7 Tips to keep you sane during lockdown!

It’s fairly obvious what situation I’m referring to at the moment isn’t it? But during any difficulty you may experience in life it is important to take care of your mind as well as your body. At the moment, while we are all staying at home in the wake of the recent coronavirus outbreak, feelings of boredom, frustration and loneliness are being widely reported, and there are others who are experiencing anxiety and worry about the health of themselves and their loved ones, their businesses and their finances. It’s important to remember that this situation is temporary, and these feelings will pass; but in the meantime what steps can you take to keep on top of your mental wellbeing and maintain a positive mindset while we are all riding out the storm at home?

Here are my 7 tips to keep you sane during lockdown! Make sure you practice them every day!

1- Structure

Life as we know it has suddenly changed and so for most of us our normal daily routine has been completely disrupted. How can we adapt to this and create positive goals and a new routine?

If you are working from home try and set your alarm for the usual time. Get up, get washed and dressed as normal, and work for the same number of hours as you would if you were still at the office. It might be tempting, especially in the first few days of working from home to have a bit of a lie-in, switch the laptop on at lunchtime, and tap away until the small hours, all without changing out of your dressing gown. But in order to stay productive and positive it is important that we maintain structure in our daily lives.

Even if you aren’t working from home, it is important to stick to some sort of routine in order to prevent lying on the sofa in front of the TV in your pants for days on end. You can maintain a positive mindset by writing a daily plan and schedule in things such as cleaning, TV, reading and exercising. I would also recommend setting certain times to look at social media or watch the news instead of watching and listening all day; an overload of media can be counterproductive for someone who is maybe struggling with a lot of worry or anxiety – keep informed of course, but balance that with relaxation, work, and an adapted daily routine in order to keep everything in perspective. With that in mind, sticking to a regular sleep pattern is important too, whether you are working from home or not it is important to keep regular hours and to stay well rested – both will be a huge benefit to your mental health. Try the Ultradian Rhythm!

2- Learn A New Skill

Maybe you have a hobby that you normally struggle to find the time for, and now are going to take the opportunity to really indulge – that’s great if it is an indoor pursuit, but if your passions include team sports or other group activities you might feel that despite having a lot of free time on your hands, you can’t do the things you love. It would be easy to feel down about this and to allow yourself to dwell on its lost. However, what is to stop you developing a new skill? Learning something new is a well-known tool in improving mental health, and is great for building positivity and self-esteem. There’s no better time to learn a new language, art or craft, or musical instrument – and given the technological age we are living in, there’s no excuse either; online tutorials on just about anything you can think of are literally just a click away! And while we’re on the subject of technological advances, have you heard of Zoom? It’s been around since 2011, but has had a recent upsurge in popularity since the coronavirus hit when schools and companies adopted the platform in order to hold conferences, webinars, and lessons – with fitness instructors in particular using it as a way to continue teaching classes from home. Which brings me nicely to tip number 3…

3- Exercise

We all know that physical activity is a great mood lifter, and is key to staying mentally healthy and positive. Even those who are older or not incredibly physically fit can participate in some sort of exercise; whether that be the online classes on offer on platforms such as Zoom or other platforms at the moment, or a walk or jog outside. Maybe the kids have a trampoline in the garden that you can utilise, or take a look at any of the many youtube videos that show you how to use everyday objects to work out at home.

Exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment; it relieves tension and stress and boosts physical and mental energy thanks to the release of endorphins and other feel-good chemicals such as serotonin and oxytocin. If you are able to workout in the garden or outside you’ll benefit from breathing in the fresh air and get an extra boost from the sunlight, but if not, any exercise is better than none. Make exercise part of your daily routine – ideally first thing in the morning, to start your day off in a positive frame of mind that will continue throughout the day.

4- Engage With Others

Obviously at the moment we can’t meet up with friends or colleagues in person, but don’t let that stop you from engaging with other people. Isolation and loneliness isn’t good for anyone’s mindset; we are social creatures and function best when we are able to socialise and interact with others. Thanks, again, to technology and the advent of social media, group chats and video links, as well as the good old telephone, we are better equipped than ever to stay in touch with those around us – even if we are stuck indoors.

5- It’s Not All About You

Using this time to think about the needs of others is actually about you – your positivity that is! If you are someone who tends to overthink things if you have too much time to yourself, why not use this time to concentrate on how you can safely help others? Are there any volunteer programmes running in your area, either through local care homes or charities that support the elderly or vulnerable? Maybe you are able to help get essential supplies to those less fortunate, or shop for an at-risk neighbour? Do you have a qualification or skill you can share with others – perhaps by creating and uploading your own online tutorials?

