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The ‘New Normal’

Have you ever wished you had more time to learn a musical instrument, to cook, to garden, to decorate, to read, to clear out all that clutter? Janice Joannou, Certitude’s Head of Learning & Organisation Development, thinks some of us may now be careful what we wish for… 

Janice, Head of Learning & Organisation Development

Big changes

On 23rd March, like many people (1.5 million to be more precise), I was told I needed to self-isolate for a minimum of 12 weeks. No leaving the house, no family contact (other than by phone/video call) and at first, no access to online food shopping. 

For the first week or so I was obsessed with just getting a food delivery slot.

In my quest, I did pick up a very useful tip when registering with the Government as an ‘extremely vulnerable person’ (after I’d received my official letter confirming I was part of this elite group). As a vulnerable person, my details were shared with supermarkets so they could offer me ‘priority’ delivery slots when they became available. But until this was sorted out, Government-issued food parcels mysteriously appeared at my front door each week.

Surreal

It all felt so surreal – stuck in my cocoon, isolated from the world, safe, warm and fed, yet every news story was filled with the horror of the Covid-19 crisis and its devastation upon so many unsuspecting victims. Our wonderful NHS creaking and almost breaking under the strain of it all. Even those who have supported the systematic underfunding of the NHS over the past decade, publicly applauding a new generation of ‘heroes.’

Finding perspective

I have always thought that people’s ability to deal with adversity and adapt to change is quite remarkable. Is it possible to find something positive in our current situation – to find beauty in the smallest things, to remember what we can all be truly grateful for. 
Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison and dedicated his whole life to fighting apartheid, said: 

“I am fundamentally an optimist. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”

Viktor Frankl, who survived the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps, wrote in his book, ‘Man’s search for Meaning’:

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Looking after myself

By comparison, my isolation is a walk-in-the-park. This is how I start each Ground Hog day:

  • I remind myself how fortunate I am to have somewhere safe and warm to live. 

  • I keep updated but don’t obsess about Covid-19 news. 

  • I use my personal time productively (i.e. I set myself goals that don’t just include Netflix and eating).

  • I make time for exercise, I listen to music and get out in the garden. I make sure I speak to someone other than the cat each day.

  • I remember and am happy that I work for an organisation that provides incredible services and which makes such a huge impact on people’s lives. 

  • I think about the commitment and tireless energy being shown by our operational staff and look for ways we can better support them at this time. 

  • I am grateful that I work for an organisation that cares for its employees and is finding ways to ensure we all stay safe.

We are told that things will never be the same again.

If this means the planet is healing, and we remember how to be kind to each other again, then that is undoubtedly a good thing.

Let’s get ready for our ‘new normal’ and be proactive in creating a future that works for all of us.

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