Life in Lockdown & on Furlough Leave

Life in Lockdown & on Furlough Leave

View profile for David Gilroy
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I'm very proud of all my team and know that the last three months have been REALLY hard on everyone, but for the team on Furlough Leave in particular. Here are the thoughts of three of them from our sales & marketing team.

Ella: Life in Lockdown: A Snippet

If we’re all being honest, the ups and downs of lockdown life are far too complex to summarise in just one blog post. As many of us experience our unique struggles, with every couple of weeks bringing its own new wave of emotions This experience can only be described as a journey. My own personal solitude cruise has been hit with many waves. Both swimming with positives and negatives.

The first wave, a bewildered state, to say the least, was probably the most intense. I fell into a hamster wheel of productivity, finding new interests almost daily as I suddenly found myself with an abundance of time. Inevitably, there is a contrast of emotions. All of the positivity of new learning is met with an overwhelming feeling of self-loathing every time you don’t utilise your time. After all, in these times if you’re not growing, you’re letting yourself down.

The second wave hits around the one-month mark, and unfortunately but truthfully, it is essentially all negative. All that you thought you were tolerating just for the time being suddenly seems to be indefinite. For myself, a massive part of this is social separation. Not only was I separated from friends, work and my usual environment (as I retreated to my hometown before lockdown which is three hours away from Bristol). But also, my partner who is on the Isle of Man. Suddenly you find yourself feeling blue, and productivity is the last thing on your mind. The only way to compensate for this is by connecting with nature. Spending time surrounded by wildlife allows you to enjoy your solitude and nurture your mental health. Just a little sunshine can make all of the difference.

The third and final wave hit about halfway through May – as the Government announced that furlough could be extended as long as October, it become pertinent that adjusting to the new reality was not optional. On a positive note, with this adjustment came lots of positive perspectives, focusing more on stability. Not only does this mean a stable and realistic goal plan during lockdown, but financial stability. As a 21-year-old I have never prioritised saving before, but this pandemic has taught me a back-up plan is priceless. As the Geller family say in Friends “Where does 10% of your salary go?” – “In the bank”. In terms of the negative impacts, professional anxiety only gets worse as time goes on. For me, being new to Conscious and being out of the action for so long, it leaves you feeling vulnerable and unessential as work continues without you.

Everything considered, no one knows how to master lockdown, and trying to do so will only leave you feeling worse. The best thing you can do is take each day as it comes and allow yourself to have both bad and good days.

Louise: Life in lockdown: I was letting children get away with things, but realised we were in extraordinary times.

With my partner due to return to work abroad a week before lockdown began it was just me and our two girls aged 3 and 4 during the coronavirus pandemic. At first, I had all these great ideas especially as I was furloughed from work. I would be able to spend quality time with my girls and do the things we wouldn’t normally do, I would be able to study some courses (with the £200 budget per person that Conscious supplied), I could exercise more and catch up on some spring cleaning, organising and decluttering at home. All sounds great, eh? If only things were that simple.

For the first three weeks, I thought it was fantastic, we were doing well and holding it together. Our day would normally start around 6.30am when my youngest would wake us up and it would finish around 9.00pm after battling with the bedtime routine and clearing up after dinner. I found the majority of my day was taken up by the mealtime routine, providing a constant flow of snacks and consistently tiding up. The other parts of our day were the fun stuff Zoom calls with daddy, family and friends, getting involved with Joe Wicks online exercise sessions, enjoying a teddy bears’ picnic for my youngest daughter’s birthday, drawing, painting, colouring-in, puzzles, watching Disney movies, cake making, face painting, outdoor garden games, paddling pool or heading out around our local area for a walk so the girls could play on their bikes or scooters.

But as the weeks went by my parenting skills loosened up and I allowed my girls to get away with things I normally would reprimand them for. I found myself loosening up on things like bedtime, wakeup time, mealtime, and screentime. I found the most challenging parts were coming up with ways to entertain them, food shopping and trying hard not to result in bribery in the supermarket every time we went. Trying to break up arguments and bickering, having to have eyes at the back of my head especially when they were quiet for more than five minutes, as it always resulted in them being up to no good. All of that plus the day to day running of our household, and most of all remaining sane after hearing “Mummy!” constantly on repeat.

