly why I became a journalist and whilst I can no longer call that my profession, it is a walk of life and way of thinking that never truly leaves you.

Given that background it was always likely I would end up being politically minded but one event more than any other really set the wheels in motion to who I am today as a person and why personal politics are what they are.

Those within my circle of friends and family, and even those I work with in close quarters will attest to the fact that I can be very strong willed and passionate about the things I care about. ‘Tom’s on his soapbox again’ with a laugh, sigh or an eyeroll is something I’ve heard and felt time and again.

I am writing this post to try and explain why, not only to others but also to myself, I am the person I am.

I live in a small rural community, I am lucky to have spent a lot of my life here. This area is truly beautiful and there is a real community spirit. That being said there is a resistance to change and a fear of the unknown here I have never really felt anywhere else in the country.

Growing up in such a community the son of an Iraqi sometimes presented challenges. I learned fairly quickly to develop a thick skin and to shrug off some of the more unpleasant comments and ‘banter’. There were times when I failed and rose to things I should have looked past but as a young man tempers would often flair.

After 9/11 there was a slow and sustained dehumanisation of middle eastern people and more specifically Muslims by the British press, and to a lesser extent media. For those who don’t know, when I refer to the press I mean newspapers and magazines and media largely equates to TV, Radio and some forms of online news. In more recent times the line between the two mediums has become somewhat blurred but that’s another post for another day.

As a result of this I would often feel like the elephant in the room in social and academic spaces. There would often be a visible recoil from people when I explained my family background. This is not a sob story, I did not directly experience the pain and misery of Saddam Hussein’s cruel dictatorship nor the bombs that rained down and killed countless innocents in the Iraq War. Nor did I have to live through the power vacuum created by the west in the middle east. A vacuum that was largely occupied by terror organisations like Al Qaeda or ISIS and one that has devastated so many innocent lives.

Shortly after 9/11 I was in a class at secondary school and we were invited to say how we had felt about the situation in a sort of open forum discussion. I had naively believed I would be able to share my thoughts without being scolded. I suggested that I felt the disaster could have been avoided had there been less western interference in the middle east and that the Bush family could have been more careful about the company they had kept. I pointed out the Bush Snr had a working relationship with the Bin Laden’s. I wish I hadn’t. I was told my views were upsetting others and that I was over opinionated. I wasn’t told this by my peers but by my teacher.

In 2003 Britain on the command of the United States went to war with Iraq. There had been clear evidence that the reasons for the invasion had been ‘sexed up’ and the war was illegal and still this went ahead. Approximately 1 million people had marched to protest the war, my mother being one of them. Their protestations fell of deaf ears. Britain and America went to war on the back of false intelligence and huge numbers of innocent people died as a result.

Many of the armed forces and many more innocent Iraqis lost their lives on the back of this false intelligence. Meanwhile George W Bush, Tony Blair and others in both governments personally profited from the disaster. The landscape of the middle east was forever changed and the so called ‘war on terror’ had created a space ready made with all the fuel necessary to create decades of sustained terror. Instead of ‘bringing democracy’ to the people of Iraq, the west enacted it’s full blown brand of disaster capitalism with massive contracts being handed out to western companies in the name of ‘rebuilding the country’.

This time in my life and the injustices presented by it solidified my politicism. If I was a mildly political person before, I had become radicalized from this point on. The sense of what was right and wrong and the fact those in power could just get away with something as monumental as an illegal war created a huge fire inside me.

There are times when this fire burns out of control, I will rant on social media, draw attention to news stories I feel need to be heard and sometimes become engaged in political debates with people whom I fundamentally disagree with.

When I am sold the virtues of new labour and Tony Blair’s government’s achievements as a blanket validation of the Iraq war I cannot accept this. Whilst the Good Friday Agreement, low unemployment and a functioning welfare state represent policy and achievements I admire in government, they do not and will never excuse war crimes.

