Have you ever felt like you’re not doing lockdown ‘right’? With social media feeds full of folks filling their time with endless life-enriching activities, it can be easy to think we’re surviving rather than thriving. But are we forgetting what really matters?
Our conversation with Ryan started like any other during this time of virtual working – a Skype meeting, with the normal pleasantries and chitchat followed by some pre-prepared questions.
But it soon became clear that Ryan, a Consultant in Human Capital, is winning at lockdown. And not because he’s baking banana bread or learning to play the ukulele (although he might well be!). He’s simply managed to find a routine that works for him – by being kind to himself, and listening to his body and mind.
After 30 minutes of chatting to Ryan, thriving in lockdown felt just that bit more achievable. We hope his positivity helps you too.
“I live in a shared flat in Stratford, East London, with my two housemates. But, for the past eight weeks I’ve been here alone. I had COVID-19 symptoms just before the lockdown began, and my housemates both decided to stay with their parents while I was self-isolating.
I’m an outgoing, sociable person. It’s interesting - before all of this I always thought I always needed to be around big groups of people. But I’ve found so much pleasure in solitary activities like taking long walks and reading. Maybe I’m not as much of an extrovert as I thought!
Although, if anything, I’m talking to friends and family more than ever before. I FaceTime with my Grandad every day. The camera angles lack something to be desired, I often find I’m talking up his nostrils! But even after lockdown, I want to keep making time to FaceTime Grandad.
And I want to keep reaching out to people, asking genuine questions and being more present for those I care about. I’m not a fan of the term ‘social distancing’. I prefer ‘physical distancing’, because while I might be physically on my own, I’ve actually never felt less alone.”
Stop to taste the coffee
“I think I’ve adapted pretty well to life in lockdown. Although it’s definitely worth saying that I was focused on my wellbeing before all this started.
I care a lot about wellbeing, having had poor spiritual, physical and mental wellbeing before myself. But I’ve learnt a lot of new things about myself through this experience. And I’m also pretty proud of my lockdown moustache!
The first thing I do each morning is make a coffee and take 15-30 minutes to just think. I sit by the window, enjoy the sun and focus on how my coffee tastes.
I don’t want to call it mindfulness, because that word can put people off. But just having that time to enjoy your coffee and not feeling the pressure of being online can be really grounding.”
“I think most of us feel like we spend too much time in front of a screen right now. I know I was – I’d take a break, but spend the whole time scrolling through articles on my phone.
I was constantly reading about everything going on in the world, and taking on all that stress – when in reality there’s nothing I can do about it; if it’s important someone will tell me. And then, what do you do when catching up with friends after work? More screens!
It’s draining. Our subconscious mind can’t differentiate between screens for work and pleasure – which means our anxiety levels don’t adjust. I try to make sure I have time in my day away from technology where I can just pause and reflect.”
“Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your wellbeing. When your heart rate goes up, your cortisol levels will go down. And that means you’ll feel more relaxed.
I normally enjoy lifting weights, but I can’t do that at the moment, so I’ve had to adapt my exercise and nutrition routine - sadly no more third lunches for me!
Every day I do a 1,000 rep bodyweight workout. It may sound like a mammoth task, but it isn’t. I do five pull ups every 30 minutes during the day (meetings permitting) until I reach 100, and then a 40-minute workout at the end of the day. But I know that’s not right for everyone! And it doesn’t have to be that intense – just getting out for regular walks can make a big difference to how you feel.
I also find going for a walk helps me draw a line under my working day. My office is my living room. If I was just staying at home I’d barely move a metre from my desk to my couch at the end of the day. Even the smallest things can help distinguish your work from your evening. Shutting the lid of your laptop. Putting your work phone face down. Moving to a different spot to read. Those end-of-day rituals can help you switch off and relax.”
We’re only human
“I’ve been at Deloitte since September 2017 – so two and half years. I’m a Consultant in Human Capital, which is all about supporting our clients to put the ‘people lense’ on big digital transformation projects. I’ve learnt a lot in that time, and it’s helped me work out that my passion is helping people. Ultimately, I’d love to work in wellbeing, diversity, respect and inclusion. To take the things that make my life a lot better and use them to help other people.
This is an opportunity for reflection, for me to learn and develop, and build new relationships that will help me get closer to my goal. One day, when I look back on this period of time, I want to be able to say that I improved my physical, mental, spiritual wellbeing; even slightly.”