“Love each other as I have loved you”
Never before in history has something invisible brought the whole world together. It’s incredible to see the impact that ‘virus disruption’ has had on the whole world in record time, dwarfing the impact of ‘digital disruption’. Wherever you are in the world, everybody has been impacted in some way, and will continue to be for some while. We are living and working through a history chapter which future generations will study to understand the causes, the impact and the aftermath. History does tend to repeat itself, and when we look at other disruptive cycles, we see that those who can ride the storm, emerge on the other side of the adversity in a more resilient and solid form. On the other side of adversity is growth.
Once the Covid-19 is under control in the western world, as it now seems to be in China, and life resumes to some form of normality, life will not be the same as it was before. And, in truth, we don’t want it to be.
Many of our human practices have been taking more than putting back, and these unsustainable practices have had an impact. This is a huge opportunity to reset and restart once we have recovered.
On a personal level, there is much about this situation that I hate.
I hate the fact that we have had to postpone our Wellbeing @ Work Singapore event after so much work. I hate that every other event and experience has also been cancelled. I hate that I can’t shake hands, hug or kiss another person without fear of getting a virus that could kill me, or kill someone close to me. I hate that I have to stay at home. Yes, there are huge benefits to working from home. I do that regularly, but there’s a big difference between choosing to work at home and ‘having to’ which doesn’t fit comfortably to a person who has been fortunate to have lived in a free world. I hate the fact that the supermarket shelves are devoid of products and that the isles are empty of people. I hate the fact that my elderly parents in the UK can’t see their grandchildren perhaps for four months, and that my friends who run great small businesses are really struggling to survive.
How did this happen? Why did this happen? And what we can learn to prevent this happening again?
In many ways, I feel that we are living in the middle of a Hollywood Movie where at the stroke of a pen, all of the city centres around the world go dark. This is what we’re experiencing in real-time as restaurants, bars, shopping centres, gyms, cinemas and all of the institutions that support our modern lives shut their doors. In the movies, this is the point where one of the Marvel heroes comes to the rescue and I live in hope that this is going to happen as every Hollywood movie, as we know, always has a happy ending.
In this ‘real-life’ movie, we are all the individual heroes as we get to decide how the story plays out. The dark side of the ‘Virus Disruption’ is obvious to everyone, but the lighter side may not be as obvious. After the recent bush fire crisis in Australia, environmentalists stood on the pavements waving banners that said: ‘Stop Climate Change’. What they wanted was an end to all of the polluters that come from the modern lifestyles we live. It’s amazing how quickly the ‘virus disruption’ has slowed these things down. The bright side of this challenging period is that it has allowed us to stop, take a breath, reset and hopefully restart in a more sustainable direction.
This is the point in time to say enough. Enough is enough. Much of the stuff that we have accumulated in the ‘first world’, we don’t need. The unhealthy habits that have created bloated bodies and cloudy minds aren’t sustainable. The industries that have put short-term economics way ahead of human health need to evolve their offerings, be more authentic in their advertising and create solutions that customers clearly want but are also good for the planet. Everything is interconnected and by looking at the whole picture, we see that whenever there is an action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, and one of those reactions is Covid-19 that is taking up so much energy.
In summary, there are three big issues to tackle, and they have to be tackled as a collective as we can’t do this alone:
- Preventing the spread of the virus and the lockdown approach is the current solution being followed by multiple countries around the world. China managed to contain this, we need to understand what they did and replicate their approach if we can.
- Coping with our own mental wellbeing during the lockdown, the cancellation of the social fabric of society and dealing with the isolation and loss of freedom. This is enormous.
- Supporting others with their mental wellbeing and their day-to-day needs. There’s nothing like a big dose of uncertainty to bring stress and anxiety levels up – it’s fight and flight all of the way!
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt in my life is that whilst you can’t change the events happening around you, you can change your reaction to those events. This is a very simple concept to understand, but very hard to execute. But it’s a path to true wellbeing, harmony and freedom whatever the external context.
To help you cope with the mental wellbeing challenges from the ‘virus disruption’, here are some simple coping strategies that can help you turn the negative situation into a positive:
- Accept. Focus what you can do, rather than what we can’t do. We’re in a very volatile situation, but feeling angry, frustrated and anxious isn’t going to help change things. Only when we accept the situation as it is, can we move forward.
- Self. Prioritising your own resilience and wellbeing is critical. Dial-up every aspect of the things that make you feel sustainably good as you are the lynchpin in your life. Never forget this.
- Food is a fundamental part of that. It’s a life-force energy, so eat the healthiest foods available at this time: whole, fresh, predominately organic, plant-based foods, and fermented food to support your digestive health. Avoid, dead, highly processed foods that will compromise your immunity system, and prepare by making sure you have dried goods in the cupboard and candles just in case! Being prepared is the way to avoid anxiety.
- Movement – move your body every day. If you’re confined to your home, there are lots of exercises you can do to bring movement into your day. There are some great online workouts available that can be done in the smallest of spaces.
- Sleep – maintain a healthy sleep ritual to get sufficient rest to enable your body to detox during the night and maintain resilience.
- Mindset – meditate for 20 minutes a day to help gain perspective and create a calmer internal world. When our internal worlds are calm, we can cope far better with everything that the external world throws at us.
- Finances – whilst worrying about being attacked by a virus isn’t enough, the massive disruption on day-to-day living is having a huge impact on business and personal financial wellbeing. Think of your whole life as a business and start by getting clear on expenditure.
- Costs. Whilst analysing credit card bills and bank statements may not be everyone’s favourite activity, the insights will give you the truth, and with the truth comes freedom. Armed with the ‘truth’, you can decide what to cut back on.
- Time – take control of your time, starting by taking your calendar and organising it into named chunks. I use ‘Exercise Time’, ’ Tidy Time’, ‘Family Time’, ‘Desk Time’, ‘Study Time’ and ‘Play Time’, but use whatever categories make sense to you. It’s also a time to be creative and build something if that’s what you like to do. Innovation loves constraints and we have quite a few constraints to deal with right now!
- Connections – we need social connections to survive. Connect with people via phone and video conference. Tune into the many free online events taking place, it’s a great opportunity to learn from others and gain different perspectives. Listening to uplifting music will also impact your wellbeing. I’ve been playing a lot of music, including some amazing mantras. This one, the Tara mantra was recommended by the Dalai Lama who said this could help contain the spread of this deadly epidemic. Have a listen.
- Team & community. We are not islands in the sea, and though we may feel at times like we are out at sea without clarity on the direction of travel, the truth is that we are all surrounded by people that want to help. You can tap into your local or global communities through the wonders of social media to help you feel connected to others and gain and share insights, perspective and ideas. This period of forced stopping is also an excellent time to stop and reflect on the people who have helped you and contributed to the person you are today. Take the time to express gratitude, love and kindness. A simple text message of appreciation could have an enormous impact on the mental wellbeing of another person which will create a positive ripple effect.
In summary, businesses and life have been dealing with the impact of ‘ digital disruption’ for twenty years. Over that period, life has changed dramatically for all of us. Having worked and lived through the digital disruption’, I’ve become very used to dealing with change, transformation and uncertainty in life and business. This ‘virus disruption’, though, is creating chaos and an environment of an unprecedented change to the fundamental lifestyles that we have all enjoyed. As history has taught us, if we can ride through the stormy seas, leaving behind the things that haven’t served us, we will arrive in the future in a better place. This all starts with each and every one of us taking total responsibility for our Total Mental Wellbeing and acknowledging that it’s impacted by so many things, many of which are completely within our control.
I’m here to support you, so please just reach out if you need my input. Be well.