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Wednesday Wisdom – Learnings from Lockdown

The harsh reality about co-habiting with Covid-19 is the need to accept that there is no known timeline as to when we can expect the current global pandemic to come to an end.

What we do know however, is that it is probably here to stay for quite a while longer – and not a great deal will return to ‘normal’ any time soon.

Whilst most have adjusted, pivoted, altered their means of working, become accustomed to the never-ending use of sanitiser, wearing of masks and more; we have only recently entered the newest phase of this situation: that of learning how to continue to live fully and thrive during a time of perpetual crisis.

Whether one envisaged a lengthy pandemic or not, the point is that embracing it as a semi-permanent state of affairs is required.  No amount of the use of the ludicrous terminology ‘the new normal’ will suffice.  What is happening is not normal, and never will be.

Therein lies the challenge – the recognition that the abnormality of our situation not only requires an alteration of how we continue with what is practically demanded of each day, but also to adjust our methodology in maintaining recognition of achievement, success and personal happiness.

In the past 10 days I have had numerous conversations with clients, colleagues and friends during which the reference to feeling trapped, confined, lonely, isolated, exhausted, bored, frustrated due to a feeling of relentlessness, have all been made.  These are difficult feelings to manage, let alone when having to do so in the presence of fear, anxiety and or depression due to the loss of a loved one, retrenchment and or financial stress.

During these times, the most helpful way in which to find a continued sense of being alive, moving forward and personal satisfaction is to ensure that there is alignment between how we are living currently and what we do, with the means via which we assess and measure our actions.

There is absolutely no benefit in attempting to uphold a pre-pandemic pace with regard to meeting deadlines for example, or achieving the original targeted business growth for 2020, when the entire environment and means in and via which things are done, have changed.  To do so will be frustrating at best, ruinous to one’s sense of self at worst.

Here are a few of the helpful ‘tools of acceptance’ gathered and learned since it became clear (in South Africa at least) that our lockdown levels will not be steadily reduced in the time frames one had hoped they would a few months back:

  1. There is no merit in comparing how things are right now, with how they were pre-Covid-19. Work, travel, social life etc. will revert in time, but for now one is required to operate within the confines of what is, without comparisons.
  2. One benefits greatly from taking charge of each day; one day at a time. Focusing on tomorrow or the future – ‘when things go back to normal’ – is somewhat pointless.
  3. It helps to accept that the extra demand on our time and energy is burdensome and tiring. The fatigue induced by social isolation, constantly being online and trying to juggle professional and personal lives accordingly is real.  Self-preservation can be found in adjusting the outputs required each day.
  4. Setting aside time to care for one’s self is vital. Just 20 minutes of personal pause will do it, with no multi-tasking and or distraction allowed in that time.
  5. A new appreciation for life and energy can be found in celebrating the ‘little things’. A sunny day; a delicious cup of coffee; a walk in nature or a good Netflix movie shared with someone you love, are all examples of simple everyday activities that have the ability to re-energise when consciously celebrated.
  6. Along with (5) above is the usefulness of engaging in the practice of gratitude. This is a well-recognised technique used to rediscover the positive.  Starting or ending each day with the conscious recognition of three things for which you are grateful puts an entirely more upbeat tone on things.
  7. Unlike those who have recommended that this may be a ‘good time’ to study further, engage in more training etc., I do not recommend taking on any kind of extra workload; not unless there is a burning passion to do so. This is absolutely not the time to add to the daily grind.  It is however, an appropriate time to reconnect with a hobby, an interest and or a pleasant activity previously put on hold in the busyness of life.
  8. And then there are those ‘bad days’. When it all feels overwhelming.  Everyone is entitled to a bad day and to seek solace in the fact that it is okay to not be okay.  Sharing this with a confidant often helps, as does taking the day off and starting again tomorrow.  There is no upside to pretending things are okay, when they are not.  There is also no prize for pushing through when what is needed is a day to ‘blob’ while putting the pieces back together.

Although the much-recommended investment in healthy eating, getting enough rest and limiting exposure to the constant barrage of information provided by the media are also important, the only true way in which to avoid putting feeling alive and living fully ‘on hold’ during this time is to embrace a change in mindset.

A new situation requires new rules and new yardsticks of measurement.

As our daily actions have had to shift, so too must the way in which we view ourselves in the process.


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