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The struggle is real

18 Jul 2020

How’s everyone doing?

I’ve really struggled at times over the last few weeks and I’m sure I’m not alone. While restrictions are lifting I think it is going to be a long time before things will return to pre-COVID conditions.

How will I survive the long, dark cold Canberra winter without a trip to Thailand in July to look forward to? I am aware this is a First World problem but knowing I have that trip to look forward to makes winter somewhat bearable, well that and an electric blanket.

I was catching up with a friend who lives in Hobart (online of course) who said she has never been busier delivering online workshops on working remotely and building resilience. At the beginning of every workshop she explained to people it’s okay not to feel normal because things aren’t normal.

Every aspect of my life is different and sometimes when the sun is streaming through my north-facing back door I think I really like this working from home business. Other days not so much. The face-to-face work conversations where you pick up information or inadvertently get an idea or an insight aren’t happening. I’m finding a lot of the things I do as a communicator take longer because online communication is just not as effective as being in the same room with someone.

Managing homeschooling on top of working from home has been no walk in the park either. It’s hard on a number of levels not least because you know your kids aren’t learning as much as if they had been at school and because frankly you’re a lousy teacher’s aide and an even lousier teacher.

I miss catching up for a coffee, a drink after work, going out to dinner. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

I don’t know if we are at point as a community or even as individuals where we are all going to feel comfortable sharing some COVID-induced struggles at team meetings but I think trying to remember that we are all going through it some way or another is key. It is important to take more time when having team meetings to spend a bit of time to discuss stuff that isn’t work related, the type of stuff you would normally catch up on if you were in the office together.

Be kind to yourself and others. Here are a couple of top tips from a recent IABC article on how to build crisis resilience for you and your team (among other COVD-19 resources):

Calm the mind. Do whatever it takes to pause and calm the mind such as solitary walks in nature if possible, meditation, exercise, listening to music, drawing or painting, etc.

Embrace your fears and anxieties. Accept your fears and anxieties as natural human emotions and let them go.

Balance the worst-case scenarios and the images they evoke with more positive outcomes. Don’t allow the worst-case scenarios to dominate your mind. Train yourself to counter negative visions with more positive ones.

Care for yourself. Be kind to yourself, stop beating yourself up and give yourself a break. Everyone is experiencing these highs and lows.

Give yourself and your teams time off. This is particularly critical for those working from home with limited space and privacy. Working from home is harder in these circumstances. Being able to log off work for a day or more will preserve your sanity. So plan for it.

For some people keeping busy and learning new things is what keeps them going. Now might be a good time to check out IABC certification.

APSC eLearning also has good online resources you might want to check out.

Leonora has worked in senior government communication roles for over 15 years including media roles, large advertising campaigns, and developing digital communications and social media. She is currently heading up communications at the Productivity Commission where she has built team capabilities to produce infographics and animated videos to support releases of their reports, and which feature regularly on new sites such as the SMH, Age and the Financial Review.

Connect on LinkedIn: Leonora Nicol

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