Jane Woods runs Changing People, a coaching and training business dedicated to the advancement of women. She is kindly offering free coaching sessions to WIJ members – see below.
I know loads of you work from home usually so maybe it’s not that different, but… well, it is different now, isn’t it? Working from home when everyone else is working from home is a bit less alluring. And noisier. If it’s new to you it can be lonely, too. Here are ten things to help you cope.
Watch Out Where You Hang Out
Misery is contagious. The good news is that happiness is, too. Hang out (virtually) with happy people. Seek out those people who radiate positivity, and you’ll soon find your own mood lifting. Go through your social media right now and get rid of the moaners. (Unless they might be a future employer, hang on to them.)
Control What You Think
Think about spam. No, not the stuff in a tin, the stuff in your head. We all have awful negative thoughts which our sneaky brain bots slip into our head from time to time. It is not helpful to you. Identify your classic spam messages and stick a filter on right now. The best solution is to replace it with something positive. You will get a job/commission, contract. Be nice to yourself.
Look like a Newsreader and Be Less Stressed
I don’t mean only dress your top half for Zoom meetings. A certain amount of stress, as you know, is good for you; how motivating is a deadline? Currently though, it’s almost like stress is actually in the air and you may be sitting there looking miserable and absorbing it without even realising it. What’s your expression right now? Are you slumped a bit and frowning? Try this several times a day: Think Newsreader. Researchers have found that sitting up straight actually makes us feel better. Good posture helps you manage stress and makes you breathe more effectively. Plus, smiling, even a fake rictus grin, tricks your brain into releasing a few happy hormones. Go on, do a Mishal Husain right now, don’t you feel better?
Forget About Your Lockdown Pulitzer Prize Winning Opus
Seriously, take the pressure off yourself. I am so fed up with hearing that Shakespeare wrote all his sonnets during the plague, or something. He didn’t have to cope with endless emails and pings from his phone. Frankly, it was easy for him; it’s actually quite hard to be creative in isolation. Sometimes it’s a major achievement just to get through the day without eating three times your body weight and drinking all the left-over holiday booze. You do have an advantage; you are used to coming up with good ideas so don’t miss capturing them when they do. But don’t force it. Relax a little.
Thirty Minute Magic
When you really can’t get yourself going, remember the 30-minute magic. Decide you will work on the thing you don’t want to work on for just 30 minutes. Almost anything is tolerable for 30 minutes. At best, once started you will carry on. At worst, you will at least have done 30 minutes and can do 30 minutes tomorrow. NB This does not work for dieting.
Are You Sitting Comfortably?
I’m not going all Jackanory on you but you’ve got to be comfortable. It matters because it’s hard to be inspired and write great pieces if your back aches. Your back will ache if you sit perched on the end of your bed for hours on end. Look after yourself and create as nice and as comfortable workspace as you can.
Get Out the Crayons
On all my courses we use colour because colour stimulates your brain to think more creatively. Next time you’re stuck for an idea try ‘drawing’ out the problem, absolutely no words. Then have a coffee and look afresh at what you’ve ‘drawn’. It may surprise you.
If your radio is permanently tuned to the news, just in case you miss something, try changing the station. Obviously, you need to know what’s going on, but ration it. Play music. Happy music evokes happy memories. It really impacts on your brain – in a good way.
Lend a Hand
When you feel low try to turn your thoughts away from yourself and outwards. Be nice to someone on social media or volunteer to shop for a neighbour. It kicks off all the good hormone action and two people get to feel good!
No, not that sort…
Once a day take time out to think about the future. Not in an Oh god it’s the apocalypse kind of way but in a wow, am I going to have some fun again, kind of way. Give yourself a little creative mind trip into the future.
Jane runs two courses, written specifically for women. RenewYou, a one-day confidence boosting course, and Speak Up looking at researched-based differences and biases in men and women at work. She’s worked for Sky, News UK, various Universities, the NHS, among others, as well as delivering courses and coaching one to one.
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For the duration of the lockdown Jane is offering free coaching sessions