Friday, 18 June 2021 14:33

Lessons to be learned

I can see the winds of change, at last. There is something remarkable about what we have been through in this past year. More than twelve months of something that none of us thought would last more than a month!  Words were introduced into our vocabulary, some new, some in new contexts. Words like “Covid”, “lockdown”, “bubbles”, “ social distancing”, “R rates”,  “furlough”       “travel corridors,” “lateral flow kits”, “ tiers” and now “Hybrid Working”. Our photographs featured a whole new look as smiles, albeit few and far between, were concealed behind face masks. Landmarks everywhere had additional adornments of yellow and black health and safety tape to keep us away, and/or markers on the floor reminding us to keep a distance of 2 metres apart. And all of this our brains assimilated into a new norm.

That well known change curve of emotions that Elizabeth Kubler Ross identified is so apt for our Covid Roller Coaster experience. The denial at the beginning that this was happening. We told ourselves that in 3 weeks or so the restrictions would be lifted. We went through anger and frustration as the lockdown restrictions became tighter, and even amid the soaring deaths there was talk of conspiracy theories, 5G theories, an over reaction by the government, blame and more blame. Until we fell into a low point as we understood that the winter would bring a second wave, tighter restrictions, more deaths, job losses, uncertainty and fear. And then, the vaccine bringing with it hope that we can live with Covid as we move forwards, planning to see loved ones, returning to new ways of working flexibly, blending virtual with return to offices, travelling and holidays becoming possible and economies resurging.

I wonder what would have been different if we had known a year ago, that a year later, we would be in a total lockdown? And I wonder in a year hence how much we will remember and what the lessons will be for us as a human race?

As a coach I honestly believe that we are creative, whole and resourceful. During the pandemic I have been privileged to work with a fantastic team of coaches providing Resilience and Wellbeing Coaching to NHS Primary Care staff. As I listened to the impact that this pandemic has had on peoples believes and their mental and physical health, I am struck by three things.

  • Our capacity to be compassionate. To put someone else’s wellbeing before our own. We all wash our hands, wear face masks, social distance, to protect others. We have been amazing at our capacity for looking after each other selflessly. Now though many are feeling compassion fatigue. We need to remind those key workers, and all of us really, that It’s ok to be a little selfish and to take care of ourselves first so that we can be there for others.
  • Our Hope. A belief that we will get through this. That good will come out of tragedy. As humans meaning making is what helps us to move forwards. As Maya Angelo, a wonderful woman, writer and speaker, where there are clouds there are always rainbows. We just need to look for those rainbows.
  • Our resilience. How we can adjust the way that we think and live in order to survive and then to thrive. We all have unconscious coping strategies. At the beginning of the pandemic, many of us turned to walking, running, mindfulness, healthy eating and new hobbies. Some people are now finding that they need more, something additional. A common realisation is a need to slow down, not fill every working space with stuff. A need to nurture to balance a sense of depletion.

We still have a long way to go and along the way there will be many lessons. We need to pay heed to these, to create the space in ourselves to be present, to notice. The winds will keep on blowing, we will stay agile. Interesting times indeed.