As Lockdown lifts and our world starts to wake up (at least in the UK anyway) I’m here to help you hang onto the good stuff!
As a coach specialising in Burnout Prevention and Recovery, as well as a teacher of Yoga and Meditation, this has been a hot topic of conversation lately with both my clients and my social circle. We’ve all been saying for over a year now, how much we love the way that Lockdown has given us a taste of a simpler, more balanced life. We’ve loved having more time at home or with our families, we’ve loved having time to cook and bake and garden, we’ve loved spending time in nature, and seeing friends outdoors instead of crammed into the corner of a sticky, noisy bar.
But as Lockdown begins to ease in the UK, and we start heading toward our ‘new normal’ for the summer, the ‘old normal’ is taking hold already, and drawing us back in! We’re heading back to the office, work is becoming busier and more stressful, new projects are launching, recruitment drives are kicking off, and Burnout is looming.
I’ve had so many people telling me they wish they could fit in a lunchtime Yoga class but they’ve just had this meeting drop onto their calendar… or they wish they still had time to meditate every day but the phone just keeps ringing. And it’s not just work – our social lives are getting busier too. The pubs are opening, so we must go! Non-essential retail is back up and running, and there are sales on, so we have to go and spend, spend, spend! Even going back to the gym or fitness studios means the addition of a commute that wasn’t there in our Lockdown workouts.
So how do we avoid getting sucked back into bad habits the moment Lockdown lifts? How do we hang onto the positives we’ve taken from this experience, and stop ourselves heading right back onto that self-destructive path to Burnout that we were on before?
As always, it’s about balance. So I’ve thought about this, and put together my list of simple tips for hanging onto the Good Stuff as the world begins to wake up.
Take Note of the Things that have Brought you Joy
Our brains are really weird, we forget stuff so quickly. We can say over and over to ourselves; I’m never going to forget this. I’m never going to take this for granted again. I’m definitely going to remember how good this made me feel. But if we don’t write that shit down, something shiny and distracting comes along, and our brain switches tact. It makes excuses, rewrites the script, and suddenly we can’t remember why we ever wanted to make time for that thing in the first place. Working late and drinking in the office seems a much more reasonable use of my time!
So take note of it. Write it down! Write down all of the things that you want to keep in your life. Stick it on a post-it note, or a white board, or in your planner, or set an alarm in your calender, or whatever you use to keep yourself on track. Because your brain can and will turn against you!
Schedule time for this stuff in Advance
Find yourself running out of time in your day for the things you know would make you feel better? Find your calendar booking up with meetings that could probably be five minute phone calls? Here’s my tip – use that calendar to your advantage! Schedule in time for your walks, your yoga classes, your meditation sessions, your coffee breaks, your baking time, your trashy TV shows! Book it in. Block it out.
And keep that appointment! Do not let yourself get sucked into old habits of working late… or going down the pub to moan about working late.
Say NO to falling back into Bad Habits
Recognise in advance the things that will make you crack! If you know that after a really stressful day in the office you’re more likely to give in to peer pressure and head to the pub ‘just for one’ and then end up staggering through the door at midnight, exhausted and depressed and ready for a really bad night of sleep before your early morning alarm clock goes off… SAY NO. Get in your head before the temptation can.
SAY NO to the colleague trying to entice you with the offer of a free gin and tonic because damnit, you have gin at home if you really need it! SAY NO to scheduling meetings over lunch. SAY NO to working weekends to ‘catch up’.
Commit to something that’s going to get you home in good time; an online yoga class, or a phone call with a friend, or even just a commitment to cooking a meal for dinner from scratch. Block out your lunch break in your calendar and get away from your desk. Get out for a walk, or even just sit somewhere with headphones in and listen to your favourite podcast, or tune into your favourite meditation app. Listen you’ve survived over a year of a Global Pandemic. You can do it!
Talk About It – and hold each other Accountable
I’m going to drop a truth bomb here. Everybody feels the same! We’ve all got things we’ve loved about Lockdown, and we wish we could keep. But if we don’t talk about it, and keep talking about it, we risk slipping back into the shadows of our stressful lives and leaving all of the unlikely joy we found in this time behind. Accountability is a wonderful thing; it’s so much easier to say no, or to stick to appointments, and to remember what’s important, when we have allies. So find yourself a little group of friends who all feel the same way, and commit to helping each other stay accountable. You’ll find that it’s actually much easier to tell Susan to say no, than it is to tell yourself. But that’s what Susan’s for! She’ll keep you on track.
Support each other, talk to each other, and remember what’s really important.
You got this!