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  • Chris

Losing human

I didn't bring the best version of myself to work today. I forgot about 'human' and everything that means.

The day started well. I had a brilliant run at email and was ready and waiting for our new virtual team video call at 9.30. I'd scheduled in a bit longer as we had a lot to get through. The agenda starts with how everyone is feeling and what they are experiencing at the moment. We had a good catchup on all of our ongoing projects (yes... people are still working on great training!) and we had an honest conversation about everything that is going on and how it might impact us.

After the call, we made use of our one exercise outing from the house and went for a nice walk with our dog, Bo. We are lucky to live in an area surrounded by a nature reserve so lots of open space and no other people.

We got back, and then something triggered me. I can't even remember what it actually was - but it triggered me in a way that I wasn't prepared for. I committed the worst of school child errors and I resorted to the keyboard. It wasn't measured, it wasn't polite - in fact it wasn't even that well thought through from a grammar point of view...

I forgot about the human reading it at the other end and as much as I still have a great deal of emotion towards the organisation involved, it's not fair to vent. I'm sorry for that - but it did make me start to think about everything that's going on at the moment.

I'm overwhelmed. I'm not on my own - I know that many other people I talk too are feeling the same. The pace of change in the last few weeks has made it difficult to catch breath. Who would have thought late last year when the first cases were reported in China that we would be where we are now. Nobody imagined it. It's inconceivable. Things change through the day at such a pace that it would be difficult for anyone to keep up to date. I don't think I feel psychologically safe.

My mum is in hospital after a really serious operation and we aren't allowed to visit. Even when we were allowed in recent weeks it was one visitor a day for a maximum of 30 minutes. I'm worried about her and her mental wellbeing through all of this. I'm also worried because she is in hospital. So that's factor number one.

In addition to that I am a business owner. Running a business can be challenging at the best of times, the last three weeks have been a rollercoaster and the feeling of helplessness in making decisions is overwhelming. What do we do that is best for our people? What can we do to continue as close to business as usual? Why are these outstanding invoices not paying? Those challenges are at a different level to normal at the moment.

Then on a personal level, we've been reducing human contact over the last week, and now we are on lockdown - with more stringent measures around the corner no doubt. I go to the supermarket to buy essentials, and there's nothing left. I try and get through to the bank to have a chat about what can be paid and they have a wait upwards of 30 minutes (not a complaint... I get it!) - all adding to the feeling of overwhelming emotion.

I know I'm not unique in my experience, far from it. It does help me to write it down and I'll continue to do that as we progress through our CoVid-19 journey. As a country we are in it together so it poses the question...

What happens if we lose our 'human'?

I lost it today. I'm not proud of it and I regret it. I'm honest enough to know that it will probably happen again over the coming weeks, certainly until things start to look up. I'm trying to introduce things into my day that mitigate the risk of it happening though. Here's what I've decided to do...

Remember what I can control and what I can't

I received a great message from my good friend Kat at Everyday People and she said I could allow myself 20 minutes of focussed worrying. Then I tell myself what I can and can't control. I can take action if I need to or park the stuff that is outside my circle of influence. Great advice. I've passed it on to many people too. I'm not perfect at the 20 minute restriction just yet, but I'm working on it.

Switch off the news

The news, by it's sheer nature, is awful. It is wall to wall CoVid-19. It's high drama and for me it induces anxiety - so I'm turning it off. I'm going to dip in and out every other day to see what's new and I know that I will be made aware of anything super important anyway. Same for twitter and Facebook - I got rid of that months ago and I'm not tempted to go back.

A moment of calm everyday

I'm making a real effort to find calm in the chaos. My calm app is amazing for this. At night I listen to rain leaves, or listen a beautifully narrated story. I've got more work to do here. I'm addicted to my phone - it seems to be my whole lifeline to the old world, so I've got to take a leap of faith and turn it off regularly.

Entertainment is vital

I've found new podcasts, the BBC Sounds app has some brilliant stuff on and I've got a new found admiration for the whole cast of Radio 2. I treat myself to a bit of Piers Morgan in the morning - I'm not sure why I enjoy watching him vent at the moment - maybe I'm envious of his platform.

Getting outside

We are allowed out once a day (not managed to explain the benefits of that concept to the dog yet...) and we have been lucky with the weather so far. Gloriously sunny so owe can make the most of that power walk around the nature reserve. Fresh air does make a difference, so we will probably be doing some work in the garden over the coming weeks. We are lucky to have one so we should take advantage of it.

Virtual cuppa's

I'm making time each day to catch up with people, just like I would in the street, in the office or in a cafe. FaceTime, Teams or Zoom - whichever they have. It's good to see a face. It's been a godsend for my mum too - we get to see each other even though we can't be together. It was entirely someone else's idea and I'm stealing it!

Look to the future

This will pass. It's temporary. We will look back on our war with the virus and tell people how we stayed indoors, fought for a loaf of bread and managed to convince the dog that one walk a day was enough...

What tips do you have? What steps are you taking to stay human?

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