COVID-19 Hangover Anyone?

The last few months have been bizarre in many ways. In a matter of weeks, the world was blindsided and we were forced into all sorts of working environments.

A friend said to me the other day, he is not sure if he is ‘working from home’ or ‘living in his office.’ I can certainly relate to that and more recently I have been feeling it’s effect.

And it has a name… ‘the COVID-19 Hangover’. Symptoms include: feeling shaky, uncertain, exhausted, brain fog and lethargic.

Speaking with a number of other founders and CEOs, this COVID-19 hangover sums up the general mood.

Month after month of dealing with this crisis takes a toll, even if you don’t realise it. If you do, well you’re not alone.

We still have a fair way to go and a few more hurdles to jump before this crisis is behind us. Which is why we need to acknowledge this feeling and make a plan to get back to our best selves.

So I wanted to share 4 tips on how I’m managing my hangover. Sadly, there’s no hair of the dog with this this one though…

1. Disconnect

With so much going on in the world, it feels necessary to keep up with the news and every day to day change. But it can be exhausting, so much negativity designed to depress us.

I saw this quote by Matt Haig from Reasons to Stay Alive, that felt very apt:

“THE WORLD IS increasingly designed to depress us. Happiness isn’t very good for the economy. If we were happy with what we had, why would we need more? How do you sell an anti-ageing moisturiser? You make someone worry about ageing. How do you get people to vote for a political party? You make them worry about immigration. How do you get them to buy insurance? By making them worry about everything. How do you get them to have plastic surgery? By highlighting their physical flaws. How do you get them to watch a TV show? By making them worry about missing out. How do you get them to buy a new smartphone? By making them feel like they are being left behind.

To be calm becomes a kind of revolutionary act. To be happy with your own non-upgraded existence. To be comfortable with our messy, human selves, would not be good for business.”

Wow — how true is that!

Media is literally designed to depress us. I certainly never feel anymore enthused after watching the news. Which is why I limit myself to watching it or reading the paper just once a week.

Same goes for social media. It is all too easy to forget that it is a feed of people’s highlight reel, that often makes us feel pressured to want more, do more and not feel happy for what we have.

Take time off. Disconnect. Connect with your loved ones and breath in every small moment.

2. Get the fundamentals right

It might sound a little cliched but now is the time we need really need to take care of ourselves. One way we can do this is by getting our fundamentals right, both physically and mentally. Four fundamentals: sleep, nutrition, movement and mindfulness.

Mindfulness in particular has been something I have needed to invest more time and energy into. My morning routine now includes writing what I am grateful for in my Five Minute Journal, 10 minutes of meditation, 2 minutes of breathwork, writing 3 ‘morning pages’ in my journal (basically 3 pages of whatever comes up) and a walk in nature and solitude (no music or podcasts).

The benefits are unquestionable. And whilst it may seem like a lot, now is the time we need to be investing in our mental health — more than ever.

There is a Zen Proverb that I always think of when life seems to be getting too busy to take time for mindfulness. It says, “If you don’t have time to meditate for an hour everyday, you should meditate for two hours.” Ha — love it! Although a bit extreme — you get the point!

If you are new to meditation or breathwork, I would recommend starting small. Simply close your eyes for a minute or two and focus on your breath. Breathe through your nose… in for four and out for four. The benefits are instant.

3. Take time off, reflect and look ahead

We are now half way through the year and it’s the perfect time to look back at the last six months and look ahead at the next.

Our life leaves clues for us and we cannot connect the dots if we don’t look back. Integrating the lessons learnt, along with our successes and failures will allow us to build confidence, and continue to iterate and improve.

Every six months I take a day off, to completely disconnect, to pamper myself in the morning and to run through my ‘Life Plan Framework’ which you can download here. As well as reading through my journal, looking for any common themes and lessons learnt — noting what went well and what I could have done better.

You might not realise just how fried you actually are, and you may be making decisions and acting on feelings rather than your best self. And if those feelings are feelings of being drained and exhausted, your decisions are unlikely going to be good ones.

So now more than ever, we need to get clear on our best selves and the actions aligned with them. Without taking time out to reflect and build a plan, we don’t stand a fighting chance.

4. Ask for help

Finally, to say it’s ok to not be ok.

I’d strongly recommend reaching out to friends, a coach or mentor, and having a honest and open discussion about how you are feeling.

Last week I shared how I was feeling with a mastermind I am in and with my coach. It was incredibly cathartic to acknowledge it and say it aloud. There’s power in vulnerability and I soon realised many others shared similar feelings. I wasn’t alone and in many ways it felt like a weight had been lifted.

It was yet another reminder of how much strength we can draw from being vulnerable, and the power of a tribe.

Now is not the time for a stiff upper lip mentality.

We need to be gentle on ourselves. Be aware of your own feelings and emotions, and offer ourselves some compassion. The kindest thing we can do for ourselves right now is speak up and ask for help.

If no one springs to mind to speak to and you would like to speak about coaching, please do not hesitate to contact me as I will soon have more capacity for more clients.

Be kind to yourself and others. Take time to rest, reflect and reset. Let’s come back in the second half of 2020 even stronger!

Big love,

Joel

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