I thought long and hard about whether I should post this piece as I am aware for some the subject is taboo. Whilst dwelling on this I was taken back to a memory of my first year at university. Very early on in my time studying journalism I was invited to make a presentation on an allocated subject in the form of a group project. The subject assigned to us was ‘the relationship the bbc has with government advisors’ more specifically whether Dr David Kelly, a chemical weapons expert, had died due to his relationship with a BBC reporter.

I’ll let those who don’t know who Dr Kelly is do their own research but this subject matter was obviously very close to my heart, both as someone with Iraqi blood and as a journalist. As we made our presentation and it was my turn to speak I could see the eyes in the room wondering why I spoke so passionately about this. My lecturers asked questions that got lengthy, sometimes emotional responses.

The reason I have written this post is to answer the question of why? For every time I’ve been looked at in that way, for every comment I’ve had to choose whether to challenge or ignore and for my own peace of mind.

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#16 Saudade (FOMO)

As England navigates it’s way through lockdown 2.0 this time it’s personal, thoughts once again turn to what we may be missing out on. It’s fair to say that for many this had been coming. There’s a general feeling that we are better prepared for this month of containment than we were in March, and the rising case numbers hanging over people had led to a sense of angst that the second lockdown may help to relieve.

It is hard to make plans for the future, both personally and professionally, when the world is in such a volatile state. Many will have had trips cancelled, work plans put on hold and more over a general feeling of life being put on pause. Excitement is tempered by what ifs and caution, and this mindset can spill over into daily routine.

From July we had been given a small taste of normality that was slowly chipped away at until the inevitable second lockdown came to pass. By August we were encouraged to ‘eat out to help out’ and we could return to our favourite watering holes in groups of six or less. There was even talk of trialling crowds at ticketed events. Then came the news that cases were on the rise and that dull anxious feeling returned, a second wave was coming.

With a nagging feeling constantly hovering over us it can be hard to remain motivated and stay on track. Positive feelings can become diluted while the negative ones take a more prominent role. The unknown and not being able to plan for it can be a tough terrain to navigate. To use a sporting analogy, making plans at the moment can feel like scoring a goal in football and waiting to see if VAR are going to overrule it.

I have experienced the ups and downs of making plans only to have them cancelled. I enjoyed seeing my friends at social occasions again and having had a taste of this, it’s all the more difficult to return to a life of relative solitude and isolation. Weddings have been postponed and family events cancelled. It has been a challenging time but I appreciate I am in a better and more privileged position that countless others who have much bigger struggles to contend with.

In the last year landmark dates and occasions have either been cancelled, postponed or have come and gone without the fanfare and celebration usually associated with them. This has been felt keenly in the world of sport with football’s European Championships being put back until 2021 just one key example of this.

Tomorrow sees the opening round of The Masters golf major championship at Augusta, a sporting occasion that usually draws thousands of spectators but will this year see none. Fans will of course still be able to watch events unfold on television but for those taking part the golf will be different.

Matthew Wolff, who will be playing in his first Masters this week, said in a press conference given at the course media centre yesterday, that walking up the 18th fairway with a one shot lead without a crowd has far less pressure than doing so being roared on by an expectant fan base.

Whilst those who have been winners in elite sport will still have a sense of pride in what they have achieved, there has been a lot of talk of victories feeling somewhat hollow without crowds of fans to share that elation with. Crowd noise played over televised sport comes without context and for some this takes away from the occasion. The ‘new normal’ comes with a figurative Asterisk next to it that can sanitise a sense of sporting accomplishment.

With that being said the past few days will have provided many with some much needed hope. A vaccine with a 90% success rate has been announced by the pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer. As such, people have begun to dream of a return to normality, a life without masks, the resumption of weddings and other celebrations at full capacity, sport with noisy crowds and a genuine atmosphere, festivals and concerts enjoyed by thousands. While we don’t know when any of that might be feasible, the news will still come as a huge relief to millions of people.

