I found myself chatting away with Mr B the other day about the up coming steps forward out of lockdown. I sense a number of feelings out there, excitement, nervousness, relief, trepidation? And for the first time, I genuinely think ever in my life, I used the word anxious to describe how I felt.
Now, I have often used words such as stressed, highly strung, frustrated, worried …. But never have I considered myself anxious? And truthfully most people consider me pretty confident and incredibly resilient.
And yet, something feels like it’s shifted for me, and I’m finding myself a little uncomfortable at the thought of going back to some of what was. I mean first things first; it won’t be like it was and I know that better than anyone with so many friends and ex colleagues so affected in their careers by Covid 19 and the ongoing challenges.
But it got me thinking about the impact that all these months at home has actually had on me.
Like so many I’ve soldiered on, I’ve looked and found the positives pretty much all the way. I’ve felt fear, uncertainty, gratitude, positivity, relief, more fear, more gratitude!
And I’ve grown huge amounts, but I think it’s very possible I’ve shrunk a little too?
What am I rambling about I hear you say?
We know there has been concerns about the effect on our mental health through this, with many studies suggesting increased risk. It’s one of many key reasons Boris and co have been so keen to relax lock down in the way they have. We all know it’s not good for anyone’s mental health to be shut away, not able to interact, really humanly interact with other humans, in the way we always have.
But is anyone else feeling like maybe their self-confidence has taken a bit of a knock too?
The world became a smaller place, overnight..
Whilst we have faced the biggest global crisis any of us have ever known, literally our own worlds shrunk in a moment.
We suddenly found ourselves confined to our homes, our gardens if we were lucky enough to have one and our only allowed out was a once a week grocery shop?
Most of us went from socialising daily with the office crew, the school mums and kids, to our partners, our children and only virtual contact with anyone else.
And then the responsibility on the shoulders of so many has been heavier than ever before.
From key workers being hailed as hero’s and clapped for on a weekly basis, to entrepreneurs pivoting their businesses. Domestic roles & duties for some have been reversed, mothers and fathers became overnight teachers. We’ve had to fulfil roles we’ve never fulfilled before, that we probably weren’t ready or qualified for. Little wonder we might be feeling like we haven’t done a great job and our confidence has taken a knock!
So what’s been going on for you?
Whilst our immediate IRL world has shrunk …. Our only contact with the world around us has been through screens. The news, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok …. The list goes on
We’ve seen into the homes of friends, family even celebrities. We have watched others journey through this via the filter of social media. Facebook usage rocketed by more than 50% in the first days and weeks of the pandemic and I’m sure we’ve all cursed our little weekly screen time usage report for reminding us we haven’t seen real people for a while!
We’ve had success stories thrust upon us, and whether they are true or not we absorb them. And then good old comparison rears its head. Pictures of perfect families with seemingly perfect schooling plans.
Entrepreneurs sharing, or worse yet selling, their pivot story and how you too need to change your course in order to survive.
Furloughed friends sunbathing while you’re working hard to make ends meet!
Comparison, resentment, woe is me!
And all you’re trying to do is keep your sh*@ together, get up, get dressed, get your kids fed, keep those few clients, pay the bills, make it through another day!
Social Media is and has been of course a blessing and a curse. It has kept us connected there is no doubt. But it’s also the biggest catalyst for comparison, we see perfect pictures and we tell ourselves we aren’t doing a good enough job. And we can’t even do anything to make our world better because we couldn’t leave the damned house!
All of this likely, slowly, chipping away at our confidence and we might not even realise it.
2. We've been starved of actual human interaction...
Humans need interaction, we all do …. FACT
Whilst I for one am eternally grateful that technology has kept me in contact with my friends and family, let’s be honest the novelty soon wore off!
Who started this lockdown with literally a zoom a night, house party, zoom quiz, a cuppa …? But it just isn’t the same is it. And in truth we all adapted. We started to accept this as our way of living but we got a bit zoomed out!
So 2 things have started to happen in my view:
Firstly, months without real, face to face interaction is tough. Many of us feed off human energy. We react to body language and movement, breathing patterns … subtleties you won’t even be aware of. That’s a lot harder through a screen and exhausting if you give it a try. So we got tired.
Secondly, the novelty wore off. We seem to have started to pull away. The quiz nights have dwindled, the online dinner parties are gone … we’ve shrunk further away from each other. We are self-isolating while fighting and screaming we don’t want to isolate anymore?
All of this can be creating sub conscious self-doubt. Why isn’t anyone wanting to talk with me? What will I say, I have nothing, I don’t do much at the moment? I haven’t been anywhere! I’ll just leave it for now……
3. Many of us have had more time to think than we are used to.
Now I hope for many this has been a joy. A chance to take a breath and really evaluate what’s important.
But I also know this is where that inner voice can get louder.
We’re missing others, we’re missing their feedback, their encouragement, and we have a natural tendency to push ourselves down. Our inner critic speaks up, we start to tell ourselves we aren’t doing enough, being enough, supporting enough, good enough … you get my drift!
And now as we head into July, and realise we are halfway through 2020, many may be thinking this is not how this year was supposed to be. I had such big plans!
New Year, New Decade, it was going to be mine! And it’s all gone a bit Pete Tong! Even though this one was completely and utterly out of our hands we might be feeling sub consciously a bit of a failure …. rightly or wrongly we define ourselves by our actions and our results and this one may be giving us a bit of a self-confidence hit.
What you can do to get your self confidence back through Covid...
Well as we all know the world is opening back up. We may be a little anxious about what that means but it is happening so let’s embrace whatever we need to embrace for us.
If you’re feeling withdrawn and cut off from those closest to you, reach out, share with them how you’re feeling and start building your bridge to the new world together. Share your experiences of lockdown and even if you can’t hug yet, be there for each other.
Reflect on what you have learnt in this time, what strengths have you pulled upon that you haven’t given yourself credit for in the past.
You’ve made it! You’re still here, you’re still going.
Ditch the comparison, it’s been said so many times that we have all been riding the same storm, but all in very different boats. That people is life.
Stay in your lane. Be proud of you, be proud of navigating through this time. We cannot control everything. We couldn’t before and we know more than ever we can’t now … so know you are enough; your best IS enough.
For anyone reading this who has lost a loved one in this time, my heart breaks for you and please know I am sending my love. Loss of a loved one is life changing, I know.
How would they want you to move forward from this? What would they say has been your strength? Remember them with love and a smile Let’s embrace the second half of this year and make it count, let’s not any of us let this have all been for nothing.