Like everyone else in the UK (and most of the rest of the world) my life was turned upside down a few weeks ago. We were being advised to work from home if we could and keep away from people as much as possible. What we now know to be social distancing. The phone calls were coming in cancelling or postponing work, and some of my clients weren’t sure whether to meet me face to face or on the phone. My landlord was emailing suggesting a rent holiday and yet for some it just seemed like business as usual. I remember trying to do my weekly shop only to find empty shelves – what was going on? Then we were officially told we had to lockdown and so I prepared to pack up my office and bring what I needed home. There was a feeling of fear and anxiety everywhere. This felt chaotic to me, and I don’t even have to deal with the experience of home-schooling children!
I started to identify the following:
- I realised that my very natural flight or fight instincts were kicking in to survive.
- My life as I knew it was under threat as was everyone else’s (which resulted in people panic buying).
- I started to recognise I was being pushed out of my comfort zone with no control.
- Routines as I knew them were having to change drastically and rapidly.
- A lot of my self-talk started with ‘What If’ which was fuel for patterns of negative thinking.
Something had to change….
At this point I noticed a lot of the decisions impacting on my business were out of my control and felt nervous about this and the impact it would have. I didn’t like seeing the selfish behaviour of people with their panic buying, I didn’t like the fact I was losing business, and I was glued to the news channel and yet did not like what I was hearing. There seemed to be chaos all around and so much was out of my control, and as human beings we do like to be in control. But I felt very alone in this – although I wasn’t. So I started to think about what was within my gift to manage and control and let that become my focus. I was surprised to find there was quite a lot:
- Managing my state of mind and being positive – this led to making simple and positive changes.
- Limiting how much media I exposed myself to – once a day.
- Keeping in touch with friends and family.
- Thinking about how I could run my business, just in a different way, or who I could help.
- I started to think about the things I enjoy but never have time for like exercise, home cooking and catching up on some reading.
The minute I chose to take control of what I could manage I started to feel more positive and confident once again. When you are in control you can cope, you have more clarity and can, therefore, make some sound decisions. I started to feel that I could look at this situation as an opportunity in so many different ways.
Now I could make the right choices…
Once you acknowledge what you are in control of, you can then make some choices about what to do in this situation. I started to speak to other people and we were all agreeing on one thing. This is the time to support people and clients with my expertise, not sell services. Businesses are not buying as they are facing cash flow difficulties. So I started to think about what decisions I could make where I could make an impact and difference, particularly as I was faced with blank pages in the diary.
- I chose to donate one day a week to coaching NHS staff – to show my appreciation.
- I am offering some very loyal clients some complimentary wellbeing sessions, as I care about the impact this situation is having on people.
- I have chosen to accept I need to learn how to use Zoom to have a better experience when communicating with people. In less than a week, I am using this daily.
- To stay connected with people, I have chosen to talk more on the phone and email less – just to see how people are doing and show I care.
- I am also preparing a plan for what my business will look like after lockdown.
- I have a set of new goals for the foreseeable future.
Now I felt so much more in control. I have a feel for what I want to achieve, and I am speaking to both familiar contacts, loyal clients, as well as some people I haven’t worked with before. The benefits to me getting to this stage have most certainly boosted my wellbeing, my mental state is more positive and I am making the right decisions at the right time and pace.
So what does that result in…?
Calm (& caring)
So once I acknowledged the chaos, and accepted what I could control, I was clear in my mind about what to do next. I had more clarity about the decisions I made about how best to use this time for however long I have it.
- Acknowledge there is no point fighting a global and national crisis.
- Accept what is within your gift to control.
- Make an effort to make positive changes.
- Take time in reaching the right decisions for you – some new goals.
- Decide to give something back and show I care.
- Take action, what steps are you going to take day by day to get closer to those goals.
And the benefits to doing any of this:-
- I am in control of my situation now and I feel content.
- I am happy to see engagements filling up in my diary.
- Learning and growing in the knowledge of video conferencing technology.
- Feel positive about attending a 2-day training course virtually.
- Feeling an enormous sense of gratitude and appreciation.
- Some excitement is building as I plan for the future.
When you are feeling at this stage and perhaps get a telephone call giving you bad news, you might find yourself back at Chaos. Recognising and acknowledge how you are feeling and start to ask yourself, what is it you can control about that situation.
It is quite possible once the lockdown is over, and we start to return to our offices, and commence life again as we did before, we might find ourselves going through this process all over again.
I would love to hear about your emotional and mental journey through this difficult time. Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org