The ability to see loved ones without fear of passing on disease and a return to routine should not be understated. It remains to be seen how successful this vaccine will be but for now the hope it provides is enough to get many people to put one foot in front of the other and get through the next few weeks. This hope can be harnessed for the near future and what that may have in store for us all.

There is a very real possibility that we might not be able to see our loved ones this Christmas. Any tangible results from a vaccine may not be seen until much further into the future. It is important to remember that we have been here before. We have been told it would be over by Christmas, that a second lockdown was very unlikely. Just today Jonathan Van-Tam, a leading government advisor on epidemiolog, stated there is no timeline for a return to pre Covid life.

All this means we must use the resources available to us. Call your loved ones, keep hope and remain vigilant. This way of life isn’t over yet but we may be at the beginning of the end.

2020 will have given many people FOMO. As we come to an end of the year there may finally be some hope
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#15 Change

It is often said that people don’t like change, that it makes them uncomfortable and whilst that’s not as true as you might think, this year has really brought that mentality into most of our lives.

The enforced changes we have all gone through can represent a significant series of obstacles to over come. Some will take it all in their stride, some will wilt at the very thought and plenty will be stuck somewhere in the middle.

Fear of change is something deeply rooted in human psyche. We’re wary of what we don’t know as part of the evolutionary process as much as anything else. We tend to fear new experiences and that can hinder our progress at a time in human history where we are less likely to be dragged off into the wilderness and eaten by the wildlife for taking the opportunity to change our lives.

Change doesn’t have to be terrifying. We see it around us all the time: The weather, seasons and our environments constantly evolve and for the most part we are able to cope. Moving house for instance, is recognised as a stress trigger, however it’s a change that can also be rewarding. Sometimes change offers us the opportunity to start afresh, to reinvent ourselves or simply try something new.

Lot’s of people will recall experiences where they felt overwhelmed or at the very least apprehensive only to realise fairly quickly that the fear stems from themselves rather than the task at hand. What felt brand new and intimidating a few weeks ago can often very quickly become routine.

Take changing jobs or setting up your own business for instance, this isn’t always a blind leap of faith, rather an opportunity to embark on a different path and journey. Change offers us the chance to test ourselves and to give a sense of achievement.

Change can sometimes be very personal. Relationships, friendships and family dynamics can change slowly or overnight and these kinds of changes, whilst often painful, always have a lesson to take away from them. They bring new people into our lives and that in itself offers its own opportunities.

Resistance to change has always been around. Just as the BLM movement is experiencing opposition, women’s suffrage had to endure extreme ridicule and hate. Significant political change is always controversial at the time, then often seen as common sense further down the historical line.

When you add the word change after climate it provokes a whole host of emotions, thoughts and concerns. There are so many connotations to this six letter word and nearly all have strong positive or negative emotions attached to them.

Whilst we might not always be able to embrace change, we should try to overcome our primal fear of it. We can always use it as an opportunity for personal growth and removing some of the fear attached to it may just get you the dream job you’ve always wanted or the courage to see a part of the world you can learn so much from.

In the past century we have experienced technological change at a rate much faster than any other in human history. Whether or not these ‘advances’ are a power for good remains to be seen but either way you can guarantee there will be no end to the inevitable force that is change as long as we roam this planet.. and long after we’ve left it.

Opportunity or Overwhelming?

#14 Binge

The word binge will conjure different images for different people. Some will immediately think of a Netflix series they watched in next to no time, others may think of food, for others the word will be more about alcohol and partying.

However we think of binging (sic), it now seems to be a part of modern culture. It can take up time, make us happy or unhappy and is often a substitute for real life experiences, but all of us will binge on something at some point in our lives.

The way we consume things has changed. Netflix, social media, apps and other technological advances now put what we want within touching distance. Don’t fancy cooking? Simple, just order from deliveroo. Looking for some companionship and/or sex? Tinder and other apps can help with that. So much of what we want in life is now readily available at the click of a button.

