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My week in wellness: A 31-year-old trying to stay positive after losing her job during the pandemic

This week, a home cook and recent sea swimming convert talks us through her week.

TheJournal.ie reader

WELCOME TO HOW I Live, a new wellness diary series on TheJournal.ie.

We’re asking readers to keep a record of their mental and physical routines every day for one week – what their stress levels are like, how much activity they fit in (or don’t fit in), and how much sleep they get.

Each wellness diary is submitted by readers just like you. When reading and commenting, bear in mind that this is simply an account of a week in someone’s shoes, and their situation may not be relatable for everyone.

If you’re interested in submitting your own How I Live diary, email wellness@thejournal.ie with your name, age, location and a few lines about your current health and wellness goals.

This week, we hear from a Dublin woman who knits, cooks, studies and swims – and is currently out of work due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Option 2A Final

Occupation: Unemployed at the moment, studying remotely part-time
Age: 31
Location: Dublin
Who you live with: I live alone

I moved back to my family home in Dublin last year after seven years living abroad, and needless to say the Covid-19 pandemic changed my plans for my first year home significantly. The rest of my family are living elsewhere for various reasons, so my set up is quite unusual in that I’m living by myself in the house. Living by myself is not my preferred state and it does get a little lonely.

I’m currently on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment as my job in service was suspended back in March. I’m studying remotely part time and I love to knit and cook – both fairly pandemic-proof hobbies, thankfully. 

Daily activity levels: I would like to be more active. I get out for a walk every day, and swim in the sea at least once a week, but I’d like to spend more time on conscious exercise.
Daily stress levels: Like everyone, I’m working on not letting the pandemic worry get on top of me. I miss work and being able to live my life as normal, but I know I’m lucky compared to so many, so I try to keep things in perspective.
Eating/drinking habits: I love cooking and food and I’m generally quite healthy – I take a lot of care with what I eat, so even when it’s not necessarily the healthiest I like to think it’s always nourishing in one way or another. I love wine, but since I’m living alone I try to make sure I’m not drinking too much.
Sleep quality: I usually sleep quite well, but I’m really trying to improve my “screen health” by spending less time on my phone before bed.
Self-care: I’m pretty conscious of my mental wellbeing, and I have some good habits in place.

Tuesday

Morning: I wake up around 8am but stay in bed until 9.30am, checking the news and scrolling through Instagram. I’ve found that even though I don’t have to get to work these days, if I stay in bed any later than this, it throws me off all day and makes me feel sluggish and extra unemployed. Similarly I make sure I always wash my face in the morning, and shower and get dressed. Being accidentally still in my pyjamas by midday can send me into a dreadful tailspin mood-wise. I have some sourdough toast for breakfast.

Mid-morning: I notice with mild panic that my PUP hasn’t come through as it usually does. It’s pretty stressful and I spend a fraught forty minutes on hold on the phone to Revenue. When I finally get through the woman I speak to is so lovely and so helpful that it makes me want to cry from relief. I go for a walk to shake off the stress and worry, and listen to an audiobook I’m really enjoying.

Afternoon: I do some bits and pieces around the house, while worrying that I should be doing some work on my course instead. I’m studying remotely and although I’m loving it and finding it really interesting, it’s never been easy for me to stick to a self-imposed schedule, which makes remote study really hard for me. I worry sometimes that I’m expending more energy worrying about falling behind than actually doing the work, but it’s so hard to know how to fix habits of a lifetime. Being unemployed and having so much time on my hands does not suit me.

Evening: I put a big pot of bean and vegetable soup on to cook slowly over a few hours. Not because I’m hungry necessarily but because I know it’ll make me feel like I’ve accomplished something with my day. I’ll freeze most of it for later in the week. I have three glasses of wine with dinner, which is definitely too many for one person living alone on a weekday evening.

I pick up the jumper I’m knitting at 9pm and turn on a series I’ve already watched on Netflix. I find knitting really meditative. It’s midnight by the time I set my work down and I’ve got a good chunk of it done. I do my bedtime routine and potter about a bit, and am in bed by 1am.

Wednesday

Morning: I’ve picked up a habit recently of listening to the radio in the morning. At the beginning of the pandemic I found it was hard to find a balance when it came to how much news I was consuming – too much and I found it quite stressful, and too little and I found myself feeling adrift and disconnected. I’ve definitely found a better balance now

Afternoon: I finally sit down to do some coursework, and get through a whole module. It’s really interesting, I feel really engaged and energised by it.

