It’s been 20 days since I first started to feel the symptoms of Covid-19. I’m finally starting to feel back to my usual self and have had plenty of time for reflection on these extraordinary times. This article is a little bit of my thinking about how we can cope, thrive, and take advantage of these unusual circumstances.
I want to try and shift your perspective with and bring a little positivity into your day. It’s not about denying reality and the seriousness of the situation we find ourselves in, it’s about trying to find a little bit of light in the darkness.
We are an amazingly resilient and resourceful species, seriously, we’re incredible. We’ve all heard the almost unbelievable stories of our ability to survive the most difficult experiences from the Aron Ralston who cut off his own arm after it was trapped under a rock to the Thai football team that survived being trapped in a cave for 18 days (and you thought your isolation was tough!).
With the increasingly global shut down of our industry and forced isolation, shifting our perspective, can help us see we’ve been gifted an amazing opportunity, one that it would be criminal to waste.
By most measures, those that work in hospitality are amongst the unhealthiest of workers in any industrial sector. The long, inconsistent hours, night-time shift work leading to sleep deprivation, extreme substance abuse, and diets consisting predominately of pizza, burgers, and Jagermeister.
But with self-isolation, you can go to bed whenever you want, change up your diet, give yourself important time to rest, recover, and take a little breather, something that is so rare in our fast paced, modern capitalist society.
This is a great opportunity to build a solid sleep routine and treat yourself to the vital recovery that it provides. Consistency, something that’s so hard to find when your shift patterns are constantly changing and is vital to good sleep, is suddenly achievable. Try to go to bed and get up at a similar time every day, leave your phone out of the bedroom and focus on trying to get 5 full sleep cycles (each cycle is roughly 90 minutes long) in a night.
The great food author Michael Pollan lists cooking at home from raw ingredients as the most impactful thing you can do to improve your nutrition. With so much time at home what better time to get cooking and perfect some classic pasta dishes, curries, and poke bowls.
Working in hospitality is physical. Use this time to let your body rest, recover, and heal itself a little bit from the repetitive strain it goes through every day. A good morning stretch can work wonders, a few strengthening exercises focusing on the back might help alleviate pain when you return to work and getting out for some regular exercise, respecting social distancing of course, is as good for the mind as it is for the body.
In moments of the great hardship come moments of great compassion. In Tibetan culture, compassion is the highest expression of humanity and their word for compassion nyingjé translates to ‘king of heart’. It’s been incredible to see compassion flourish as neighbours have been helping each other, communities coming together, and massive numbers of people stepping up to volunteer. If you’re fit and healthy, offer up some time to volunteer. It is not only great for your health, feeding our need to feel purpose and delivering the benefits of compassion, it’s also a good look on your CV for any potential future employers.
It can be tough to navigate through the weeks of isolation with the loss of structure that home isolation brings. No longer do you have a set time to go to work with pre-determined tasks waiting for you when you get there. Creating a daily plan will give you a little structure to your day and help you feel purpose rather than just binging TV, complaining that you’re bored, and then wondering where the day went. You can also engage in your passions outside of hospitality that you stopped doing when you started working 70+ hours a week. (I for one am going to begin getting into the world of sim racing, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time).
My daily plan looks like this. I flex it and don’t beat myself up if I don’t stick to it, but it gives me a guide to help me navigate the day.
These are undoubtedly difficult times for all of us. Choosing to shift our perspective and keep the fear, sadness, and mortality of what’s going on outside the safety of your front door at bay we can grasp the opportunity that we’ve been given with both hands.
Stay home, be well, and look out for each other.
Much love, Tim