The topic of this blog may be uncomfortable to some and without meaning to come across as an edgy writer for ‘Vice’, that’s too bad. It is important to recognise that we can’t eat or fuck our feelings away. Whilst there is nothing wrong with over indulging from time to time, binging can’t become a habit without having a detrimental effect on both mental and physical health.

When we look at the news and current affairs, the way we interact with and get our news is entirely different from 10 years ago. Twitter for instance allows you become part of an evolving news story. There are ‘hot takes’ from tribal factions on both sides of the argument and often that becomes as important, if not more than the original story. Columnists and talk show hosts become the pantomime villain or saviour supreme depending on which side of the argument you are on. Almost everyone has an opinion and more often that not, they will feel emboldened to share these views for likes, comments and debate.

A lot of this is due to social media. Some will have grown accustomed to hearing people talk about a social media detox, this is due to their binging on the very platforms that claim to bring us together. The reality is often quite different.

As we approach a date many in England will have been keenly waiting for the word binge comes into focus again..

The pub, that great British institution that is held so dear to so many patrons up and down the country. It has influenced culture, been the hub of the community and the venue for violence and heated debate for centuries. With apologies to our American cousins, July 4th has historically not been a date of celebration in England. For plenty there will be a party atmosphere a week this Saturday. Binge drinking has been a problem here for a long time and with the NHS and police force both having been stretched in recent times, it may well be they are called upon again. Binge culture, it would seem, is here to stay.

 

 

#13 Grief

Grief comes to us in a number of ways. For many the past few months will have felt unbearable. The change in lifestyle, the things we may have taken for granted, the ability to hug loved ones or do the things that help take our minds of the stresses and strains of daily life. All of this will have felt like grief to some people.

Others will have experienced the pain of losing those closest to them through Covid 19 or other causes and will have had their experiences with grief changed and altered in a way they could not have expected. Dealing with loss is never easy but in these times of great uncertainty the process will have been exasperated and many will have had to come to terms with the death of those they love so dearly in an entirely different way.

I have had personal experiences with grief from a relatively young age, the loss of dear friends and the heartache of failed relationships all build new layers in all of us as we grow as people. Everyone will have different coping mechanisms and all of us will unfortunately have to deal with grief at some point in our lives.

There have been some very public displays of grief over the past week or so that have brought inequality and injustice to the forefront of our attention. People for generations have lost their lives due to the colour of their skin, their sexuality or their political beliefs and the mass outrage to all of this can be seen in the news and on various social media platforms.

I would encourage every single person who reads this and beyond to take stock of what is important in your lives. Educate yourself so that you do not add to anyone’s grief and grieving process. No one should have to wonder why their life mattered less that anyone else’s and as we continue our day to day lives it should not be forgotten that we participate in political, economic and social systems that actively make the sheer act of living more difficult for huge groups of people on a daily basis.

As I write this post I am coming to terms with some of my own pain but am able to gain some perspective due to current affairs and what is happening in the world. As a society we must do more to understand those who lead different lives to our own. We must be prepared to change our opinions and behaviours when presented with evidence and information that conflicts with our own world views.

It is important to stay grateful for what we have got and try not to get caught up in what we are missing in our lives. Each and every person has the opportunity to make the lives of others better through simply checking our own behaviour and making sure we know how our actions will effect others.

Reach out to people you think need to be heard, try not to judge actions without using empathy. Do not be bound by a misguided sense of moral superiority, especially without knowing the circumstances of any given situation. Try always to act with kindness and compassion.

This post was a long time in coming, I have written several drafts in the past month on various subjects but none seemed as important as this. Now more than ever it is a time for humble education. Listen to the voices of Black Lives Matter, pay attention to the Pride movement and as always be kind.

Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire The Sunday Times Bestseller P.D.F
Recommended reading Akala – Natives

 

#12 Weather

The weather. Something us Brits are obsessed with. Something we talk about on an almost daily basis. It can have a profound effect on our mood, our daily plans, our work and what we do with our lives.

I have just returned from a brisk walk. I needed some fresh air after a morning of doing little more than checking emails and passing my time watching Netflix. The weather has turned today. It’s a wet and grey day as it so often is in this country. We have been blessed with weeks of sunshine as winter turned into spring. At a time of worry because of corona virus, the sun has provided many of us with a much needed lift.

As I lay in bed early this morning listening to the rain I felt a sense of familiarity and comfort. There is a certain peace to listening to the rainfall, especially when it is so quiet first thing in the morning. While this weather may not be great for getting outside or sitting in the garden as many of us grown accustomed to, sometimes it’s great for concentrating, relaxing with a book or just watching the world go by.

Like a lot of people I would have to say my favourite weather is the sunshine but it doesn’t always have to be hot. There’s a lot to be said for cold, frosty morning walk. The cold air is bracing and hits your lungs and helps wake your whole body up. There is a certain quality to sitting in front of an open fire and listening to the wind and rain outside too.

Each season has it’s own quality. Spring brings new life into the green areas that have been dark for so long. The birdsong, which is so much more audible with less traffic on the roads, reminds us the winter is over and longer days are on their way. The autumn brings us an incredible array of colours and I am lucky enough to live somewhere where watching the leaves change colour is a breathtaking sight to behold. The summer brings a sense of freedom and fun. There are often holidays or plans made for this time of year so that people have something to look forward to. BBQs, beer gardens and outdoor activities. Then there is the winter and while I have no problem with winter itself the last one was a wash out. It wasn’t particularly cold but it rained for what seemed like an eternity. There is always Christmas to look forward to though with family and friends. When we get a true winter and we see frost and snowfall that brings about its own beauty.

Musicians have made whole works about the weather for hundreds of years. From Vivaldi to Oasis the weather has inspired symphonies and lyrics for generations and will continue to do so for as long as we walk the earth. In the past 48 hours, nearly every person I have spoken to has mentioned the weather. Maybe it is because we have no control over it or maybe it is because of the cause and effect nature it has but it’s a subject we love to cover more than almost any other.

#11 Social media

I have touched on this subject in previous posts but given that we are living in such extraordinary times it feels like as good a time as any to write about social media. Especially as we are all likely to be consuming more of it right now.

Managing social media is a fine balance. Often we live so much of our lives through these channels we forget to look up and enjoy what is in front of us and the people around us. Whilst it’s absolutely fine to celebrate our victories, support each other and share things that make us laugh and learn, it is important we don’t get sucked into living our lives through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc.

I have seen whole relationships ruined by social media. A lack of trust, sometimes misplaced, sometimes justified, built up all through algorithms and people’s inability to resist temptation. Companies profit from making our lives easier and this culture has lead to an impatient behaviour in our day to day lives. We want something, we order it on Amazon Prime and get it delivered the next day. We see something or someone we like the look of and we can message them instantly.

For every photo that gets all the likes and comments that release those little drops of dopamine into our brains, there are often hundreds that have been deleted. Instead of embracing our flaws and imperfections we often try and live a perfect virtual life that really isn’t who we are or where we are going. This culture of instant gratification is unhealthy.

Social media has become so intrinsic in our behaviour that it encourages gossip and relies on us giving up much of our privacy. I constantly hear people say things like ‘did you see what x put on Facebook?’. No longer do we have the luxury of being able to fail without judgement.

Social media has such a toxic side to it that it can be linked to serious mental health issues and even suicide. There are several high profile celebrity cases of this which shows that we have a lot to learn about the way we use the platforms. There is also some responsibility to placed at the feet of those running the sites and apps. People should be able to use social media without fear of being attacked by strangers or even people they know hiding behind fake or anonymous profiles.

