I know I’m not alone in finding these times strange and difficult.
The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting all elements of our lives and our businesses and has provoked a deep sense of insecurity. Many of us have suddenly found ourselves with a reduced, or paused, workload and also have had to swiftly adapt and learn new ways of communicating and working.
As an independent freelancer, I’m used to working remotely and enjoy it. But I’m missing meeting my business friends and clients face-to-face. Read more tips on staying upbeat and positive while working at home.
Now the initial panic is wearing off, it’s sensible to use this time as an opportunity to work on your business so you’re ready to hit the ground running when things eventually do return to a ‘new normal’. And, importantly, look after yourself and be kind.
Here are some things that I’ve been doing to overcome the endless sense of uncertainty and ease the often-overwhelming anxiety, while retaining a level of productivity.
Being mindful of my mindset.
It’s about recognising that it’s okay when you don’t feel so good and having some coping mechanisms up your sleeve that you know will work for you. For me, a certain amount of cosseting works a treat! I’ve been indulging in salted baths and re-reading some of my favourite fiction.
I also consciously control my intake of news about COVID-19 and have stopped watching live news, have turned off my social media and news notifications, and actively look for good or unrelated news instead. This is particularly helping me as I currently spend significant time researching and writing about COVID-19 and business-related matters.
And remember not everything online is true. Before forwarding anything on or using it to inform my thinking and decisions, I ask basic questions about where the information comes from. It’s a red flag for me if the source is ‘a friend of a friend’ or ‘my uncle’s colleague’s neighbour’. The most reliable sources of information remain public health bodies like the NHS and the World Health Organisation.
I’m more obsessed than usual on serving my (current) client needs and, of course, looking for ways to retain that business and secure new work. I ask myself if I have done enough. This feels even more pressing than usual, but I know that continually pushing will result in burnout which negatively affects both mental and physical health.
My mantra, which I adopted a few weeks back, is helping me keep this in perspective; it’s: “the economy and my business will emerge in some shape or form eventually. But our health may not, so focus on staying well and safe.”
Have a bit of fun.
While I’ve found it difficult to concentrate on learning anything new from a professional perspective, as my mind annoyingly wanders even more than usual, I’ve actually learned the basics of the card game Gin Rummy, which has been a marvellous way to relax and spend time with my loved ones.
I’m also enjoyed the benefits that nature offers, and have written about this, along with my fellow directors at Climate Action North here.
Listening to music.
This is the one thing that has remained constant. My love for music permeates everything and helps soothe any anxiety and increases my focus when working. I have it on in the background pretty much all the time.
My recommendation? The next time you feel your anxiety level cranking up, tune in to your favourite music; it has a calming effect on both mind and body.
Staying in touch.
I’ve been trying to check in regularly with those who care about the same things I do; my family, friends, colleagues and clients. Even if it’s just to say hello, check if all is okay, or share a funny or feel-good story. We all need conversation and positivity more than ever, and healthy connections contribute to overall well-being and happiness. At the end of the day, we’re all human!
Stay safe, stay well and stay in touch.