The days are lighter and longer. The number of people vaccinated is growing rapidly. Coronavirus cases are going down in most areas and restrictions are going to be lifting shortly. We have a renewed sense of hope! But hold on a minute… Before you rush off with new plans and direction, are you feeling prepared and in a good place mentally to move forward? Surfers are selective and only paddle for waves that are worthwhile and fit their experience category. Just imagine yourself as a surfer for a moment. Do you know how to find your next perfect wave and ride it forward?
What has the pandemic done to us?
Before we go back to surfing, let us reflect on the impact of the pandemic:
It has aged us
I was perturbed to read a recent article in The Times by John Nash that we all look five years older than we did a year ago! Apparently, the strain of the pandemic has pushed us into physical-ageing overdrive. Prolonged stress can affect our telomeres, the segments of DNA at the ends of each chromosome that become shorter every time cells divide. When they get too short, they cause cells to age and stop working. Thankfully, this can be reversed, but if you are feeling your years, it is probably your telomeres!
It has created enormous stress
Barbara Sahakian, Professor of Clinical Neuropsychology at the University of Cambridge, says:
“This has been our society’s longest sustained period of stress since the Second World War. But during wartime people got the stress-relieving benefits of mixing socially and having a strong sense of shared enterprise.”
Aspects that we haven’t enjoyed in the last year. No wonder your resilience levels may be a little low currently.
It has impacted our mental health
Most people have been grappling with changes to their mental health over the last year, even if they appear calm and in control on the surface. Underneath they are probably paddling away furiously to keep themselves on an even keel. Keeping good mental health is an ongoing struggle for many. Emotional well-being has been at risk for many people for the first time in their lives. We have all suffered basic loss of freedom and of social interaction in the last year. This has been compounded by the loss of or separation from loved ones, job loss and economic suffering for many.
It has created different behaviours
Throughout the pandemic, we’ve either experienced being holed up with family for long periods of time. Or individuals have been isolated on their own at home. Plus, there’s certainly been added stress for families who have had to deal with remote learning situations for school-aged children.
We have bought puppies, wear comfortable clothes to work in, watch streaming channels more and according to research by Unilever, don’t wash our hair or bodies so often!
But the pandemic has had positives…
Some families have enjoyed being together
However, there have been great benefits for some who have enjoyed being cooped up with their families or in their bubbles. Parents and children have benefited from spending time together and some parents have really appreciated not having to commute to their place of work and enjoyed home schooling.
A recent poll conducted by the i newspaper showed an upsurge in community spirit and family values, with seven in 10 parents saying that relationships with their children have improved.
And some have made conscious health decisions
Exercising and healthy eating are two areas of focus that many have put their energy and enthusiasm into. They have been a way to regain some control over life during the pandemic. Individuals are also spending more time outdoors whilst exercising. Or they have made other conscious lifestyle changes.
Are we ready for ‘real life’ again?
Are we ready to jump back into life as we knew it? We are told garden furniture is in short supply and warned to make reservations to sit in our favourite pub garden in April. But we can feel the excitement of ‘normality’ in the Spring sunshine and in the hopeful conversations we are having for the future (even if they are still on zoom!).
However, most of us have just been treading water in our lives over the last year. We are waiting for the restrictions to lift and ‘permission’ to exist more normally again. Some of us are thinking of how to pick up our lives again. Like a surfer waiting nervously for the right wave, so they can move forward and create the biggest ride. But it takes courage and energy to ride a wave. It is easier just to bob up and down in the shallows and ignore the waves after the mental battering some of us have endured. Certainly, dodging any big waves that might mean letting go and propelling us forward too fast.
What the pandemic has done insidiously, as most of us have worked from the safety of our homes, is to eat into our self-confidence, self-esteem and motivation. Exposing our jogging bottoms in the real world again, is quite a scary step. However, feeling fear and anxiety about release from lockdown is actually a very normal reaction.
Is my ‘new normal’ the ‘normal’ I want to stick with now?
You may want to reflect on what you want in life as the restrictions ease:
- Do I actually want to get back onto the commuting treadmill?
- Do I even like my work?
- Can I work nearer home?
- Do I want to spend more time with my family going forward?
- Have I still got a job to go back to?
- Do I want to stay working from home to avoid the office politics?
- Do I want to do something completely different in my life?
How to find and jump on the right wave for your life
Surfers need to position themselves so they catch a wave on the peak, where it initially breaks. They need to be far enough out to be able to catch the wave at this point and get the longest ride. Surfers need to paddle positively to position themselves. Too often they are tentative and end up in the wrong position.
Coming out of this pandemic is a time to review where you are in your own life at the moment and what direction you take next. Experiencing hope and gaining some control, even if it is just small steps initially, will help you form a plan that will make this transition easier and more in line with what you want to do. Then you can position yourself in the right place in the sea, find the right wave to jump onto and have the best ride of your life!
Can we help you get ready to ride your biggest and best wave?
Ok, so we have to admit sadly we are not surfing coaches. We may not know our ‘flat’ swells from our ‘half-built’ swells. But we certainly know how to coach people through change and transition and we are global experts at educating mentors and coaches to support other people.
We can help you in two ways in this exciting, but what might be slightly scary, season of renewal and reinvention and without getting your feet wet!
- Our team of experienced coaches and mentors are available to work with individuals both privately and within organisations. Supporting conversations to help you prepare and implement work and life plans for the future.
- We can work with organisations to educate their mentors and coaches to have these same conversations with people internally on their re-entry to whatever ‘normal’ life is going to look like going forwards.
Come and talk to us, we have lots of ideas and we promise to keep you dry!
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