I am not free from sin in any of this. I have used social media as an escape from real life and been sucked into a cycle of getting my hits from likes, comments and shares. When we look at Facebook for instance people often have hundreds if not thousands of ‘friends’. If the chips were down and you really needed to rely on people, how many from your friends list could you really count on? How many were added after a drunken night out? And how many were just an ego boost after you changed your profile picture?

I ask all that without any judgement, I just think it’s something we should all consider. Especially when we are likely to have increased activity on our phones, tablets and laptops. When we are feeling lonely or upset it can be easy to replace real relationships with getting likes and comments even though this deep down we know this isn’t really a healthy way to treat ourselves.

That being said there are plenty of people using social media in good, fun and creative ways and it would be remiss of me not to point out that I use several social media sites to share these blog posts. As I said at the beginning of this it’s all about striking the right balance.

#10 Sleep

Unfortunately I have never been very good at sleeping. An overactive mind can lead to me thinking about a whole host of things in the small hours of the night, some of which are truly ridiculous. Be it work worries, personal problems that I’ve built up to be much bigger than they are or old memories that still haunt me, there are times when sleep is really difficult to come by.

There are a few ways to try and combat this. Personally I need a dark and quiet environment to sleep in but I know that won’t work for everyone. I try and switch off from electronic devices at least half and hour before I plan to sleep and I find that reading before bed helps me to drop off a little quicker. Sometimes the book is too good to put down so be wary of getting too stuck in or you’ll find yourself saying ‘just one more chapter’ to yourself and this defeats the object.

In times like these it can be very easy to destroy your regular sleep pattern but it’s important to try and maintain some normality. Monday to Friday my alarm is still set at the regular times I would be getting up for work and I still try and make myself get up at a reasonable time on the weekend, even if I don’t really want to!

Last night was really tough. I had my sleep disrupted several times throughout the night and didn’t get anywhere near enough. I must confess I am pretty hopeless at functioning without enough sleep. It effects my performance in every day tasks and can make me pretty irritable and unpleasant to be around.

During the past few weeks I have noticed my dreams getting more vivid and at times they are really strange. I can only put this down to the lock down and all of the circumstances that surround this. Either way I’m pretty sure a shrink would have a field day with my subconscious at the moment!

I have been battling with a subject matter to write about of late. There are plenty I’d like to go into more detail about but I feel my current head space wouldn’t allow me to do justice to anything I want to write about in depth and a lot of that is down to how poorly I have been sleeping.

There are some really good podcasts out there on the subject and I would encourage anyone who is feeling like their sleep is currently out of balance to do some research and get stuck into one. Worst case scenario the podcast is really boring and it might just put you to sleep!

Another factor for poor sleep is diet. If you are eating the wrong things at the wrong times your body is going to struggle to shut down at night so be sure to keep an eye on this. I know all to well that it’s easy to get stuck in a routine of bad eating habits at the moment especially when you’re struggling for things to do. I have told myself countless times over the past week or so ‘you’re not hungry, you’re bored’. It’s also easy to forget to take on enough fluids. No I’m not encouraging anyone to get drunk here, remember to get enough water on board so your body can function throughout the day. This will help get you to sleep at night.

As always I hope everyone reading this is coping okay with the lock down and if anyone needs to reach out to talk I am happy to be a sympathetic ear.. Just don’t message or call in the middle of the night!

#9 Music

Music is a powerful tool. It can lift your spirits, remind you of better times and help you through difficult periods. Often just by singing (Apologies to those who have to hear it) I can make myself feel something other than pain in times of discomfort.

It also helps elevate experiences. You can often remember great memories and what the soundtrack was to that point in your life. Listening to certain songs can bring those times flooding back and that can be a comfort especially during periods of unrest.

I often think of gigs I’ve been to and the incredible highs felt when belting out the lyrics to favourite songs back at those on stage. I can only imagine how incredible it must feel to those artists to have thousands of people singing the words to the work they have worked so hard to create back to them.

