How have you been? If you’re anything like me you’ve been losing your mind regaining your mind losing your mind nearly regaining your mind losing your mind wondering what your mind is hoping your mind is for something regaining a bit of your mind losing your mind and repeating.
None of us knows where we are right now. It’s hard. Don’t beat yourself up. It’s hard. You’re allowed for it to feel hard. Because… It’s hard.
I’ve spent a chunk of time that I could have spent writing posts beating myself up for not writing posts. The whole idea of writing has been knocked out of me for great chunks of the year. It’s hard. I”m going to try to give myself a break. Which is hard. Because it is.
So, this one’s merely to say, we’re living in a fucked up world right now, and need to be kind to everyone, and everyone includes ourselves. Often the hardest person to be kind to.
And, if you’ve found yourself smirking at the repeated use of the word “hard”, well, you are my people. Never change.
There’s a big old bunch of other stuff that you can do to help, some if it WELL EASY.
You can download the Covid-19 Symptom Tracker that Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Trust have developed, and report how you’re feeling every day. It takes about a minute to self-report, is important to do even if you have no symptoms, and the info is hugely important to the NHS to track the spread and risk of the virus. It’s available for Android and Apple phones, and you can get more information on it here: https://covid.joinzoe.com/
Speaking of folding, Brompton are doing a very brilliant thing, lending bicycles to NHS workers for free so that they don’t have to take public transport. They need to build more to keep up with demand, and are crowdfunding here: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/wheelsforheroes. We’re told they’ll also be making an announcement this week on providing a platform where people can lend their own bikes to NHS workers, so we’ll keep you updated on that.
Then, of course there’s Thank You Baked Potato. Matt Lucas’ classic, reimagined for a stay indoors generation. You can buy a copy to support Feed NHS, who are providing free meals to workers. http://www.thankyoubakedpotato.com/
Stay well. We love you nearly as much as this guy.
I mean, we loved her before the zombie apocalypse, right? Warm, funny, charming, making 6music Breakfast the best way to start the day properly.
But NOW? She’s taken 6music’s two million and counting listeners and turned us into a FAMILY. It’s no longer the best way to start the day properly – it’s the ONLY way.
Feeling alone? Overwhelmed? Anxious? Or pretty much the same as normal? Lauren Laverne’s breakfast show is for you, playing quality music for big-hearted listeners, from a big-hearted DJ who makes it all feel manageable. Kicking off my day by switching it on might be the one thing keeping me saneish right now.
AND she presents Desert Island Discs these days, which might be the PERFECT radio show. If you don’t know it, each week a person of note gets to pick eight pieces of music, a book and a luxury that they would take with them if sent alone to a desert island. It’s been going for fifty years and the back catalogue is available online too. It’s MAGNIFICENT.
Here are links, if you need them (trust me, you need them):
Right. It’s taken them a while, but the government has come up with a plan for self-employed people, and it’s pretty much the same as the help for employees of furlough. They’re promising 80% of profits, up to £2,500.
That’ll be based on average profit per month, based on people’s last three years of tax returns.
If you haven’t yet got your 2019/20 tax return in (aargh!), you’ve got four weeks to file it, and that’ll contribute to your calculation.
The Chancellor of the Exchequor, Rishi Sunak, says that it should cover 95% of self-employed people (those with average profits of over £50K aren’t included).
That’s the good news. The bad is that payments won’t be paid until June, BUT they will be backdated to March.
We’ll get the relevant links to you ASAP, but those are the headlines.
Staying in can be hard. Not least because there are a lot of chairs at home. Sitting is not our friend. Last night’s message from the UK Prime Minister underlined the importance of exercise, by making it one of the few things we can leave the house to do. That can be a run, a walk, a cycle or, as Michael Gove said this morning, working on your allotment, if you’re lucky enough to have one.
Bearing in mind that staying home is still preferable, safety wise, what to do?
Top of the list has to be nation’s P.E. teacher, Joe Wicks. 24 carat gold national treasure that he’s now become, Joe’s doing P.E. lessons for kids every day at 9am on YouTube. But why should kids have all the fun? I’m doing it, and it’s great. It is likely saving parents’ sanity the world over, and the first session (yesterday’s) has so far been watch 3.5million times. Join in! The first one’s here, and from there you can subscrie to his YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rz0go1pTda8&t=462s
Next up, for those of us who want to treat the current situation as a preamble to the Zombie Apocalypse, ZombiesRun, the utterly brilliant gamefied and mission-led way to keep up a running schedule, has released a new lockdown mission called The Home Front TODAY. Free home workouts with a story. That’ll do. You can downoad from your app store. https://zombiesrungame.com/
I’m a big fan of the Darebee Resource. A massive truckload of downloadable, printable workouts. You can search by body part, what you want to achieve, your level of fitness, or just go for one you like the name of. You can download workout cards, and even a couple of dice to randomise your day. https://darebee.com/
Got a mind as well as a body? Two-birds-with-one-stone it with Do Yoga With Me, a massive online yoga resource, lots of it free, with tons of different teachers working at all levels. Something for everyone, and calming too. https://www.doyogawithme.com/
I’m going to leave it there, as my wrist is buzzing to tell me I haven’t moved around enough this hour. That’s another thing to do – set a timer so that, if you are mainly deskbound at the moment, you at least get up and run around, walk around, do star jumps or stretch every hour.
