‘Stay home, saves lives’ the government instructed. So, as a diligent citizen I did.
Like many in the built environment my career has been forged on building relationships, meeting people, attending events and networking. A working life full of teams, clients, consultants and contractors of all ages and all working together towards a common goal. I am now self-employed and work from my home office in the garden, but my world is still about meeting people and networking.
The uncertainty of these unprecedented times and imminent isolation created real internal anxiety for me. This translated into a lack of concentration, not sleeping well, and walking listlessly around the house: I felt adrift. Does this sound familiar? These initial behaviours are the classic neurological response to ‘threat’, a feeling of being overwhelmed with minimal creative thinking available.
It was purely a reaction to the idea of being alone and feeling vulnerable. The reality: I was safe at home with an extremely low risk of contracting Covid 19. Having logically assessed the situation, anxiety dwindled, and I began to enjoy the ‘freedom’ that isolation gave me.
I am aware that everyone’s Covid 19 experience is different. Influencing factors vary enormously. I am an architect and a qualified business coach with an interested in how the ‘other than conscious’ mind controls how we response to our environment. My response is personal to me but we all have similar unnerving reactions to the same situation of because the coronavirus lock down is a new experience and our brains don’t have a similar memory from which to draw a viable solution, therefore a threat is detected
Talking to other professional friends I began to consider whether our generational tribe and characteristics have an influence on our reactions to the lockdown? As a baby boomer I confess to having a huge reserve of post-World War II optimism. Does this account for my positive attitude towards the isolation? Many of my generation gain their self-worth directly from their professional achievements. Has confidence been removed from those on furlough or those still putting in a hard day’s work but doing so with less visibility to their line managers and peer group? Or has this given them the opportunity to find self-respect and pride in other ways?
How will we response to the end of lockdown? I have no illusions. It will most definitely be different. But how different and how will it affect ‘me’ is unclear at the moment? Does this ambiguity of the future create more anxiety? Yes, however as the eternal optimist I’m looking forward to my glass being half full of wine and already beginning to think of the opportunities for positive change that lies ahead. I’m writing a journal of thoughts about what I like about the lock down, what I want to retain after we return to a ‘new norm’. I’m also logging things I don’t like in the lockdown, and habitual things from the normal days which I would like to discard and leave behind. This is not just about my work environment but also how I process challenges and outcomes I have encountered, embracing the introvert in my normal extroverted personality.
As an extrovert I did think this would have a fundamental negative effect on my mental adaptation to being alone, but it hasn’t. Once the anxiety had subsided (about 4 days) I could be more creative in my thought process. Social websites, such as Zoom, have provided the conduit for communication to backfill the void created by social distancing providing extroverts with the necessary social interaction needed for exchange of ideas, a relationship lifeline for isolation
I take comfort that all my colleagues and professional contacts, are all in lockdown, physically apart but communally finding a solution to make it work. I feel consolation in knowing we are all in it together… and it’s OK being alone too.
Over the last few weeks I have spoken with several professional contacts, especially Amanda Armitage my friend and former coachee, about their lock down experiences. For a Millennial perspective, I recommend Amanda’s blog (link:The Path to Paradise).