There are albums that have a very special personal meaning to me, songs that lift my mood and others that just help pass the time. The music we listen to is often so meaningful to us that we forget that it will have a whole different perspective attached to it for everyone that hears it.

Growing up listening to the radio and my parents music either at home or in the car always makes me think back to specific times in my childhood. Trips away to the beach or travelling to meet members of our extended family. Certain songs make us think of people we know and love and others remind us of ourselves.

Growing up a child of the 90s I feel blessed to have lived through the Brit Pop era. I can always recall a time where Blur and Oasis released songs at the same time and the press and media made a huge thing of who would make it to number one in the charts. Back then the charts really meant something. There was no Spotify to call upon and as a kid I’d often record the top 40 on a cassette (I know some of you might not even remember them).

Like many my musical taste is varied and covers a huge spectrum. There’s the music that makes me want to dance, the music I only listen to alone and music that can’t help but lift your spirits. I am a sucker for older music. It’s not that I don’t enjoy more modern music I just don’t feel the same affiliation to it that I do with the stuff from the past 30 years in particular.

I spent this morning belting out some Oasis. Put the volume up loud to drown out my own voice, hit play and sung until my lungs hurt. Singing is like therapy to me and I enjoy the release it gives to me even if it does hurt the ears of everyone around me!

When this lock down is over I am going to look at trying to get to some more gigs and enjoying the freedom music can give to me.  I hope everyone is dealing with this situation in their own way. If you need a pick me up, put your earphones in or blast it out through the speakers. Either way play some music and let some light into your life.

#8 Staying on track

In these very uncertain times it is easy to focus on what you are missing rather than taking the time to focus on yourself. We will all be missing people, activities and normality but it is important to remember that there is plenty to be positive about and be grateful for.

Our mobile phones are a great distraction and help us to connect with others and track our activities and progress but they can also distance us from what’s truly important in life. I have been guilty of this especially over the past couple of weeks. Be it calorie counting, tracking exercise or losing yourself in social media our phones can be both a help and a hindrance. What’s important is that you do what you set out to achieve, not keeping track of it all on a small box. I’m not going to beat myself up for spending more time on my phone than usual, let’s face it there is only so much to keep us occupied right now. I am however making sure I give myself a break from my phone by switching it off for a couple of hours a day to focus on daily tasks and some time for myself.

In the past week I have enjoyed getting outside and trying to take in the fresh air where possible as well making myself physically tired with jobs that I would normally put off or not have the opportunity to do. There is something about a hard day’s work that feels very different to being tired from doing very little.

Social media can be great for lifting spirits, especially when everyone is feeling a little isolated or vulnerable. There are plenty of people out there using this enforced down time to get creative and produce videos and memes to keep us entertained. Try not to get too caught up in what others are doing though as we’re all struggling with similar issues right now and boredom can lead to overthinking and negative thoughts.

Don’t get too upset if you have days where you’re motivation is low or you’re not eating as well as you’d like. We are all going to feel like that from time to time. What’s important is that we remain grateful for who and what we’ve got and make the most of the times where we do feel able to do something of worth.

I have really struggled for the inspiration to write over the past week. There are times where I could write for hours and others where nothing comes to me. So be it. It’s not the end of the world if people don’t hear from me for a while and the world will keep turning if we have a day watching Netflix or reading a book.

I have a busy day planned for tomorrow and feel appreciative of that. Come the end of the day I’ll be tired and will have something to show for my work. When this is all over I will make a conscious effort to remind myself of the people and activities I am truly grateful for so as to keep myself from getting drawn into a cycle of monotony and ill feeling.

Having tried to be as productive as possible this morning I am now looking forward to keeping myself entertained with Netflix this afternoon. If anyone has any suggestions of activities to get us through this then please feel free to drop them in the comments.

Stay safe everyone and more importantly stay positive. Nothing is forever!