Let me start this with a disclaimer. I’m not a medical expert. The advice and messages I give in this piece are based purely on my own experiences. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is better than speaking to a health professional.
Lockdown. The word we’ve all come to dread. I think if anyone was to say to you “I’ve found this really easy”, you’d probably question if they were lying to you. I’m guessing if you’re reading this then you love work and business. Lockdown has changed ‘work’ in so many different ways. Perhaps the one thing I didn’t expect it to change was my health.
Let’s jump back to week one. In all honesty I wasn’t actually too bothered.
“Lockdown? It’ll last 6 weeks then the world will have to continue!”.
How wrong could I have been? However, I kept busy working away. I completed all client work, I invested in new kit and I took some online classes. That lasted for four weeks. Twice a week I’d sit down to do the new norm of attending a zoom quiz or Friday night drinks with ‘the lads’. I started eating rubbish because why not? Week seven rolled around and I started to really feel lockdown.
I’ve always been someone who has to be busy. If I’m not busy my mind goes into overdrive. I worry, I panic and I start second guessing everything. I felt cut off from friends, my girlfriend and my family. You miss absolutely everything that you have sub consciously taken for granted. It takes a toll. I even started to miss the 5am drives to London and the 11pm finishes in the office. As a person, I just love people and my job, so having that taken away is actually a huge deal.
About six weeks ago it really hit me that I wasn’t coping with this. I was convincing myself that this is how everyone feels and this will pass. Maybe it would have, but I knew in myself this wasn’t how I wanted to feel and that ultimately not having my normal life was a big deal to me.
Work has always been such a huge part of my life. It’s not a job for me, it’s a passion that drives me to be better and to develop myself. This, along with not seeing the people I cared about suddenly really shook me, and the idea that this may never get better started to take over. I will say this, I have acknowledged that I have burnt myself out this past 18 months. I pushed my brain further and longer than I ever should of. I let work overtake my personal life and whilst sometimes you have to do that, life is for living and I have really learnt to enjoy life whilst it’s happening.
So I did like all men do and did nothing for a while. As you can imagine that didn’t help in the slightest. I dug deep, I filled out the online questionnaire and then had a chat with my GP. It’s an odd feeling telling a complete stranger that you don’t feel okay, that the root of your upset and stress is actually the fear of not being able to work. But after 15 minutes of talking to this complete stranger and listening to their advice, I felt this wave of relief.
For all of lockdown I’d been saying the same statement to friends and loved ones,
“I’m not really worried. I have savings. It is what it is and I can’t do anything about it.”
In reality, it was very different. ASM is a culmination of 10 years worth of work and development. The thought of an invisible virus taking all that away from me was actually terrifying. Bottling all that up inside and just keeping my head in the sand was literally causing my health to deteriorate. I started gaining weight, I was irritable and I lost any and all interest in anything.
As lockdown begins to ease there is a light for us all in the working world. Some of us have had support, others have had none. Some us have thrived and some have come close to collapsing. Nobody is the same as each other when it comes to dealing with this. I’ve found that speaking to other business owners actually made me feel worse as they seemed to be thriving in this situation. In reality, their business and approach was just different to mine. I fell for the one thing I continually bang on about and started comparing my business to others on social media, which started a chain of events for me.
Work is about 80% of our lives. If you run your own business then its probably 99.9%. It’s okay for your job to make you feel a certain way. If anything, it shows an incredible strength in character. Giving a damn about work is a very good thing in my book. So when it doesn’t go your way, it’s okay for it to beat you down at times. It’s like a relationship, when you go through a rough patch it really does suck.
This post isn’t about advice. This is just letting you know that it’s okay for this entire situation to get to you. Some will deal fine with it and thrive. Others like me will hate every single second of this. I had one phone call and some free advice and I’ve felt better than ever have done. I ate better, cleaned up my diet, bought a bike and stopped burying my head In the sand.
If you’re struggling on any level speak to someone. Family and friends are a great place to start, but if you feel it’s more than that or you feel that this causing you real problems speak to a professional.
This is far from over and we will be dealing with Covid for a very long time. If you have worries, concerns or just want to have a moan about this entire thing then do it. Lads, I’m looking at you. Speak up and talk. The best medicine is talking, a better diet and getting the steps in.
Take a breather. Work will always exist in some way. As I mentioned, I’m guilty of going too hard and missing out on life. I love my job and I’ve been able to see the world because of it. But just remember that the balance between living and existing is a very fine line.