The things that I spoke of rely mainly on life being relatively normal, and at that point I had no idea that our whole view on what normal is would change so dramatically, and that life would take such a dramatic turn.
Then along came COVID-19 and the massive changes to daily life that it brought with it. Things that we have taken for granted, not even thought about and recognised as activities, things that happen on reflex, muscle memory, suddenly things we have to think about.
Timing a supermarket trip so that the queue to get in won’t be too long. Not being able to pop out for coffee and cake. For some not going to work, not working, or substantial change to how and where you work.
For me, until now, I have been lucky. My base location for work changed, but it moved closer, so if anything it was more convenient. I now have the ability to work from home, with all of the necessary software and access sorted. On my phone I have an app which connects to my email and calendar. (I know I know not ground breaking but cutting edge for my organisation).
The way many of my colleagues are working has changed beyond belief, they are working in different locations, delivering emergency versions of their services, some delivering telephone consultations, some doing video consultations. Sites having their purposes changed, and people carrying out roles that are not their own.
My role has changed dramatically, and there is a lot of information floating around. many questions, many predictions and stats. An ever changing position, that no one is quite sure what will happen and when.
So all of the things that I used to do to keep myself grounded have changed. My main method used to be walking. Going for a walk, taking time to think, reflect, plan my day and change my thoughts. On those walks I used to take photographs and post across my social media.
I still keep hold of that, but now I walk in a morning, when it is quiet, on my way to work. Luckily there is a beach I can walk on, listen to the waves, watch the birds, admire the architecture, the pier, the headland, the ever changing sky.
So I have some normality but all else has changed. Mornings I have worked from a different office, afternoons I have been working from home. From Monday that changes and I will work from home for the foreseeable future.
In the evenings I have started working out. My workout schedule includes five workouts for weekdays, supplemented by a run and a yoga session at the weekend. My eating habits have changed. My alcohol consumption put in check.
This gives me something to look forward to, something regular and within my control. Not only that but it is good for me, physically and mentally. Doing exercise forces me to focus on what I am doing and clear my head of all else.
I haven’t always been a positive person, I have had many challenges in life and these have changed my outlook. But I still get challenges, anxiety, self doubt, imposter syndrome etc.
However my attitude is now more positive, I changed my perspective. I am not going to do the whole glass half empty/half full thing, I find it a bit trite if I’m honest.
- I do believe that there is beauty everywhere, but sometimes you need to search harder to find it.
- Everything happens for a reason, we just don’t always know what it is.
- Things that happen to or around us either build us up or knock us down. But it is how we choose to react that determines which.
These are strange times that we are in, a lot of our support and coping mechanisms may not be availble to us, we can’t go to gyms, cafes, pubs, visit friends, get a hug from those who don’t live with us. If we are not going to work, working from home or not working our routines are disrupted, our incomes reduced or non existent, our worries increased.
We need to find new ways around this, no hugs but facetime, whatsapp, zoom, skype etc. Online pub quizzes, structuring our day differently, doing bodyweight exercise routines, running, cobbling together bits of old exercise equipment.
Making new routines, finding ways to add new ways of distracting and grounding ourselves into our day. A lot of people are learning new skills, revisiting old hobbies, volunteering, making items like visors, masks and scrubs for local carers and NHS Staff.
It could even be as simple as standing in your street one evening a week and clapping for carers. A conversation with the person operating the checkout or marshalling the queue at the supermarket.
Whatever it is, please try to find your way.
Also (and equally as importantly) check in on friends and family, have a chat, drop a text, send a joke, make a call. However you do it, let people know they are in your thoughts, it can mean a lot.
Normally in a blog I end on a question, to let you go away and think, maybe to challenge a perception. Not this one. I will leave you with a statement.
Stay safe, stay well. Find a way to be resilient and find your new normal.