Evening: I go for a walk and a chat by the canal with a friend. I’m more appreciative than ever of my close friends, and I’m always chatting with someone, over WhatsApp or FaceTime or on the phone or via stream-of-consciousness style voice notes. I’m a true extrovert and so even though living alone has its perks, it’s not my preferred state. I’m lucky because two of my oldest and closest friends live just around the corner, so we tend to see each other several times a week, which feels like a real gift.

Bedtime: I get home around 11.30pm and go straight to bed – I neglect my skincare which I know I’ll regret in the morning.

Thursday

Morning: I get up and do a big proper hair wash and blow dry. It feels important to keep doing things that seem small but really keep my mood up – not keeping my hair in a ratty bun every day is one of them. It might seem trivial but it’s another thing that really keeps me feeling normal and sane.

Afternoon: I meet my dad for lunch on a restaurant terrace. It’s so great to be able to see him a little more now, he’s vulnerable to Covid so he’s been taking cocooning very seriously. We split a bottle of wine and have some good chats, and run some masked-up errands in town afterwards. Small things that I appreciate so much more now.

Evening: A friend has sent me a video taken of us years ago in a bar in the city I used to live in, so I go to bed feeling nostalgic and missing my pals abroad.

Friday

Morning: I wake up feeling blue! By mid-morning I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed by pandemic fatigue and am a bit teary.

Afternoon: I decide getting out of the house for the afternoon will make me feel better so I go for a long walk, get a coffee and sit in the park and read. I send a few rambling voice notes and chat with friends – I know I’m not the only one feeling frustrated and overwhelmed at the moment, and it helps to talk it out.

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Evening: I make pasta for dinner, ultimate comfort food after a low day. I meet some friends for an outside drink – it’s cold but great to see them. I’m grateful to be feeling better by bedtime than I did this morning.

Saturday

Morning: I meet friends for a long walk in the Phoenix Park. It’s a gorgeous day and so nice to be out and about. We walk back through IMMA, get a coffee, and say goodbye around lunchtime.

Afternoon: I collect some vegetables from Temple Bar Market on the way home. I go to my friend’s apartment (we’ve made a little “pod” since I live alone) to catch up on the Great British Bake Off – I never really got involved in previous seasons but I’m loving it this year.

Evening: We get a takeaway for dinner and walk into town to see if we can get a drink outside somewhere – town is quite busy so we end up turning around and heading home again. At least we got a stroll in.

Sunday

Morning: I go for a swim at the Forty Foot with my little pod of neighbour friends. Before I moved home last year I made a resolution that I would swim in the sea as much as possible and it’s felt so good to keep that resolution. I’m a sea swimming convert along with the rest of the country (you love to see it) and I’ll be interested to see how long I can keep it up through the winter. It’s really busy, but the tide is high and the water is lovely and calm. 

Afternoon: I get home and get some housework done.

Evening: I have a painter coming in tomorrow so instead of my usual Sunday evening prep for the week I have to clear half the house of furniture and bits. I have a bath and am in bed by 11.

Monday

Morning: I get up at 8.30am shortly before the painter arrives to start work on the kitchen. There’s talk on the radio this morning of going back into lockdown so I’m glad I’m getting this sorted now, even if it means mild chaos for a couple of days.

Afternoon: I have a late lunch with my dad, since we don’t yet know when we’ll get to see each other again if everyone’s movements become more restricted.

Evening: I try to make some sense of the chaos of things in the house I had to move around for the painter, but end up knitting and drinking a glass of wine while watching news of Level 5 restrictions roll in. Texting with friends and family, reminded again how lucky I am to have them. Bed by ten, and I’ve left my phone just slightly out of arm’s reach – not perfect screen health, but it’s an improvement.

What I’ve learned…

  • I could definitely do with cutting out some of the mid-week drinks.
  • As a lifelong non morning person, I have more of a morning routine than I realised.
  • Going forward, I think I’ll try to build my daily walk in to my morning routine – I know it’ll be harder to get up and out in the darker months so I’ll need to be mindful of that. 

Last week’s diary: A 43-year-old yoga teacher who wants to sleep better and spend less time online>

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