This week marks one year since the first lockdown measures were put in place in the UK. My hope is that by now most people have found a way to cope with the stress brought on by the pandemic and its consequences on our social life.
I personally find myself lucky to have had ways to mitigate my worries on a daily basis, and I thought I would share them as I believe that these mechanisms help not only during pandemic times but also in any challenging situation in life.
I have a big family scattered across 3 continents and a few cousins came up with an online family talk show called “À Table” (which I think can translate to “Time to eat”). On each family member’s birthday, we organise a Zoom call and we grill the birthday person with many questions that they have to answer, the aim being to know them better. We then follow up with a debate (called the dancefloor) stemming from the interviewee’s answers and it can last a whole night. The talk show, which started at the end of March last year, has been a tremendous success and has been a way to sync with the whole family once a week on average. In times of reduced social life, this has been the panacea, especially for those living on their own. Opportunities to bond with family in a healthy way also augments your sense of identity, an important awareness to have particularly when your professional or financial safety nets are suddenly shattered.
The power of giving is far too understated in our Western societies, and yet giving is in my view the single most rewarding gesture in life. I cannot say I have given or helped enough over the past 12 months, but I have tried to do my little bit, in the form of sewing protective masks in traditional African wax fabric and donating them to family and friends. It was a way for me to contribute to the “war effort”. Although I wasn’t able to do this activity long enough, I was quite happy to have helped.
During these months when I didn’t manage to secure a contract, taking on new skills was a very powerful mental boost. I acquired Java skills so I could better understand the work of my developers. I also got Scrum Master certified and MSP certified, resting assured it will eventually bear fruit despite a depressive and depressing job market.
Helping people to upskill is also a magnificent “inner elevator”. If you have a skill, teaching other people that skill makes you grow as an individual. In my case it was teaching English and French a few hours a week.
Building a business
The free time that was forced on me by the pandemic meant that I had the chance to revisit a precious business venture of mine, my Chimmer app, which helps people to set and reach their life goals. Every business owner knows that entrepreneurship is a school of life. It felt really fulfilling to focus my energy on something positive, that I know can help a lot of people, while navigating the complexities of entrepreneurship and learning every single day from it about the business, about the market, and about myself as an entrepreneur.
Every day at the end of the day, just saying “Thank You” out loud heightens your mood and warms your heart. “Thank you for the health, thank you for the roof, thank you for the food, thank you for your love” has been my most chanted one just before closing my eyes to recharge for a new day.
For a lot of people these dire times have had a way to make us return back to what is essential in our lives, and it often comes down to our health, physical and mental, the people we love, and our passions, the things we simply love doing.
I certainly intend to continue these activities for as long as I can in post pandemic times, as I firmly believe that they are to be embedded in our new way of life if we want to improve the way things are in our complicated world.
If you also managed to find a routine or activity that you believe made a difference in your way of tackling the pandemic, I would love to hear from you in the comments, as I am certain that the tales of all these tips and tricks can benefit a lot of people. It could be a sport activity, a cooking routine or a TV show that helped you maintain a certain level of positivity amid the pandemic noise.
In the same way, I am particularly touched by the resilience kids have had to demonstrate all these months in the face of dramatic events very difficult to process at their very young age. If as a parent you have anecdotes of how your kids have inspired you during this pandemic, please do share your story as well.