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Life After Covid

Life after Covid

This week I was working on leadership and change with business leaders zooming in from over 20 countries. One of the most mentioned topics was how COVID has changed us all, and how it will continue to change the way we work, rest and play.

We talked about the change in how we use the internet, home schooling, working from home, the Joe Wicks only-for-a-week club, our new fascination with baking, online shopping, cashless wallets and how going to the supermarket is now considered a good night out.

We have seen changes in the way people meet and couples date. There’s been a huge rise in virtual dates, and what to do on a “virtual date” is a top trending search on internet.

We have seen an explosion of people swiping on dating apps, as there is no chance of you bumping into your ideal partner physically, unless it’s the delivery person or a Royal Mail driver.

We have had watched zen-like football that is no fun, especially for the Geordie fans in our lives.

Face masks are now the new condoms.

We are eating more junk food, drinking more alcohol, freezing our beans off standing in coffee queues, using less deodorant and shampoo, returning to our pyjamas after showers in the morning and then going on business zoom calls.

No, I am not wearing mine right now, but I am sitting here unshaven with a 1970s wild hair style that needs a cutting.

I simply love the lady who captured lockdown best by making her wedding dress from loo rolls.

In my business meetings this week I have talked to Saul. He said to me:

“I simply cannot wait. I just need to get out.

Pub, restaurant, holiday, divorce, new house, get my head sorted. 

That’s the priority list post lockdown.”

I am sure there was some bravado in Saul’s statements and for many of us the gradual easing of lockdown brings opportunities – to see friends, play sports, resume contact with family in ‘real space’. But for some – even the happy ones – the much anticipated promised freedom can be difficult for our mental health.

Right through this pandemic 74%  – yes 74% – of people I have worked with have told me COVID had affected their mental health. 33% have told me of relationship problems: 41% have told me they are struggling with their kids; while 30% of them judge themselves harshly for not being positive enough.

What’s scary is these are numbers from people who I am coaching on leadership, change, mindset. I am sure it must be much worse for those who see people primarily for mental health problems.

As well as mental challenges, my research from over 10,000 people is that 46% of people have some anxiousness about coming out of lockdown. A part from the economic worries some of their concerns are:

  • What will I do if a stranger leans over us to reach an item in a shop?
  • Will shaking someone’s hand or a friendly hug be safe?
  • Will I need hand sanitising after touching a table in a pub?

Tina said to me:

The thought of being back amongst crowds makes me anxious,”

So what can we do about it? Every time we go back to something it is going to feel unusual or even scary. We might feel nervous or anxious. That may be because we haven’t done it in a while and we’ve forgotten how it feels – like going to work has felt for some people.

It’s important to acknowledge that these feelings are reasonable, and to expect them. It’s only by building up tolerance gently that we can move through these fears.

We cannot re-write the chapters of history already past, but we can learn from them, evolve and adapt.

I was in to see grandad Bobby this morning. He is in his 80s, in isolation with prostate cancer. Visiting him even at a self-distanced appointment is akin to a prison visit. Despite having had almost no visitors in nearly a year, precious little interaction with the outside world and a tsunami of toxic disinfectant and medicines accompanying his every move, he was in extraordinarily buoyant form.

I wouldn’t describe it as blitz spirit, but his stoic pragmatism and sense of humour was so contrary to some of the anxiety and stress I encounter from far more robust younger and healthier individuals. He is a poster child for fortitude and pluck.

And I turned to Bob’s rules for dealing with setbacks:

“Control what can be controlled. Pace yourself. Stay calm. Build up tolerance. Vary your routines.”

Remember these rules this week because you can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one. Remember that within you there is so much unleashed capability.

I know there will be so many opportunities ahead for you but only if you are prepared to let go of the comfort blanket and go for it.

Clinically speaking, I find that what stops many people is their pessimistic sense of their own capabilities, and their despondent lack of energy and motivation.

The truth is, unless we let go the past and remember that bravery is not the lack of fear but our ability to move forward in spite of that fear, everything we want is on the other side of fear.

We have to keep moving forward, opening new doors, doing new things.

Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go that makes us strong.

You can’t reach what’s in front of you until you let go of what’s behind you. So let’s stop focusing on what happened and start focusing on what’s going to move you forward.

You don’t have to have it all figured out to move forward. Just take the next step.

I can take you to success. I coach ordinary people every day to do extra-ordinary things. I coach extra-ordinary people to do extra-ordinary things. The difference is those who have a dream, and are prepared to follow said dream, are extraordinary, and just need a structure and support system to kick off that journey, which will finish with them sliding in fast sideways to the grave, totally worn out from the relentless living of their dreams, screaming out loudly “Wow holy sh*t, what a ride!”

If that is you – start today! If you are looking for coaching on change for yourself or your organisation, or would like more information on the work we do on Personal, Professional, or Organisational Change, please contact us on letstalk@mauriceduffy.com

About Dr Maurice Duffy

Irish. Author, Professor, Coach and Business strategist. The person Australian Captain Steve Smith credited with helping him back from his cricket ban. Coach to two Ashes wins. Coach to CEOs, Politicians and some of the best know international sports starts including Olympians. BBC ‘Thought for the Week’. Coached business leaders and organizations in 80 countries. Works with charities to do with Mental Health. Lives in North East England with his wife and 11-year-old son.