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"Survival is the ability to swim in strange waters"​

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After weeks of self-isolation, social media seems to suggest that the country has into two main camps. Those who are resentful and can't wait to get back to the old normal and those who have embraced this period and have used this hiatus for their advantage. However, when I talk to people and question them further, I believe that most people are really just working it out day to day.

One of the issues of a "new normal" is that for some the days seem never changing and for others they don't really know what tomorrow is going to bring. We have a large working population who are either working from home, furloughed or made redundant. Those who are still working as essential workers worry constantly about staying safe and not taking COVID-19 home to their families. Here is an ad verbatim message I got a few weeks ago from one of my staff when I asked her to let me know how the days are going:

"So it is Saturday morning ..... I woke before 6 am bright as a button and ready for the day/shift ahead. Washing out by 6.30 am; tea in the slow cooker by 6.45 am; out by 7 am on the road to yet another day of the unknown ....with a big smile on my face but in fact my arse is hanging out.

The fear of stepping into my own work place trying to keep the staff, the CUSTOMERS and myself safe! My skin on my hands is now all broken and sore; I am out every hour disinfecting the handles on the pumps to make everything safe.

I ask as a boss but also a MAM .... please don't just come for a ride out to pump a tyre up, or to wash your car or put £5 worth of fuel in. If you don't have to come out, don't !!

Please stay at home (in your own home) with your loved ones! I write this as I stepped right back to let a youth out of the door today and he told me to use the other door if I had a problem!!!! I've got to say that I stayed professional ......some mid 20 year old kids are just not getting it! So I feel the need to do as the picture below suggest"

There were plenty of emojis attached but it was the intensity of the emotion and simple, straight forward language that made me gasp a bit. This was her new normal but she didn't know how she would survive it. However, she is still going strong, with a smile on her face and an attitude that is admirable. She is scared but she isn't going to let that stop her; she loves her job but she is going to make it as safe as possible; she isn't intimidated by people who have no common sense and she is not going to let them break the rules. She will go home safe to her family! That is how she will survive in her strange waters.

The issue here is not that we should all follow her example but more that we need to find our own way - not the right way from some manual but something that works for us. We all have different emotional needs. I know someone who lives on her own and is a high flying executive who said:

"To be honest, I'm struggling to understand why people are finding it so hard to just sit inside - we're not asking a lot. Someone asked me how my isolation was going. My response - to be honest it's not different to my normal life except I don't go to work and I don't get to the beach. Other than that life as normal!"

That is her life but it isn't the same as yours.

You have to do what you need to to get through!

One of the most interesting thing about people is their resilience and capacity to not only survive but thrive in adversity. However, they have to be strong enough to stand up to the bearers of doom and gloom and not everyone has that capacity. For some it feeds their fears and makes the world a terrible place. For others such as domestic violence victims, their world is already a frightening place and there may be nothing they can do to change their thoughts and feelings. They are already survivors and do whatever they need to.

I am not offering solutions. I am not qualified to do so and nor do I believe that I have any.

What I do know is that we can all find our own way to swim in strange waters if we are kind to ourselves. We need to allow ourselves to make mistakes - many mistakes if necessary - and look for our answers in the things that give us joy and hope!

In this unusual time, we need to reach out to each other and value everything we have. We need to take our strength from wherever we find it and not be ashamed of that. We are not supposed to be superhuman and for a long time it has been considered a great weakness to acknowledge you need help. That is absolute rubbish! The strongest people I know have always asked for help. As a final thought I will say:

Do as Dory did " Just keep swimming!"
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