I know this is a reality for so many people and I could spend hours moaning about what’s happening, but instead I want to share with you how I'm dealing with it. How I still get up every day, that I put my ‘big boy pants’ on and get on with it, even though every part of me wants to just stay in bed until this is all over.
Since I started my business I’ve never, ever woken up and thought, ‘Ugh, it’s a work day’—no matter how difficult work has been.
Lockdown 3.0 has caused problems for my business, like it has for everyone else. My team and I are dealing with these issues as they arise; we’ll be fine, and hopefully stronger than before, once we reach the other side. But, on a personal level, I do find myself struggling.
It's okay to be down, to feel anxious, to feel scared.
I can see it on people's faces, no matter where I go. People look scared and anxious, which is understandable—we’re living in an uncertain world. Turn the TV on and you’ll hear about how America is pretty much at war with itself, you’ll learn that another 1000+ people have died due to coronavirus, and just how much we’re all susceptible to this silent killer. You hear about brands you’ve known from being a child going to the wall. Your children will never experience them. The news only seems to feature doom and gloom, and it's even worse on social media.
I've chosen to switch all the noise off.
I can’t escape it, as we all need to know about what’s happening in the world, but I’ll look at the news on my phone rather than via the TV, so I can choose what I consume.
I've also stopped checking the news when I first get up; instead, I’ve formed a routine, or rather my dog has. I’m woken every morning by a lick to the face, a firm paw (if he feels I've been ignoring him for too long) or his whiskers tickling my nose. The lick is the worst…he must spend time preparing it. It’s always one of those big ones that leaves a trail of saliva behind!
After receiving my morning ‘treat’ from Arrow, I jump out of bed, take him to the kitchen and let him out. When he comes back from having his morning wee, he's always dead chuffed with himself and his bum wiggle proves it. He then demands five minutes playtime. To be honest, this is one of my favourite times of the day as it’s just me and him…suddenly, the whole world around us become irrelevant.
After playtime he knows it’s routine for me to make a cup of tea for my fiancée, Emma. He follows me upstairs as I deliver it to her, then it’s Emma’s turn to fuss over Arrow. He’s too adorable, it’s difficult to resist.
We’ve decided to do both ‘Veganuary’ and ‘Dry January’; I start my working day with a fruit smoothie and porridge. Before I check my emails or do anything else, I take ten minutes to think about the day and what I need to do. I’ll then look through my emails and create two lists. One list features the jobs that absolutely have to be done, and the other lists tasks that needs completing, but which can wait if need be. It’s important I do this, as it means I get the most pressing tasks completed, then if I feel like I can’t do anymore, I don't.
I feel it’s important to listen to our bodies. If our bodies say go for a walk, have a nap or take a break we really should. It may seem a waste of time to some, but trust me, those days when I've taken the afternoon to indulge in a long walk or help my family, it’s cleared my head and I tend to have an incredibly productive evening. That, or the next day, everything just seems to come together.
Even though my team and I are working from home, I still take a lunch hour. I don't spend the time watching TV; instead, I cook Emma and I a healthy lunch (sometimes, David, Emma’s father, who's retired, joins us). We chat whilst eating it—not about much—then we go back to work.
The mental health of my staff is just as important to me. Every day I'm on a Zoom meeting with at least one of them, and each week we have a team meeting where we talk about work, but also, how we’re all doing. The lack of human interaction the lockdown has brought means it’s important to find time to talk with people outside of our own households.
I usually hold meetings with clients and other connections each day, too. Speaking to someone new helps my mental health, as I'm a guy who thrives in group settings.
I continually check in with myself during the day. I received a Fitbit for Christmas, which is one of the most useful gifts I've ever had. It tells me when I've been sat down for too long, so I get up and walk around house—I’ll carry out a task like vacuuming or emptying the bins; it will be one less thing to do in the evening and it gets me moving.
Every day I squeeze in some form of exercise, whether this is a HIIT workout at lunchtime with Emma or walking the dogs in the evening; it’s good to get my heart rate up and good for my mental health, if not to shed some of the lockdown timber I've put on.
When I'm struggling for inspiration or motivation I listen to podcasts that feature business owners who have overcome their own problems and how their businesses have thrived. I remind myself that, if they can do it, so can I.
I've recently been suffering from headaches—probably due to stress, as they’re one of the first signs I'm overworking myself. To combat these, I take a bath, dot some candles around and play some calming music. This helps to relax me and I can feel the stress slipping away.
We enjoy another fresh, healthy meal in the evening before we sit down and watch something together, typically a programme that gets you thinking. At the moment, we’re watching ‘How to get away with murder’; I highly recommended it.
Every Thursday evening is games night for me and my friends. We may play over the PlayStation, but it’s not just about that, it’s about enjoying an evening full of banter and talking the kind of rubbish you can with your friends. It’s one night of the week I really look forward to.
Emma and I build in treats during the week to always have something to look forward to, however small. This may be a lie-in on a Sunday, having a ‘fake away’, enjoying a pudding, going for a long walk with the dogs...the little things we look forward to together.
The point of this article is not just to share the banalities and intricacies of my days, but to show that it’s okay to feel anxious and scared. We all do. Create a life that you can still enjoy despite the restrictions, arrange special evenings that your household can all look forward to, spend time working on yourself or simply allocate some time for a form of escapism that you enjoy.
Being aware of the coronavirus does not mean we need to live in fear of it. We only have so many days on this planet, so make the most of each one and do something that makes you happy. So many of us were glad to put 2020 behind us, but the flipside of that is being happy to lose another year of our lives on this Earth. Don’t just wait this year out, hoping for things to improve. Make the most of now.
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