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With World Mental Health Day on Saturday 10th October, over 6 months into lockdown (who would have thought this in late March?), and hitting a big birthday milestone last week... I thought it would be a good time to sit down and reflect on the ups and downs the last 6 months has brought. It’s been challenging in different ways for all of us – particularly those facing health issues, COVID or otherwise, and for those who have been on the frontline protecting and looking after us – NHS workers, supermarket staff, bin men… the list goes on. Thank you to all those who have kept our country ticking in 2020!

Probably the most difficult thing facing us all at the moment is the simple fact that this isn’t over yet. We don’t know when it will be over. That’s really hard to come to terms with because we’ve all worked hard to distance from our families and friends, dealt with business & job uncertainty and because we’re facing a very different Christmas than what we’re used to.

The biggest business challenge for me has been (and still is) not knowing how long this will go on for. Business owners and managers will know how important forecasting is, and this has been impossible in 2020. As a director of Building Careers I’ve had to make some of the hardest decisions I’ve made in my career. We have had to make a number of redundancies as most companies have – and while I can still say these decisions had to be made and were right for the business, having that conversation with people you sincerely respect and enjoy working with was incredibly hard.

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On a personal note, like many mums and dads have discovered, home-schooling was a huge learning curve and frustration! Turns out Maths homework isn’t easy! Trying to find the right routine for my son Owen was really hard and he struggled to express his feelings and frustrations in such a strange situation. I had to remind myself that we’re all learning in this pandemic together – no one has an instruction manual!

Still, for me, lockdown hasn’t been all doom and gloom. There’s been lots to be thankful for and some of us have made life changing decisions we might never have made without 2020. I’ve learnt this year that life is too short to waste. You need to do what makes you happy and be grateful for what you have! As a family, we learned to cook new recipes together and enjoy each other’s company in a new way. We also decided to support the RSPCA with a number of events – giving my son something to focus his energy on and giving us all a way to think of others. I also took the time to write to the NHS to express my thanks as this felt more genuine than the clapping we did in summer.

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Having extra free time (and less socialising) meant I had time to focus on getting fit. Turning 40 this year, I was dead nervous but I decided to go back to the gym and look after myself. Early in lockdown I engaged with a nutritionist and once gyms opened I started going to spin classes 4 times a week. I’m so proud of this and just hope I can keep it up in winter as I do genuinely feel so much better for it! At the beginning of lockdown when we had a lot of difficult decisions to make as a business, I’d end the day with a glass of wine as many of us do. But then I started to take a serious look at my health and how I was dealing with lockdown and decided to stop drinking. I didn’t touch a drop all summer – anyone who knows me will know what an achievement this is!

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As much as the ringtone for Skype gives me shudders, I also don’t think I could have got through lockdown without my regular calls to Deb and Joanna (who saw me looking awful most days!). Technology has been a huge help in these past months and was the perfect way to see family easily too. If I could give anyone advice for getting through the winter months and whatever more lockdown brings us – it would be to make sure you speak to someone, especially if you’re struggling. If you’re reading this blog and can’t think of who to speak to – I’m here! I’m happy to speak to anyone in confidence if it can help in any way. Don’t bottle up your worries as it won’t help. I’d also say – don’t look to unhealthy food and drink for the answer. Try exercise and healthy cooking, even if you think it’s not for you. There’s something for everyone!

We’ve asked some of our team how they’ve coped in lockdown and asked them to share throughout the week so please look out for those on our company page. I’d love to hear if anyone else has taken away positives from 2020 so far and if any of you branched out to new hobbies, had many challenges or made any big decisions you’re proud of. Please share!

Tam x

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