Thinking about the needs of others will benefit yourself as well as them; often people find that keeping themselves busy and occupied keeps their mind focused, and that being productive means they aren’t letting feelings of worry take over their brain and put them into a negative mindset.

6- Appreciate The Small Things

This one is obvious when you think about it, but is rarely something we consciously do. Now is the time. Perhaps you’re used to working long hours out of the house away from the kids, but now you have the time to really take in what they’re learning at school, or you are able to witness your toddler experience something for the first time. Maybe family meals are normally a rarity, but now you are all going to make an effort to sit and eat together. Appreciate spending time in your family’s company…switch the TV off and have a conversation or play a game.

And what if you are someone who lives alone? Spend more time on the phone with friends, sit in the garden and appreciate your surroundings, feel the world slow down and breathe, appreciate your good health and the fact that you are alive. Taking some time to think of the things we are grateful for will fill our minds with positivity even in the most testing of times. The world is full of blessings and now, more than ever, we have the time to recognise those and hold them close to us.

7- Look For The Good In Others

That’s been quite difficult in recent times with stories of people selfishly stockpiling goods and leaving nothing for other people, but if you spend our time thinking bitter and negative thoughts it is only you that will suffer – the people who have gone home with their car boots full of loo roll and baked beans aren’t affected by what you think. However hard it may seem at times, it is always better for our own positive mindset to look for the good in others rather than always looking for the worst.

Focus not on those who appear selfish but on those who are supporting and helping others; maybe some of those who appear to be loading their trolleys in the supermarkets are shopping for the elderly or a soup kitchen. Think of those who work in the health services at the moment, or those who are essential workers and are keeping the country going, think of all those who are spreading messages of positivity and are trying to cultivate an ‘all in this together’ attitude – these thoughts will foster trust in others and a positive mindset that even in difficult times we can always find a light, but sometimes it has to start within ourselves.

Do It Now!

Hope for the best, plan for the worst!

Hope for the best, plan for the worst is one of my favourite strategies of all times, is very stoic and over the years has served me well!

On the face of it ‘Hope for the best, plan for the worst’ sounds like quite a pessimistic phrase, doesn’t it? Maybe it’s the ‘hope’ part; it brings to mind visions of finger crossing and the clutching of ‘lucky’ charms. Or is it the ‘worst’ part, which conjures the idea of dreadful expectations and despair. In truth we can spin that phrase to mean something incredibly positive, and we apply it to every walk of life, often without even realising it.

Hoping for the best but planning for the worst is the reason we don’t all drive like maniacs; we want to reach our destinations safely and with everyone intact, and so we follow the rules of the road; wear seat belts, don’t text or drink and drive, and are aware of other road users. These actions could be construed as hoping for the best, but planning for the worst. So could the fact that we take out life insurance – or any insurance for that matter – as a ‘just in case’.

The phrase is the reason brides wanting an outdoor ceremony will ensure there is an equally beautiful indoor area on ‘stand-by’, and the reason that explorers meticulously plan their routes and pack extra food and clothing; even if they have done similar journeys a thousand times.

Planning for a worst case scenario isn’t the same as expecting one and can in fact be a very positive attitude to have. One example would be Pete, a mate of mine who for as long as I’ve known him has advocated saving for a rainy day. He is by no means a tight-arse or a skin-flint, and certainly not a man who spends his time expecting his car to break down or his roof to cave in; in fact, knowing that he has money put away for a ‘worst case scenario’ gives him great peace of mind and contributes to his feelings of positivity, or, ‘hope’.

If you contrast this with another bloke I know, who’s name I won’t mention, that is constantly broke and always worrying that some terrible disaster is going to befall him you’ll see that ‘planning for the worst’ can certainly make a difference to the positivity of your mindset, which as we know, has a knock-on effect on all areas of your life.

So it’s fair to say that having a plan in place in case the worst should happen is a very positive step, and one that we all implement in many ways; but what about when it specifically comes to something like our business? What conscious decisions, changes or plans can we make to ensure that a ‘worst case scenario’ isn’t so bad?

