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05

MAY, 2020

THE NEW WAY TO FIND HAPPINESS DURING COVID-19 ON THE NORTH DEVON COAST

Being on lockdown is strange — your world seems to come to a standstill, but it also expands your outlook on life to bring out the things you may have forgotten about over recent years. I’ve discovered all sorts over the last 6 weeks. From going on walks and exploring the North Devon Coast Line, to keeping up my fitness up and exploring the macramé craft. You do really forget how important life is and what else is out there to explore apart from trying to please your social media.

The only thing that keeps me going is to know we are all in this together, everybody in the world is affected. It’s really hard. There is so much uncertainty, so much change. But out of all this, there are little moments, little ways to find a spark of happy energy. Here are some of the ways to find those moments…

NOTICE THE LITTLE THINGS

Being in a smaller, uncertain world has also been a joyful experience of discovering the inner child. I’ve felt like a child again — cycling to the little stalls outside of people’s homes to collect my morning eggs and some homemade honey for breakfast. Trying to grow my own vegetables and adventuring out my comfort zone into the bakery world.

As I sit outside in my garden each morning for my breakfast, instead of hearing the kids running and shouting on their way to school there has been a stillness; a new sound to my mornings. From birds singing and chirping to hearing the waves crashing up onto Saunton & Croyde beach. I’ve appreciated the moments of stillness and relaxation, learned to take in where we live and realise how much we take it for granted.

Many a happy hour can be spent on the little things, and it’s not just taking in the new sounds of our new lifestyle we have been coming to terms with — it’s the slowing down of life, sending and receiving new ways to keep in contact with loved ones from old fashioned letters, to cake parcels and taking time to stop for a few moments. Take time out for yourself to find out where you are and where you may wish to go within the few months ahead.

FINDING YOUR WAY TO RELAX

We’re living in stressful times. I don’t know anybody who isn’t suffering with some kind of anxiety at the moment. Sometimes it can be hard to find a way to relax and come back to a so-called “normal” when you feel so stuck in the negative world.

Take a journey with me to find out how I relax and tell my mind it’s going to be ok.

Find a quiet spot — this could be outside in the sunshine, your bedroom or even in the bath.

Now, get comfortable and take a few deep breaths in and out — inhale, exhale.

Listen. Listen to all the sounds around you. What can you hear? I can normally hear the birds; the sounds of stillness.

As you are inhaling and exhaling, listening to new sounds, try and open up to new smells around you. I am so lucky to have a flower patch of lavender in my garden and the smell just passes through me as I inhale.

(Before lockdown I never made time in my day to really take in my surroundings. I thought my lavender wasn’t growing properly as I could never smell it as I was walking past to reach the car each day. But I’ve realised I never stopped to appreciate the smell and senses around me.)

 Each day take 10-minutes out and repeat the stages of breathing, listening and taking in your surroundings.

Start to relax your body from your chest all the way down to your toes, slowly letting go and taking in what is around you.

Focussing on breathing is a calming mechanism and works absolute wonders for anxiety.

IS SMILING A KEY TO KEEP GOING?

I recently read an article/study which showed that if you forced yourself to smile in front of a mirror each day, then pretty quickly, you couldn’t help but smile naturally. And if you smile at someone else, even from afar, then it’s likely to make their day, or gives them a little lift at the very least. I always think seeing a friendly smile from afar, whether it’s from a stranger or someone I know, is a very comforting feeling. An action that makes me think everything is going to be ok.

EXERCISE

It’s really hard if you’re feeling low to get out and do some exercise. But once you’ve done it, then woah, the feeling is like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. Once you get into a routine of some kind, you won’t find exercising a chore, as it will become a way of life. So, whether you’re walking outside or dancing whilst cooking dinner, trust me, you’ll feel great afterwards.

Some totally amazing creativity has come out of the lockdown.  As I mentioned already, I have turned my hand to macramé crafting. It has actually been a life saver and kept my mind from ticking over. I ordered some yarn off amazon, got my tape measure and scissors out, and started following a YouTube video. Within a week I was on the path to making a macramé leaf hanging feature. Of course, it didn’t turn out as great as the tutorial one but hey I gave it my best shot and I felt so proud of myself for learning something I would have never thought of doing. The best thing is, the harder it is and the longer it takes to do, the more affirming it is to do it.  So, do something creative and see where you get to! Embrace the new creativity you can explore from crafts, gardening, music.

THE FUTURE

We don’t know when “normal” life may resume. I know for certain I will be out cleaning holiday homes in North Devon and renting my cottages as soon as it’s safe to do so. Having this time out has made me realise that this is what I can see myself doing for many years to come and how much I enjoy it.

So, whilst you’re taking your 10-minute meditation or focusing on your new creative activity, ask yourself: am I happy? Will I be happy to return to my “normal” life? Learn from what you’ve enjoyed doing during lockdown and keep doing it even after normality resumes. Don’t lose yourself when we return.

Georgina Lees – SeaShore Cottages Founder

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