We are no doubt, in the early stage of what is to become our new normality. I don’t for a second think that we will be locked in our homes for the rest of our lives, but I do think that we need to embrace what is happening as it will form a greater part of what we do moving forward.
I, the same as many, have realised how slow I have been in adopting the technology around me and it has taken this paradigm shift, this unforeseeable event to shift me into the digital meeting, training and managing realm. One which I have formerly embraced when communicating with family and friends around the world, but had never considered it ‘suitable’ for the work I do.
I have spoken to lots of my friends and colleagues over the past few days and each time there has been an element of disbelief at the situation. There shouldn’t be really. We are eating up our world at an incredible rate and we transfer around it without a second thought. It’s no surprise therefore that a virus can spread around the world in a matter of weeks crippling the world and bringing it to a grinding halt.
I am in a state of limbo because, like all of you, I have worked for many years towards something that I hoped would be the business that would take me to a point of retirement or at least a better work life balance however that very business seems to be in the balance. We are not by any means down and out and HERE IS WHY!
Face to face training has a real value and mental health courses have proved so they will long continue but there will be a dawning realisation that we no longer need to be in each other’s offices or on packed trains for hours on end to effectively do what we can do in our own homes or home offices. We will learn a lot from this even if that is only to sing happy birthday when we are washing our hands and that hand moisturiser is a necessity.
I have watched with an increasing sense of relief at the continuing decrease in air pollution and CO2 emissions and deep down hope that this global spring clean can continue because I truly believe that those that are casualties of this outbreak will be dwarfed by those who have improved and sustained lives by the cleanliness of the planet for future generations.
I can’t predict what the future holds but I know it looks very different, in the shorter term at least, to what I expected when I made my New Year’s resolutions.
There is no denying that this makes me feel apprehensive about the coming months and there is no getting away from the feelings of anxiousness that exist but that is a normal human reaction and more so than ever in many people’s lives, this is a real threat that we should react to appropriately.
What I suspect many of us are feeling parts of is similar to the experience of grief. This goes beyond anxiety and the ‘fear’ of something happening. It’s happened, quickly, aggressively and without any tools to deal with it. A bit like grief no?
- SHOCK & DENIAL- You will probably react to learning of the loss with numbed disbelief. I know this is going through my head at the minute.
- PAIN & GUILT- not so much for me but I guess the pain comes from the fear of not being able to provide as we have for some many years for our family
- ANGER & BARGAINING- this hasn’t played a part for me but may well do as the realisation that this is not going away quickly. My anger will come from my inability to make valued contribution or change.
- “DEPRESSION”, REFLECTION, LONELINESS- all likely in the future which is why we need to focus on Mental Health and wellbeing.
- THE UPWARD TURN- we can look forward to this and hopefully soon but it may take a while so don’t be disappointed when it doesn’t turn up when you want it to.
- RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH- this we can all help with. Positivity and creativity will allow the reconstruction and work through to move and take shape
- ACCEPTANCE & HOPE- let’s face it, no matter how bad it gets, including death of loved ones before their time, the sun comes up and we breathe life into the day. It’s ‘hope’ that allows us to move on.
Based on the above there are some things that have helped me put this into perspective and as a mental health first aid instructor I have to take my own advice;
- I am not alone. This isn’t me being singled out. It’s not ‘just my luck’ or because of some global conspiracy.
- The government will do what is in their power to keep me and my family safe. Even if that doesn’t look like what I want it to look like I won’t be allowed to starve or be made homeless. Nor will you.
- What I do makes a real difference. Staying at home and not being a part of the spread will help reduce the spread and pressure on the NHS
- I don’t know how this will end. No one does. Even the experts are only a few steps ahead of us so don’t try and guess. It may lead to disappointment and fear.
- Watching the news 24-7 won’t make this any better. Turn off news notifications. I watch the daily update at 5 or 7pm.
- Watching or listening to social media opinion may antagonise my feelings and I am likely to then spread ill feelings around too.
- Using social media is great for communicating and socialising not for spreading myth and fake news. MUTE THE NEGATIVE DOOM MONGERS.
- Understanding facts and not shying away from the truth will empower me to prepare and understand what change I can make.
- Staying healthy, getting exercise and eating as best as I can will help me cope.
- My family will get on my nerves and me theirs. This is normal. No guilt needed. Take time and space and let it pass
- I am not a teacher, I am a parent I can teach my kids through multiple means and that will keep me active too. I can’t and shouldn’t try to teach a curriculum.
- I can get exercise just don’t mix with people. Do other things I enjoy. Learn a new skill.
- Regardless of how many times I look in the fridge. Nothing new appears!
- We can communicate. Via loads of means.
- The food shops have what we need. It may take some time to get it but they have it.
- Sleep well and keep a routine. Becoming nocturnal will not make this any better
I have spent that last few years saying to myself and my wife that, if I was able to, I would spend more time with my family and try to give them more of me. I didn’t expect that to be so drastic and full on and I can’t say that I would have opted for several months of it but it’s here so I will embrace it.
The next few months won’t be easy and neither do I expect to see a great result from the balance of the year business wise but I would like to have my health and I would like my friends and family to have their health. If that happens then I’m already better off than a lot of people.
I am very positive because I can’t be anything else. I have spent months in places I would rather not be with the threat of losing my life or my normal functioning. All I often longed for during that time away was to be with my friends and family. I can do that now, not always physically, but freely and readily as and when and I’m in a safe home with resources to keep my family and I safe and healthy.
If there is anything left at the end of this then I will pick up those bits and bobs, put them back on the table and start to try and piece it together. If there isn’t then I will do as I have done before and as many have and do everyday and start again in a new landscape in a NEW NORMAL.