  • Risk Assessment – Take a look at what potential risks your business might face? This could be anything from running your business from home, but living in a terrible phone reception area, to working out of a premises in an area that floods every winter. Of course we all realise that simply moving house or changing premises often isn’t a quick, or viable, option. So what can we do to prepare? It could be a case of shelling out for better broadband, making sure you have all your proper insurances in place, and having a contingency plan such as temporary alternative premises and an equipment evacuation strategy. This isn’t doom-mongering, it’s being prepared and putting your mind at rest.
  • Be Aware Of The Competition – You’d be hard-pressed to find a business that won’t encounter some competition at some time or other, and your best bet if that happens to you isn’t to start massively under-cutting or panicking or firing staff; it’s about preparing and planning. Being aware of what similar businesses to yours are up to just makes good sense, and it can definitely help when it comes to ‘preparing for the worst’. Of course you have faith in your business and in your abilities and are expecting big success, but if you’re noticing that the salon down the road is suddenly offering loyalty cards, discounted rates on a Tuesday, and has employed a nail technician, then chances are this will lead to an extra influx of customers, and it would be worth looking at your own business strategies and what you can offer to increase your own profits. It’s really a case of keeping your ideas fresh and flowing, rather than getting complacent and encountering a ‘worst case scenario’ because you weren’t prepared for it.
  • Looking After Your Team – If you run a business that employs staff, whether that be 2 or 200, you need to always be prepared for a worst case scenario. What would you do if you encountered staff shortages due to illness? Unfortunately if that was the case you would have to either take on some of the extra workload yourself or reach out to agency workers or even family members! Not ideal perhaps, but it is a plan that you could have in place that would counteract, ‘the worst’. When it comes to staff you also want to make sure you have a happy team; you don’t want your worst case scenario being dissention in the ranks or a walk-out. I’m not talking about offering sky-high wages and letting people slack off whenever they feel like it, but in order to keep productivity high you’ll need to have plans in place with regards to the fair distribution of holiday leave, bonuses perhaps, and perks – whether that be making sure there’s always a well-stocked staff kitchen, or organising staff events. Think of these things as ‘hoping for the best’ – a contented and hard-working team.
  • Looking After Yourself – Do you have a plan in place for if you are too ill to work? Do you have all the necessary personal insurances in place? A trusted ‘number 2’ should you be unwell or are away? Again, this isn’t expecting the worst, it’s making sure that your business is still standing and you still have an income in a ‘worst case scenario’ – it’s protecting your peace of mind, particularly important if you have a family to provide for as well as yourself. No better feeling than being able to relax on a beach enjoying a well-earned break, knowing that everything is ticking over nicely back home – thanks to the plans you made in advance.
  • And What About The Others? – Suppliers, designers, business contacts, your accountant….all these people that you work with and rely on a daily basis and that you hope to have a long and fruitful relationship with could suddenly not be there at a moment’s notice, for many reasons. What would you do if your trusted supplier suddenly went out of business or stopped trading? Do you have other contacts in the pipeline if your current ones retire or change business track? This is why networking is so invaluable. Constantly building your business framework will ensure that you have a never ending support system to call upon should times get tough…of course you hope for the best, but….

Planning for the worst, in any given situation, is a way of asserting control over your own destiny and in these very trying times maintaining contact and relationships is very important!

That equipment’s just been damaged. Ok, call the insurance company.
Steve’s broken his arm and he won’t be in for 6 weeks. Not to worry, call the agency and tell them we need them to send someone out from Monday.
Our regular supplier is out of stock. No problem, I know a guy in the next town that can help.

By hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst, we can stay focused, driven, and positive. It really is just about planning and staying one step ahead In any situation.

Do it now.

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The consistency principle!

Sometimes the only consistency in people’s lives is the consistency to be inconsistent!

Many years ago I worked with a bloke who was always banging on about how motivated and hardworking he was. He always has plenty to say about how much he had to do, how much he had done, how he never stopped and that no one around him could understand how he got so much done, and how he was surprised he hadn’t bagged a promotion yet.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that this was the most hard working and productive man in all the world, and that the whole business would crumble without him. Trouble was, his actions and thoughts did not match up with what was coming out of his mouth. And therefore neither did his results. On the surface of things he was always rushing around, huffing and puffing, shuffling papers, and flitting from workstation to workstation to let everyone know how busy he was.

When you looked deeper it was clear that aside from a lot of talk, he wasn’t really getting anything done. He procrastinated a lot, spent a lot of time in the office kitchen making coffee, and was constantly trying to engage others in conversation while they were working. Because of this inconsistency between his words, thoughts, and actions, he was always the one who ended up having to work weekends and late into the night in order to meet his targets and deadlines.