Now seems like a pretty good time to start meditating, right? Damn right! There’s evidence that it reduces stress, improves sleep and increases happiness. If nothing else, it might take up some time that you might otherwise spend staring at the wall or wondering whether your cat would like a haircut.
There are loads of resources around to help you do learn to meditate. Here are just a few.
In all likelihood, you’ve already heard of Headspace. Andy Puddicombe and his the team at Headspace have been at the forefront of mindfulness science and accessibility for about a decade. There are free meditations on their website (and in app), AND they’re making more of their content free during the Covid-19 business. There’s also a funkton of information about the science behind meditation on their website. https://www.headspace.com/
Insight Timer is free! Hooray for free! Tons of meditations, calming groovy music, podcasts and the odd lecture on meditation from all sorts of different traditions. Hundreds of different teachers, so you can find the one that’s right for you. https://insighttimer.com
Calm is an enormous resource for meditation, sleep and relaxation. To be completely honest, I don’t know it that well, but it has a 7 day free trial, which I’ll look into and report back on. And can 50,000,000 downloads really be wrong, Michael? https://www.calm.com/
You’ll find all of these on the relevant app store, if you have a phone, or via the links above.
A big recommendation from me would be the Sitting Buddha book by Rev. Master Daishin Morgan of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives. He writes specifically about Soto Zen meditation, but I heartily point you at it for general instruction on getting your meditate on. You can download it, FOR FREE, here: https://throssel.org.uk/sitting-buddha-book/#
If none of these things are your bag, just taking some time to sit quietly anytime and anywhere is likely to help your brain.
Ideally your hips will be higher than your knees, to help make sure you don’t slump.
Just sit upright, partially or fully close your eyes, and just check in with where you’re at – how your body is feeling, what thoughts are arising (let them pass), and count your breaths to help focus.
Looking after your brain unit is massively important when we’re not living through batshit times, so even more so now.
Slowly losing our minds that we’re not really qualified to help? Check!
Lucky us! We’ve won the volunteering lottery!
It’s very easy to feel pretty craphouse at the moment. Uncertainty reigns, and some of our industries are in stasis for the foreseeable.
But with time on our hands, and a bona fide crisis occurring outside our doors, there are ways to help, get busy (not like that)(though there is that too), and keep occupied. Here are just a few ideas on what we can do to engage that Blitz spirit that awful people keep wanging on about.
Red Cross. You can become a Red Cross Community Reserve Volunteer. Basically, you sign up to be called upon if your local community requires emergency assistance. You don’t need special skills, and they’ll provide training if need be. It’s a really easy sign up at https://reserves.redcross.org.uk/
NHS 111. There’s much talk of 111 call waiting times, and the NHS are looking into recruiting more phone operators. Worth keeping an eye out to see if there are vacancies near you. https://www.jobs.nhs.uk/xi/search_vacancy/
Troubled times, friends, with huge uncertainty, and whole industries grinding to a halt. The UK government is gradually making its mind up on what to do, but one thing it has done is make it easier to apply for Universal Credit. If you’re self-employed the level of economic uncertainty is that much greater, so we’d recommend applying for Universal Credit ASAP, if you’re eligible.
Eligibility requirements are pretty straightforward. You can apply if:
you live in the UK
you’re on a low income or out of work
you’re between 18 and state pension age (some exceptions if you’re 16 to 17)
you and your partner together have £16,000 or less in savings
The standard allowance for single people is £251.77 if you’re under 25, and £317.82 if you’re over 25. There’s a bit more if you’re in a couple, but not much. And there are extra allowances if you have children, are disabled, or care for a disabled person. Also help with housing and prescription costs for some people. All of which adds up and all helps, dunnit?
Universal Credit is paid into your bank account monthly. To apply you’ll need your bank, building society or credit union details, your email address, info about your income and housing payments, and proof of identity.
We’ve been preparing The Wild Freelancer for a while now. Beavering away in the background, getting advice and information for freelancers of all stripes ready on finance, physical and mental health, community and generally navigating the world of self-employment. Events have somewhat overtaken us (we’re writing this in the middle of March 2020). So, while we’re still going to do all those things, we’re going to get some content out fast on how Covid-19 is affecting freelancers (short answer – a lot).
Adding it all up, we’ve worked for… a lot of years in acting, writing, consultancy and temping, and want to use that experience to help other self-employed folk. And help ourselves, because lots of the advice we’re going to give is stuff we often need reminding of. Like: doing the washing up will help your brain; a shoebox full of receipts is a good start; Homes Under the Hammer is your friend, but not always. That kind of thing.
We’re based in the UK, so some stuff will be specific to Jolly Old Blighty, but there will be plenty for Abroadfolk to enjoy too. (By the way, we’re sorry about Brexit)(and Boris)(we’re not sorry about Marmite – Marmite’s great).
For that matter, we’re not just for freelancers. Much of what we’ll talk about will help anyone who’s currently socially distancing.
So, join us. Let us know what you’d like more information about. We’ll get through this together.