Lockdown fatigue is real.
Many children’s activity providers faced with the ongoing uncertainty Covid-19 brings are struggling at present. Feelings of stress, anxiety and isolation are commonplace across society and in particular to small business owners. If you believe some experts, we are on the verge of a mental health crisis. If you’ve been home-schooling children at the same time, you’ve possibly felt an even higher level of these things over the past few weeks.
Understand you’re not alone. We are talking to activity providers every day feeling like this.
Covid-19 has upended our lives. Requirements to stay home more often, wear masks, socially distance have created completely new habits and with that changed the way we work, interact and how we live our daily lives. The impact has been significant. Add to that the constant gloomy media and you’re forgiven for feeling exhausted and somewhat emotionally drained.
In a similar vein, planning ahead at times may have seemed a little futile. Perhaps the challenges of the past year have dented your confidence in running your business, delivering your activities or interacting with customers. Being ‘out the game’ is a surefire way of feeling disconnected to it all.
However, those of you who have followed our insights for awhile, will know we are nothing if not pragmatic optimists here at ICAP, and with an equal dose of faith and stoicism have an unshakeable belief in the sector and know that there are simply too many hard-working, determined and talented individuals inside it for it not to bounce back strongly. We spoke passionately about this here.
We just have to remain patient and manage the fatigue.
Here’s a few brief thoughts to help with those stuck in a rut or feeling the ‘blues’:
1. Understand that how you’re feeling is normal
You have every right to feel frustrated with the situation. We’re all ‘done’ with the pandemic. Being stuck at home is no fun. As children’s activity providers, you entertain, educate and inspire children and families and even those who have successfully switched to online services are likely feeling similar.
You must know there’s nothing wrong with feeling like any of this. It is a normal reaction to an unpleasant situation. What is of critical importance to both your health and future business success is to ensure you don’t succumb to unhealthy habits and ways of dealing with these pressures.
2. Reframing your thinking
Acknowledging your thoughts right now is important as it will validate those feelings. You might want to do this publicly or privately, and then try to look at it from a more positive viewpoint. You might have read our article in December, which ended by saying you ‘haven’t come this far, to stop now’. That sentence can be an incredibly powerful way of reframing your mind. If you’re simply feeling ‘over it’ and in the grips of lockdown fatigue, try to look optimistically at the things within your control instead of focusing of everything that isn’t.
Similarly, thinking about the opportunities available to you as opposed to what isn’t can be useful. Instead of seeing the restrictions as a harsh limitation of what you’d ideally be doing i.e. socialising, see it as a great opportunity to focus on other areas of your life like bonding with family, forging strong networks, business strategising or improving your personal health.
3. Rediscover any lost routines
Some may not live by strict routines (or they may have gone out the window) and as business owners you have a certain freedom to live more flexibly. But there’s a power in routine helping to maintain stability and predictability, two things everyone is craving at present.
Trying to establish simple routines each day like getting up at a consistent time, exercising, making your bed, getting dressed, eating breakfast etc have consistently been shown in studies to be linked with success. Simply getting out in the fresh air every day can be incredibly powerful. Try to force yourself into good daily habits for a better routine and frame of mind.
4. Greater focus on self-care
Human biology dictates that we are social beings who like to connect with one another. Being locked down, might suit some just fine, but not for most. It’s not in our nature. It’s perhaps understandable if things like self-care gets shelved at times but taking care of yourself, especially if you’re feeling low is more important than ever. Things like getting enough sleep, being physically active and maintaining a healthy diet are all vital.
On another note, while you probably love your business consider reconnecting with lost passions like cooking, reading, writing, gardening, art and other activities you can do easily. This could be a great time to re-engage with other loves in your life or new hobbies.
5. Seek help if you need it
We’re certainly not psychologists or councillors here. We know that some of the above ideas and thoughts won’t work for everyone and maybe what started as feeling ‘low’ has become something more serious. Everyone has limits and it might be that you need to take a moment to seek some help.
Maybe this is simply talking to a partner, family or close friends about how you’re feeling and using them as an outlet. For others it might be turning to professional advice and support such as those offered by the NHS or charities like Mind.
Whichever route, understand doing this is a strength, not a weakness.
6. Remember that this situation is temporary
It can be hard, especially with the length of time the virus has gripped the world, but it’s so important you remember the current pandemic will end just like all other historic pandemics, the vaccines are doing their job, data is looking increasingly more positive in many regards and the end will come.
We think it’s in sight and when it’s over, while nobody will look back on it fondly, you will hopefully come back stronger personally and professionally from the experience.