Self-Isolation Strategies: Nikki’s Operation Safety Bubble

Monday, March 30, 2020
By Nikki Walters

Bunny in a box

Your beloved Support Czar Nikki (AKA shanaqui) is next in our trapped-in-our-apartments blog series (previously: Mary on creating challenges) and gives some inspiring examples of how they’re beeminding their health, happiness, and higher education (like learning more about COVID-19!).

Everything’s a bit of a mess right now. Okay, you can say that any time, but this time I think people all over the place are going to agree. The problem for me is that it’s hard to segment that off from my normal everyday life, which I still have to live: dishes have to get into and out of the dishwasher, I still need to drink more water, and all your emails still need answering. It’s already quite hard for me to block out worries (hooboy, that anxiety disorder) and now… well.

So I need a safety bubble, to help me keep things in context and face the situation with some degree of dignity. So how am I doing it? Using Beeminder, of course! There are basically four categories to my response:

  1. How are my existing goals feeling? Do they need dialling up or down to help me respond to the situation?
  2. What do I need to do less of now that I never thought of beeminding before?
  3. What do I need to boost my feelings of happiness and fulfillment?
  4. Is there anything else I need to beemind to boost my physical health?

Let’s break it down further, and add in some tasty examples…

How are my existing goals feeling?

The UK government has, at the time of writing, issued instructions that we should only leave our homes for one form of exercise per day. My usual form of exercise is walking supplemented by some bodyweight workouts, so I had a step goal… dialled as if I’d be going out for walks three times a day. Alas, my step goal, we hardly knew ye — archive! I just can’t guarantee the lockdown isn’t going to mess this up entirely.

Then I have a long-standing goal called reassurance that has always been aimed at helping with my anxiety. For some people with anxiety, there’s a cycle: ask for reassurance about a thing, receive reassurance about the thing, require more reassurance about the thing. For me, that circle tends to get tighter and tighter, with the reassurance required more and more often and more promptly.

Shanaqui's reassurance goal on Beeminder

So how do I want to dial this goal for this situation? Maybe I want a little more leeway; maybe it’s okay to seek reassurance right now to help balance out everything else. Maybe I want to be stricter than ever: no spirals here! It’s worth a good long think about goals that cut both ways like this one. I’ve opted to leave it the same and see how things go. That’s the beauty of Beeminder: you’re not locked into a goal for any longer than seven days. I definitely advise people to make room for reviewing their goals to suit their needs on a regular basis. You could even beemind it…

What do I need to do less of now, that I never thought of beeminding before?

It doesn’t matter whether you format this as a do-less goal (for which you need premium) or a do-more goal that requires +1 every day to say you’re keeping up with it: the point is, for a lot of people we’re now engaging in really unhealthy behaviours. Maybe people newly working from home are learning that if they stay in their jammies all day, they feel ick. (I’ve been beeminding that since September 2018.)

For me, the no-brainer here is my habit of checking the news. It’s another of those anxious cycles. Wait! A wild Beeminder goal appears, and now I can only check the news twice per day.

Shanaqui's no-news-is-good-news goal on Beeminder

What do I need to do to boost my feelings of happiness and fulfilment?

When times are tough, it’s good to have something to look forward to, and it’s also good to keep your mind working on other things. I’ve gone with boosting both with my new goals. On the end of pure fun, I have my readalong of The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon, alongside the other workerbees. Heck yeah, we’re all beeminding that! I also have a goal to attend rehearsal for the Great British Home Chorus [1] every single day (except weekends, when there’s no rehearsal). It doesn’t matter if I have to play it back later, but I’ve got to keep up!

Shanaqui's Great British Home Chorus goal on Beeminder

But it’s not just about things that directly make you happy. It’s good to have goals which make you feel like you’re making the best of your time — and for me, the best goals for that are always about learning something. And even though this is Operation Safety Bubble, that doesn’t mean never thinking about what’s going on: I’ve picked up courses on FutureLearn and Coursera all about our very best friend, COVID-19, because understanding it will help me better evaluate the news.

Shanaqui's COVID-19 goal on Beeminder

If you have some long-term career goals, maybe now’s the time to work on those! I’m not beeminding it yet, but I have an application for an MSc I should be working on… I just need to figure out the best way to shoehorn this into a goal.

What do I need to beemind to boost my physical health?

There are some unique challenges right now, like the restrictions on exercising out-of-doors I mentioned earlier. What’s more, I live in an upstairs flat with a crotchety downstairs neighbour who would not thank me if I ordered a treadmill, though goodness knows I’m tempted. I miss stretching my legs!

So I need some new goals. This one isn’t brand new, but it’s a recent one: I’ve got to do six bodyweight workouts per week.

Shanaqui's bodyweight workouts goal on Beeminder

I’m thinking about adding in a goal for following one of Yoga with Adriene’s calendars. Some of those themes look apropos — anyone else feeling the need for a reset?

The point is, you need to remember to make space in your current routine for your physical health as well as your mental health. It’s not about coming out of quarantine looking ripped (unless you want it to be), so maybe your goals for health would be more about remembering to turn your screens off a couple of hours before bed, or remembering to drink enough water.


So that’s it; those are my four steps for re-evaluating my Beeminder goals to support me — and push me! — during Britain’s lockdown. Don’t forget that this is an ongoing process: what’s working for you now might not work in a month’s time. It’s always going to be worth trying out a goal and seeing how it feels.


 

Footnotes

[1] Not just for Brits! I know of people in the Netherlands taking part.

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