*By: Nikki Alderson
** This entry is in partnership with WOZA- Women in Law, South Africa, and Women in Law Initiative, Pakistan.
This entry comes with its own health warning: It isn’t about wellness. I’m not going to repeat the obvious points in a crisis about preserving wellbeing by eating & drinking healthily, getting plenty of rest & doing as much exercise as lockdown permits Instead, it is about mindset: our attitude towards adversity and how making small adjustments to our approach can make significant differences to our experiences – for the better.
So what are the 3 Rs?
I’m talking about
At the outset, it’s good to remind ourselves that whilst as many say about hard to bear challenges “This too shall pass,” we are in the midst of a global pandemic. It’s here, happening TODAY, and as such, albeit we may do so reluctantly, it serves to “be present” in it, living for NOW whilst planning for what’s next. The sooner we adjust our thinking, the better able we will become at finding effective coping strategies. I should add that there are some – many even – who are NOT coping right now; these people may be finding current events overwhelming. And of course “it’s OK not to be OK”. Completely understandable in fact given the magnitude of the crisis we face and the uncertainty created by it.
So, let me acknowledge that there are no quick fixes here. I’m simply highlighting some strategies and tools that COULD be adopted to become better able to cope – I’m talking small wins brought about through awareness and small, consistent tweaks over time.
So how can we build our resilience to make us more readily able to cope? For me, the starting point is Mindset. Are you a glass half empty or half full person? Put another way are you a worrier or a solution finder? Anxious or opportunist? Who would you rather have on your team?? If a glass half empty type, consider separating feeling from fact. Challenge yourself to turn phrases or self-talk into more positive language. In any particular scenario, be accepting of it and ask yourself “How do I want this moment to be?” When I talk about “Acceptance” I don’t mean giving up – I’m simply meaning thinking about what is and what isn’t within your control: “It’s not what life does to you that’s important but what you do with what life does to you”.
(ii) Feeling good
Likewise, consider how you can manage your own state: think what serves to make you feel good and put you in a positive frame of mind. This is different for everyone. Think about the 3 Ms: movement, music & meditation - they all have their part to play. Similarly, gratitude can also make us feel good. Think of 3 things when you wake, daily, that you are thankful for – write them in a gratitude journal. Such a lovely, positive way to set us up for the day ahead.
I’ve already mentioned the things we can and can’t control. In some cases, routine can bore people. In others, it is a way of regaining order from chaos, maintaining a sense of control. The key to devising a good routine is making a plan and sticking to it. A great way to do so is looking at how to prioritise daily tasks. It was Eisenhower who suggested isolating tasks into order of importance by sorting them according to 4 categories: “Do, Diarise, Delegate, Delete”.
(ii) Avoiding Digital Distraction
To give ourselves the best chance at sticking to our routine, be present in every task, fully in the moment, so that we make every second count. A significant part of this is to ensure that we avoid digital distraction, albeit this throws up its own challenge given how, with lockdown and working from home, we have become so reliant on online technology to maintain business and connections. More about that later. Choose responsible usage of technology – turning off email notifications to reduce the digital noise and only check emails at set times in the day. Likewise, consider removing social media apps off your devices so they are not so readily accessible and only allow yourself to log on at set points during the day. For greater peace of mind, consider avoiding news reels, particularly late at night.
In the same way as we create lines in sand around digital distraction, so too, consider creating boundaries around both work and home life to manage expectations for you and those around you. This is particularly important should you need to negotiate the sharing of home schooling/ childcare, “Me time” and boundaries for your work to manage, through positive communication, expectations around working hours and avoid the insidious creep of work into home life.
(ii) Networking & Connection
So important too, to maintain human connection – whether that be with your business/ work community or indeed with friends. Networking need not stop because we are now working from home – far from it, I’m getting bombarded daily with invitations to join online networking events. In these challenging times, think about how to positively maintain current relationships, develop new ones and most importantly, give back to others. When I talk about networking, I don’t necessarily mean in the traditional sense. Consider how to develop a commonality of interest rather than concerning yourself with the equivalent of a “sale”. And always remember the importance of connection in combatting loneliness and depression. You are not alone. We are all in this together. To that end, to whom could you reach out? How could you help?
My 3 Rs are here to strategically support you cope with the current COVID-19 lockdown. But remember, positive intentions without positive action lead to positively nothing! Down to you now then to take action.
Stay well, safe and happy. More to the point, stay home.