Slow down, give it time, keep well

By RCallaghan

I think most of us were expecting the three-week extension to UK lockdown last week. In reality, we realise that this is the best course of action, however difficult it might be. We know that by staying at home we can help to slow down the spread of this awful virus, reduce the impact on the NHS and help save lives.

It’s still ok to feel anxious, stressed or upset about the reality you find yourself in. Sadly, for those who have tragically lost friends and relatives life will never be the same again.

Good things are happening 

I’ve been reading about amazing things happening in the hospitality, leisure and retail sectors. From redeploying employees to providing care packages, food deliveries and accommodation for NHS staff, it’s so uplifting to see how everyone is pulling together to support one another at this difficult time.

I don’t know about you but I’m finding the slower pace of life quite refreshing. In normal life, we’re all in such a rush to achieve things, to get to places and expect others to do the same. In recent weeks I’ve started to notice things that usually pass me by, like the amount of birds that visit our garden.

The enforced slow down could be a blessing in disguise. Have you noticed any positive changes in your life?

Time and space to adapt

An important lesson I’ve learned through training over the years is that less is more.

I focus on a single concept that can improve performance, repeat it and encourage participants to use it. This helps to reinforce the message and increase understanding. Given time and space to take on board new information, delegates are more likely to use the tool they have learned. It helps to improve performance and makes the training more effective, delivering a greater return on investment.

On a similar note, if you’re managing or leading a team in these difficult times, try to give your people the time, space and support they need to grasp their new way of working. Perhaps you’ve noticed behavioural changes or someone who is usually vocal seems quieter. If people are struggling with new working conditions, systems or processes, show patience and offer assistance where they need it. It might take time to adapt but they will appreciate your support. 

It’s unrealistic to expect everyone to adapt at the same rate in the current climate. Time and space is what we all need.

Boost your self-awareness

As discussed in my last post, a sense of self-awareness is so important right now. Keep checking in with yourself on a regular basis and seek help from friends, family or colleagues with situations or feelings you’re finding difficult. 

I think spending this extended period of time with the people we care about will teach us a lot about ourselves; the things we all need in order to keep well. Perhaps, over time, we might all learn to take better care of ourselves and each other.

If you completed the self-reflection exercise I shared in February, now is a good time to review it and consider what you might do differently when you have the opportunity to move forward again.

Here are some other activities you might consider to ensure you, and those closest to you, keep well.

Exercise classes

We need to keep moving to keep our muscles strong and our brains alert. Now widely available online, there are plenty to choose from to suit all interests and abilities. Over time you’ll see the impact on your physical and mental wellbeing. I’ve really enjoyed joining Joe Wicks’ 20-minute PE class at 9am each morning.

Learn a new skill

Maybe you need a challenge or there’s something you’ve always wanted to improve at, like cooking, learning a language or craft. My nephew has decided to learn sign language and I’m enjoying getting stuck into reading.

Time to talk

Conversations with loved ones and members of your team let them know you are there for them. I’m not technical but find FaceTime and WhatsApp easy to use for face-to face conversations. Seeing a face makes such a difference rather that just talking on the phone. 

Celebrate special occasions

Whilst we can’t celebrate with colleagues and loved ones in person, we can still mark the special dates in our lives. Celebrate team birthdays with online singing and send an e-gift card instead of a physical one. Perhaps have a date night at home with your loved one. Make an effort to get dressed up to make it that bit more special.  

Relax and focus on you

Even with a demanding family at home you can still allow yourself time to be calm and reflect. How you do this is up to you – listen to music, take a relaxing indulgent bath, dance, meditate, do yoga, read or just be on your own.

I appreciate that not everyone will have the headspace to cope with learning a new skill right now. So choose one thing that’s right for you and consider adding it to your daily routine over the next few weeks. As you adapt and make time for the change, it will become part of your new life. 

Just like training a new performance management concept, if you want the learning to be effective, you need to give it time.

I’ll end with a word of advice – try not to put too much pressure on yourself to do any of these things. Sometimes it’s ok to just be, to appreciate your family and your surroundings. 

Now listen to those birds tweeting outside.