If he had actually backed up all those claims about working so hard, by applying the same mindset and following through with the actions, he would have been as successful and productive as he claimed to want to be, and in the same time frame as everyone else who worked there.

In order to be consistent our inner beliefs and attitudes have to be supported – both by each other, and by external evidence. It’s no good talking the talk if you’re not going to walk to walk, as they say, and when we make sure that our thoughts, words and actions are aligned, wonderful things can happen. Applying the principles of consistency won’t just benefit you at work; any area of your life that you want to improve will profit from consistent actions, which, when coupled with time, will give you real results, in whatever area you want to achieve them.

As with most things that will make us successful, this all needs to start with your mindset. It is no good having a negative mindset and then expecting to believe in the positive things that come out of your mouth, or expecting good results. It’s ok having positive thoughts and we have to have positive action to go with them. Think of it like this; positive thoughts are the vehicle and positive action is the fuel!

So what changes can we make to ensure that our thoughts, words, and actions all marry up, and how can we implement them in our daily lives?

  • Start A Morning Ritual – Consistency starts with simply repeating the same thought or action over and over again, until it becomes habit, and it is human nature to want to be consistent with what we have done before. This is why a good start to the day often means your whole day will be good, and vice versa; ‘one of those days’. Maybe as soon as you get out of bed and put your feet on the floor, you say to yourself “Make The Most Of Every Day!” Plan a limited list of what you want to include in your morning ritual or routine, this will stop you from waking up and pressing snooze, or procrastinating when you could be being productive. Your ritual doesn’t have to be long or complicated, it just has to be consistent. It could involve things as simple as having your clothes laid out ready the night before, lunch packed, a healthy breakfast waiting for you etc. consistently having a stress-free morning with a ritual will foster a positive mindset to start the day.                                                                                                                        
  • Don’t Feel Like It? Do It Anyway! – Let’s say for example that part of your morning ritual is going for a ten minute run. The first couple of days you did and you felt great! On day 3 it’s raining. On day 4 you’re not really feeling it. By day 5 – well you’ve already missed 2 days, so why bother? It can take 21 days to form a habit, but only a couple to break one, and being consistent in all areas of life is going to involve sometimes having to do something that you might feel that you don’t want to. Re-train that brain and change that mindset! Goals and success will not be achieved if we allow negative thoughts to control us. Do It Now!

 

  • Don’t Damage Yourself – If you stop doing the things that make you feel good about yourself – such as that morning run I mentioned, or sticking to deadlines, or that diet, or being kind to others, you are only hurting yourself. Once we do things that make us feel lazy, guilty, mean-spirited, we feel bad about ourselves, and we can’t get away from it. There is no escaping yourself – that is who you are stuck with. This should be a powerful motivator to be consistent with your thoughts and behaviour.

 

  • Focus On The Process, Not The Results – This can apply to any task you undertake in life: business, relationships, working out. You should already know what your goal is, focus on the small daily actions to take you towards that goal and then measure at the end of each day to see if you have moved towards the goal or away from it? Don’t take responsibility for your results in the gym or that promotion you want; instead take responsibility for the processes leading up to that; focus on showing up and doing your workout, focus on being productive at work, and those long term goals will be achieved through that CONSISTENT action.

 

  • Let Go Of Who You Used To Be – Often we let our old self image hold us back from who and what we want to become. Always seeing yourself as the procrastinator or dreamer, the one who just coasts by in life, or the unfit, unhealthy one, will stop you from evolving and growing into who you want to become. We are programmed at an early age to believe we are one thing or another, it’s not necessarily the truth. You can be the person that you want to be, if you believe that you can! It all starts with a change of mindset. Start to think of yourself as a healthy person, a go-getter, someone who faces challenges head on and gets things done! Once you are consistently thinking these positive thoughts about yourself, that is who you will become. It will become easy to talk about yourself as this ‘new’ person, and to act accordingly. Read Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz

 

  • Remind Yourself – A useful tip to make sure that you are being consistent with your thoughts and actions throughout the day is to constantly remind yourself of what it is you want to achieve through this consistent behaviour – a healthier body, a 6 figure salary, that big promotion. If you say you are going to do something then do it! “Say What You Do, Do What You Say!” Simply write it down and incorporate it into your daily environment – a post-it note on the bathroom mirror or the fridge, as a screensaver on your computer, something you will look at daily and be reminded of what you’re working towards.

Fostering change and success in your life can only truly be achieved by the changes that YOU make, and these all start in the mind. Maybe now is the time to be consistently consistent with some changes, and amazing things will happen.

Do It Now!