I found myself turning to my mum-friends for support and realised I was far from alone. I was lucky enough not to have had the added pressure of homeschooling, as many of my friends did.

So, even though I didn’t achieve all I had to set out to at the start and as a full-time mum, it was intense, restrictive and harder work than actually going to work. The best parts I can take from the experience was the girls were happy, safe and I had the opportunity to spend quality time with them and watch them learn different things. My highlight was watching them learn how to ride their bikes with speed and confidence without the added worry of lots of cars on the road. Something we won’t have the luxury to experience again anytime soon.

Rich: Life in Lockdown

So, it has been a little over nine weeks I have been at home, and to begin with, it felt easy but then the "guilt" sets in. This isn't an article about getting any kind of kudos, I simply find writing is a way of relaxing me and keeping me sane! Below are my highs and lows of my seven weeks at home.


The Lows...

1. Let's start with the lows, as I always like to finish a story with something positive. First off my wife is an Acute Care Response Team (ACRT) Nurse - meaning she is right in the middle of all this sh!t and it scared the crap out of me. My main priority is to ensure she is thoroughly supported in her role. So, I became her "butler" - whatever Claire needed to get her through her next shift...I did. Favourite meals, snacks and vino - I facilitated. What I learned from this, is the small things my wife appreciated (no jokes please) she just needed her rest and comfort, no sparkly gifts or a new dress. Just support.

2. Next was work. Not being around colleagues to chat or bounce ideas off of each other, this hit home quite quickly. I get we have Zoom but lacking the real presence of another human being starts to have an effect. I missed the "How was your weekend" or "Rich fancy a coffee".  My mental health was being affected by this, so I reached out to some team members and colleagues in the sector and we didn't talk about work, we just spoke about normal stuff. The best part, I wasn't alone in feeling like this.

3. The Unknowing - yup I hate not knowing what is happening and how things plan out. We are in a position where no one really knows what is going to happen. This caused my anxiety to roller coaster over the coming weeks. I needed to overcome this and quickly. Three things helped - exercise (it really does work), talking about it and a great book “Mind Over Muscle” by Anthony Middleton.


The Highs...

1. Self-development is something I enjoy doing, from reading new books to learning something entirely new. I have learned the following:

  • How to make a three-tier cake stand (Claire's birthday and she wanted one)
  • Don't use the shortest setting to cut grass
  • Not all online courses are quite what you expect

I am not the fastest reader by any stretch, but some great books that really made an impact:

  • “Mind Over Muscle” by Anthony Middleton.
  • “Key Person of Influence” by Daniel Priestley
  • “The Hard Way” - Adapt, Survive and Win by Mark "Billy" Billingham

2. Exercise, I have recently moved to Gloucester and one thing on my list was to invest in a gym. Thankfully it is one of the smartest things I have done...since getting married. This has been my "go-to" place when things get too much. I cannot stress how much exercise has changed my approach to how I look at things. Instead of letting things build up, regular workouts allow me to focus and structure things in a way I didn't know. This is one area I will continue.

3. Writing a book, Claire and many other people have said I can talk for England so it shouldn't be too much of a problem to put it to paper. The first key step as Daniel Priestley says is "Just start". That is the key area, I have created a number of titles and setting a target of 500 words per day. If one person finds it useful, then I will be happy.

If you are struggling with any of the highs and lows above and fancy a chat, Zoom or instant message on LinkedIn. I am open to it. My 4 mantras:

  • Learn something new every day - regardless if it is work-related or not.
  • Talk if you feel low, don't let it fester. Trust me it doesn't get better by bottling it up
  • Exercise - run, walk, jump whatever your pleasure. It will clear your mind
  • Don't worry - You can't worry about a situation you can't control. All you can do is adapt to your surroundings. Easier said than done.

P.S. This blog post has been published on the day I was called back to work from Furlough Leave and it is clear we need to take stock of what others are going through, and to ensure they have the support they need.