I wrote this blog in the early days of the lockdown. However, given the sense of overwhelm in adjusting to our dramatically changed reality, adding another blog just did not feel right. But when several people mentioned that they hadn’t heard from me, I decided to re-visit and send this adapted piece.
And this is also my way of reaching out to you to say, “Hi– How are you going?” (And please feel free to connect – I will be delighted to hear from you!!)
Here are some of my top of mind thoughts:
Physical and Mental Health
During these unprecedented time, when our world has suddenly upended, our physical and mental health has become the number one focus and taken centre stage. And so it should.
After all, it is our health and well-being, which in turn contributes to our performance and productivity and impacting the economic bottom line.
With Co-vid 19, while there is much that is beyond us, including its future trajectory, the far-reaching economic and social impact and the timing of any new vaccine, there are things we can still control.
Here are some reminders of what we can do.
1. Normalise our feelings and reactions
Yes – our world has changed dramatically in a short time. It is NORMAL that we will have a wave of different emotions and responses. From the sense of shock and disbelief of a changed reality to how do we move forward now.
As one person shared, “It all feels so surreal like I am in some Sci-Fi movie, except it is not!”
If you are feeling anxious, fearful or worried – you may wish to try calming self- talk like, “This is normal, and we are all in this together.”
One of the worst things we can do with anxiety is to fuel it further by feeling anxious about the fact that we are anxious. It can only create a downward spiral which leaves us feeling even more out of control!
Along with deep breathing, try changing your attention to doing some other activity. How about some energy into the work project you have always wanted to do, starting that organic garden or even picking up the vacuum cleaner can be good therapy!
2. Acceptance of change
As we shift into a new reality and find our way to some new norms, as things continue to evolve and change. We can’t put things back to how they were, but we can embrace what is and find positive ways of navigating this. Acceptance takes away that resistance and any sense of immobilisation.
3. Focus on all that is within your control.
As new information is received and digested on day by day, hour by hour basis, much of this is outside our control.
However, there are still things that you can control. Make a list of all that you can do. For example, you can plan your day – you can call someone when experiencing cabin fever after working from home for days, go for a walk or run, grab a coffee from the local etc.
Having a sense of control contributes to a greater feeling of self-efficacy and well-being. The resulting feeling – “I can manage this. I know what to do, and we will get through this!”
4. Working from home
It will be a new reality for many. If so, how are you finding it? What are some advantages that you have now? Focus on things that you were unable to do before. Perhaps you have more time to play with the kids, take the dog (and yourself!) for that regular work and get your wardrobe, study or other systems in order. You can paint the fence, get the bed (or even that one pot) ready for planting the autumn bulbs or make progress with the novel or project sitting on the side. But don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t.
5. Amp up the self-care
Life before Covid-19 and going to work (not home office) with its endless meetings, project and people management had left many of us struggling to find time for those necessary self-care activities. But you can attend to some of these now. Amp up that reflection and contemplation time with your morning beverage, have those more extended baths, attend to the more enjoyable home projects and many others that you did not have time for before. Deepen your relationship with time! Breathe in, breathe out…
6. In awe of nature
Like every other night, with the early setting autumn sun, I was drawing the curtains last evening but stopped short as I got sight of the fading pink and grey-blue skies with the green and copper-toned leaves of the Maple tree on the right. It took my breath away. Sitting down for a few minutes and drinking this in was the absolute best use of my time at that moment! How is nature showing up around you?
7. Self/Social Isolation
Being physically distant from others does not mean we cut off socially and emotionally from our family and friends. Quite the opposite. A sense of community, connection and belonging is a fundamental human need.
From my days of working as a clinical psychologist, I remember the patients who recovered faster from their challenges and trauma were those who were able to garner support from others. All you need is even having that one person who you know cares. It can make all the difference. So reach out…now is good.
8. We are all in this together
In the self-compassion literature, Kristen Neff mentions the place of kindness and our common humanity as a means of going gentler on ourselves, especially when we are beating ourselves up. Now, more than ever, we are all having to deal with this crisis together. Together we are united. Together (but apart!) we remain healthy and strong.
9. An SQ (Spiritual Intelligence) perspective
Allow yourself to look at things from a different lens. We can get gripped by fear, or we can adopt a more inquiring, accepting and wondering mode. Other than the noticeable negative impact on people’s lives, health, economy etc. what could be another unconsidered perspective? Humanity is undoubtedly had the reset button pressed. And the environment seems to be doing a whole lot better with fewer of us messing with it.
10. Old values but new ways
For a long time, in organisations, we have espoused values like collaboration, transparency, unity in diversity, inclusiveness, trust, teamwork and building cultures that thrive. Now we have the opportunity to live and practice this in new ways as we focus on not just ourselves but the greater good. Working from home is taking care of ourselves and our teammates, manager and company.
Which of your core values can you embrace in new ways?
11. Opportunities and silver lining
Every crisis within it has a silver lining. I have already mentioned some of the positive changes happening in nature and our cities. What else can you identify? What about at a more personal level? Have you got skills and talents which have gone underground but are needed now? Can you use your existing strengths in some new ways?
12. This too shall pass
Finally remember that while the going is tough right now, in time, things will change. What do you want to be able to say about you and your leadership through these challenging times?
In the meantime, continue to after yourself, your family, your colleagues and those others near and dear to you.
You are not alone. And yes – together we will get through this.