What to do when you face the productivity wall – My How to Cope Post
This post has been a hard one to do, as like most of you I have just heard that we are in Lockdown number 3 and that all the plans for meeting our loved ones after Tier 4 has lifted have been put back (again!).
When feeling down (or whatever you want to call it) everything becomes much harder to do and we all feel less productive and less able to cope with work, families, shopping and basically life!
Also you will have noticed that social media is now full of helpful hints and guides to feeling better, more positive and smiley, well this is not one of those – this is my ‘how to cope‘ post, because being told to smile and listen to happy music when you are feeling down, personally speaking doesn’t help, it just makes me want to shout!
My ‘How to Cope’ Post
I wouldn’t say I suffer from depression a lot, there were key times when my second child was born and later when a previous business was experiencing challenges, when I could not see the wood from the trees and everything seemed stacked against me. The cloud of doubt and uncertainty settled over my head for days on end and often everything seemed to be a herculean task to manage and to eventually move on from.
This is not new or unique, I know many people who have experienced the same thing, and worse of course, and I know now that there are ways to cope with this and come out of the other side, however tough it feels now.
So here is my short list of ways to cope, I hope it helps you, and if you have any more methods that help you, please add them to the comments so that we can help others!
My short list of coping
- Accept you are feeling down
I know this sounds counter-intuitive, as there are so many posts and articles telling you cheer up – be grateful and look on the bright side. But this is not what you are feeling. You are feeling down for a reason. Taking time to think about the reason and why you feel this way can go a long way to resolving the underlying issue. It may be something you can control, or not, but recognising it and taking time to accept that this is how you feel can help both in the short term, and long term.
- Match what you do to your mood
As an accountant I am quite lucky, as I can choose to do what some would call boring repetitive work, such as entering expenses onto an Excel spreadsheet, or reconciling a bank account. I don’t find this boring at all, but it is a repetitive process with an expected outcome, and I ALWAYS feel good when my bank balances!
The point here is that whoever you are, you can usually find something steady and which does not require lots of thought, which you can do whilst feeling like this, such as sorting out your underwear drawer, weeding the garden or pruning roses. Whatever it is, when it is done no matter how small, you can feel a sense of accomplishment, which will release the endorphins that always make us feel better.
Do your Self Assessment Return!
Historically we don’t like doing our Tax Return as it rakes over our income and expenses from a year ago, and we find ourselves hunting down the ‘Gateway code’ or the P60 from when life was more ‘normal’! Ironically everyone I know always feels better when they have given me their ‘bundle’ of papers or pressed submit on their return! Taking that first step to open the drawer and start the process is always the hardest, but worth it and you can make a list, such as (1) find paperwork (2) write a list of incomes (3) write a list of outgoings.
- Show how you feel!
When the mood hits the worst, I would take a leaf out of Mr Churchills book, announce that the ‘Black dog’ is here, and start painting. In the past I have painted with oils, acrylics and most recently with ‘Dulux’ Matt emulsion, there is something about painting, whether it is a wall, or a canvas which makes you feel better. I have in the past drawn or painted some really dark pictures, then when they were finished, I have destroyed them and thrown them away. Part of the dark feelings get thrown away with them. You do not need to paint ‘happy’ or ‘good’ pictures!
Other people I know will sing or play the drums, no matter how much I ask them to stop!! Again this is a good way to express how you feel, and to feel a little better afterwards! On behalf of everyone else though please do this during the day and preferably in a noise cancelling room!
- Talk It through
The reason we have cliches – is because they are true! Talking to friends, family and anyone else who will listen is a good way to get a down mood off of your chest! Just as important, and not so widely reported, is the need to listen. When you have something on your mind, putting it to one side and talking to someone about them and their issues will do two things, it will put your own issues in perspective, as well as take your mind off of it if even for a short period. Most people like to talk about themselves, but nosey people like me love to hear about others and their lives. It is not just curiosity, it does actually make you feel better and more connected to others!
One of the many benefits I have found to online networking the last few months, is that our networking ‘groups’ have become closer somehow, maybe its because of the unusual circumstances we all find ourselves in, or because we are chatting to people we know in our own homes, but all of the people I talk to seem to be more open about how they feel, what problems they have encountered and the group as a whole are more supportive and helpful in providing suggestions and options, as well as sympathy and support.
A year ago I would never have imagined finding myself in such diverse company, but I am very grateful that I took the step to join these groups when as an accountant I would have much rather stayed in the office and quietly done accounts.
- This too shall pass
Again this is a cliché, but we know why. Taking time to look back over our past careers and then forward to what we hope will happen this year, as we get older we get to see patterns in our lives. People who have popped up at just the right moment, accidental meetings which have led to life long friendships and relationships. Choices which led to other choices and eventually to the path of what we wanted.
So to finish on a positive note, life is not what happens to you, but how you respond, so although I am very down that I wont be able to see my children for at least another month, and that I know many people who have been ill, I also know people who have been shielding for over 300 days and counting, and yet running successful businesses, my children will still be here when the lockdown lifts and we are all vaccinated, and that in the near future the sun will be shining and we will be able to enjoy it outside and together
Until then please stay safe and look after yourselves, and each other!
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