Sandwich, Kent, UK 

I am writing this from my own home where we were put into effective ‘lockdown’ last night. My husband reluctantly closed the doors of his coffee shop exactly six years from the day he opened it – how coincidental is that? For the first time since 2005, when I started my consulting business, I have no work other than a few online coaching sessions. So, this represents the biggest shift in our daily lives ever, and the future of our businesses is uncertain. 

Social media is currently swamped with tips about how to deal with the crisis, I wonder whether most people are following them. They are not alone because information by itself does not get people to change their behaviour. We have had many examples of this in recent days. I want to explore why it is so hard for human beings to change their behaviour on such a scale, and, at such pace. And what can be done to help you create a sustainable, positive, mindset and increased resilience.

In a crisis our routine goes out of the window, which causes many of us to go into information overload along with high stress levels. It feels a bit like attention deficit disorder (ADD) as we find we can’t focus or concentrate on anything for very long. Have you felt like this over the last few days? 

From a psychological perspective, we all have our unconscious habits and routines. In fact, Duke University measured in 2006 that at least 40% of our behaviours are entirely unconscious. This means that when we are triggered by certain things we behave in a certain way. For example, every morning before I leave for work, I have toast and coffee for breakfast before catching the 6.30 am train to London. So, when I am told to stay at home, and I can’t go to the office I am rapidly thrown off course. The first thing we can all do is to recreate a feeling of stability in our lives and a structure to our day, especially now many of us are spending all day in the same place.

This situation also creates a feeling of fear in many people. We are scared of being hurt, we are scared of the economy, we are scared of not being in control, and now we are even scared of each other. What can we do differently, starting today? 

Creating a new routine

The risk when in fear mode is that we feel stuck and end up doing what we know isn’t good for us – such as spending all day eating and watching Netflix. So, in our house we have been creating a new routine. It is keeping to a similar timetable to ensure we all get enough sleep. Sleep is needed for resilience. I make sure that I do my physical exercises followed by a full day in the home office, working on priority tasks that I can do to ensure my business can survive into the future. I stop at the ‘normal’ time and then have the evening for watching Netflix, reading and so on. Start by asking yourself: ‘What is a normal day for me, even in isolation?’ This will start to recreate stability and structure. Do it consciously and feel good about it.

Thinking and Feeling Differently

Also, very important is to be aware of what you are focusing on. Our thoughts drive how we feel, which ultimately drives our behaviour and our results. Ask yourself: ‘Where is my focus right now?’ Is it on the problem of Covid-19 and fake news? Or, is it on the opportunity for innovation and doing things differently in your life and your business? 

’Where focus goes, energy flows’’

In my business, I am having daily brain-storming calls with my fellow directors to explore how to take the business online and offer value now. This helps me to feel good about the future and motivates me to take action! 

Keep a daily journal to build your own awareness of what is going on in your focus and internal conversations – much of this internal dialogue will be unconscious. It is important to build conscious awareness so you can begin to create new behaviours. Experiment incorporating ‘positive affirmations’ into your new normal day. If many times a day you are repeating some sort of ‘I can, I will’ mantra in your head you will start to shift your thoughts about what is possible for you.

“Change your thoughts. Change your life.”

If you feel yourself going into a negative state, for an immediate shift in how you feel do something physical like going for a walk or simply getting up, getting moving, standing up straight and smiling. 

Finally, we are in unprecedented times that call for as many of us as possible to keep strong and positive to make the best out of this situation. We can also use what we know to help and support others through this. I hope these ideas inspire you to start now to build a new routine in your life and to think and feel more positively about the future.

For further information

Surviving the Coronavirus Lockdown and Social Isolation is a guide to creating a new normal in a changing world. Download a copy of the ebook for free now.

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