Are you feeling a bit on edge with social distancing, quarantine, isolation….. ? Or have you settled comfortably into cocooning at home, working from home, being a friend, family,… from home?
I am certainly finding that my level of adjustment to the new normal is going in waves. The first week of measures taking hold here we had plenty of work and family requirements keeping me very busy, so I was adequately distracted from taking in the full measure of things. The second week, it felt like I had settled well into this, getting some things done that had been ages in the not-really-making until then, and pleased we had not threatened to kill each other yet. This week the doldrums seems to have set in and I am definitely feeling the toll on my mood, with the magnitude of additional measures and the effects on the economy getting to me more, and more testiness developing with four people under one roof all day who are used to each one of us leading our own lives, outside of home during the day. I find my fuse is shorter than it has been in quite a while and the peace I felt the week before feels further away than I would like it to be. My resilience is definitely taking a bit of a work-out these days.
There are plenty of articles, posts, etc… on helpful ‘things to do’ to take do self-management and take care of your mental health in this situation going round at the moment, but I am finding things like meditating a challenge with two pre-schoolers at home all day. I have managed to get my exercise routine in and one of the kids joins me in front of our Wii for that, but even easy things like sitting in the garden are proving harder to fit into the routine of child minding and working at the same time, in the same house, than ‘they should be’. But maybe that is the point.
What ‘should’ we be doing for our mental health and resilience nowadays and what not? We have given up on limiting television time for the kids as much as we normally do in order to be able to get some work done while the children are entertained by something or someone other than us. I tell my guilty conscience it is CBeebies and then it skulks away… That is definitely part of my self-management, and improves my resilience immediately.
But getting back to this idea of ‘should’ and ‘could’ and ‘would’.
- How are you doing with that in these unusual and sometimes testing times?
- Are you enjoying the return to more time with the family or jarring at the enforced nature of it?
With the aim of continuing to improve my peace of mind and self-satisfaction, my goal is to proceed along the lines of the children TV strategy and give myself a break. After all, these are not regular circumstances.
How do we cut down on screen time in a time when screens are the only medium via which to communicate with our friends, family, colleagues, customers, bosses, teams…? The only means to have much needed closeness with other people? How do we stay away from social media, when that is one way to support each other, the businesses we love that are suffering, and see instances of great things being done in people helping each other around the world? I am a firm believer in watching the news, but when one of our news shows took it upon itself to adopt, as their positive news of the day, a report teeming in Schadenfreude about how much worse others were handling the pandemic, my need for seeing the greatness people are capable of was definitely not adequately met. I turn to social media for this, and focus on the amazing people working in the health sector, in the supermarkets, the restaurant we love offering free food to people who need it, the gratitude for those who are getting us through this.
And in this foray through my online sources, during my certainly way too long screen time, I was looking into some of the psychology bulletins I get regularly, and found some interesting articles on researchers having already started tracking the effects of the pandemics in different countries around the world, ranging from the effects of social distancing on our mental health, self-management and resilience, a more differentiated view the effects of media usage on our mental health – now that it is our only way to stay in touch with colleagues, teams, family and friends – as well as investigating what types of arguments are more likely to influence people to abide by the guidelines given to slow the spread or the corona virus.
One effort I found particularly interesting is that of social epidemiologist Daisy Fancourt in the UK, looking at how current measures are affecting the mental health of people living in the UK on a weekly basis, checking in on them with a survey, once they have signed up. Anyone over 18 can do so and will take part in this study which will persist for the duration of the social distancing measures in Great Britain. Isolation has already been shown to negatively affect people’s mental health, but with this pandemic providing a unique opportunity to scientifically assess the effects of such a large swathe of society taking part in physical separation measures, the results are sure to be interesting. The team conducting the research aims to find out how people can protect their mental health in such, and also in less unusual times, which I look forward to implementing with my customers in business coaching and training to improve resilience and self-management in their daily lives.
I look forward to the positive impact this work will have on people, and as I prepare to do more of what worked for my resilience before – enjoying any fresh air I can get, focusing on positive inputs and playing more piano – I am hopeful that this experience will help ban ‘shoulda, coulda, wouldas’ from this world. After all, as a colleague of mine recently posted:
- It’s ok if you haven’t got a perfectly structured routine working from home yet,
- if you are not raising little Einsteins in home schooling yet,
- if you have not switched your entire business to go digital yet,
- and if you are not perfectly happy with the situation as it is yet.
We are all human.
There are many like us out there, and we are just trying to get along, making the best of what we have. Part of that are strange times and part of that are great times, all of which will benefit us along the way.
If you need any help focusing on what is important to you as a leader in terms of your resilience and self-management, or that of your teams, or want to look at the benefits of meditating to leadership, you’ll find the articles attached above, or you can contact me to see what in terms of business coaching or business training will suit you best.