Let’s not sugar coat it. The last couple of weeks have been pretty horrendous for most small businesses. The stress and worry of immediate and projected financial loss as a result of coronavirus, coupled with unclear Government support plans for the self employed, have left many of us feeling drained and un-optimistic about the future sustainability of our businesses. For those of us dealing with clients, we’ve also had to take on their worry and anxieties. Dealing with cancellations or postponements of services and sometimes being subjected to unreasonable requests and misplaced entitlement in the process. It’s been a constant, emotionally exhausting rollercoaster.
So far, we’ve got through it. Following a few very intense days, things seem to be, touch wood, calming a little. With that has come a conscious switch in mindset. The uncertainty still lingers on and at some point between the tears and sadness came the acceptance that none of this was in my control. I could only do what I could do. I could only deal with things in a productive way with a positive mindset. Of course, the financial worry is still there. Of course, the sadness that this pandemic has the potential to ruin my business is still there. But at the moment there is still so much unknown that “what if’s” are just stealing my happiness.
I have accepted that I can not control what happens from here in terms of when the country will be up and running again. Therefore all I can do is my best to stay afloat, stay well and to keep those around me well too. I am doing my bit by staying at home.
Coping with Covid-19
Realising that I can choose how I frame the situation and how I respond to things has been a game changer for me. Just as it is not appropriate to say to an anxious person to “stop worrying” as if it will change anything, I appreciate that it is not appropriate to push this ideal as a one size fits all cure. I am not naive enough to believe that this is possible for everyone. We all have our own battles and concerns. But some very real, very deep and very difficult thoughts led me to make a choice. Thankfully, I was in a place mentally where I was able to choose positivity.
Finding things to be thankful for
I have been trying to make a point of finding all of the positives in this situation, for us personally. Here are some of the things I will try to take joy and comfort in, in the weeks and months to come.
As a wedding photographer, we are usually booked solid March – September. The associated editing pile and scattered weddings thereafter then keep us busy well into the winter months and new year. Due to postponements and cancellations, we now have nothing in the diary until at least mid-June. For the first time in almost 10 years we have some time off in summer, without the editing backlog. The thought of being able to enjoy at least part of summer in our own home, in our own garden, without the constant pressure to get back to work in order to stay on top of editing is actually really nice. I genuinely don’t remember what it feels like to sit in the garden on a warm day and not feel the pressure to get back to work.
2. The possibility of finally being able to attend family events once lockdown is lifted. The nature of weddings means that we typically work weekends. Weekends are usually reserved for family events or get togethers as most people work during the week. Because of this, we often have to miss out as we’re working. This year we now have at least 12 extra non-working weekends to look forward to. Hopefully once lockdown is lifted we may be able to enjoy a family get together.
3. More time spent with our dogs. We usually work from home anyway unless we are out shooting, but not having the editing workload means we have more quality time with them. Cuddles, snuggles on the sofa, playtime in the garden. They’re getting older and every minute spent with them indulging their happiness is a minute well spent.
Little reminders- time.
4. The reminder that I actually love what I do. Like any job, there are times when I’ve felt like i’m over it. Times when i’ve not wanted to get up, times when i’ve not wanted to deal with a venue who’s being difficult, times where i’ve felt overworked or unappreciated. After a long time in your job, it’s easy to let those things stack up in your mind. But not being able to do my job has made me realise that I miss it. It’s made me realise that i’m missing all the good stuff too.
5. More time means more opportunity to invest in our business. More time to focus on things we haven’t had the time to before.
6. Having more time to think and being in lockdown naturally seems to make you take a long hard look at yourself. I’ve noticed my own bad habits, poor routines, and previous overspending on food shops and takeaways. If you dwell on those things and punish yourself for them, of course it will get you down- but self awareness can be a really positive tool to help you progress and identify the direction you do want to be headed in. I have been able to re-evaluate my goals this week and differentiate between what I thought I wanted before and what I actually want.
7. Being in lockdown has made me realise we were really wasteful with food before. Due to more limited resources and not being able to pop to the shops, we are making everything last and everything count. We are actively checking which food needs to be eaten first to prevent waste and using leftovers to create new meals. It’s satisfying to use up everything. Before we seemed to buy food for one specific meal idea and then any left overs would usually go to waste. Or we’d have a fridge full of food but get a takeaway or eat out- mostly just to get out of the house. We are enjoying cooking and eating at home and trying lots of things we haven’t before. Moving forward, adopting this new routine this will save us quite a lot of money and prevent a lot of waste!
8. I appreciate my health. Day to day, most of us take it for granted. In a pandemic you can’t help but be grateful for the fact that you’re up and about with a life to live, in spite of everything else you may be worried about. Just a few weeks ago so many people had no idea what was coming and sadly, some wont see the other side of this. So even in moments of stress, I am able to remind myself that I have air in my lungs and that in itself must be appreciated.
9. You appreciate the people in your life and the small things like a hug. We’re all guilty of perhaps not checking in with the people we love as often as we could- whether in person or virtually. Categorically not being able to see them does give you that kick up the bum to reach out. And it reminds you how quick and easy it is, just to send a text. Hopefully these are habits we’ll all maintain and maybe we’ll squeeze one another that bit harder.
10. This whole situation has made me hopeful that businesses will finally start to realise that many of their policies are unnecessary, outdated and are discriminatory. Many, many people are fulfilling their work roles from home, just as professionally and adequately as they would be if they were sat in the office. These people will likely be sitting at home in loungewear with their tattoos out, with their piercings in and with their natural hair as it naturally is- performing just as well as they did when they were forced to cover them, take them out or make their hair look “more professional”. There is of course a time and a place for everything, but irrelevant factors should not prevent people from being hired or viewed as less capable or professional.
11.I have loved the increased sense of community and collective need to protect others. For every idiot who is dismissive or skeptical that this situation is very real and very serious, there are 10 others who are doing their bit.
12. I love that we are collectively being forced to appreciate each other. My god am I thankful for the people stacking shelves and cleaning the hospitals and collecting my household waste. All the day to day jobs that are never celebrated because you don’t need a qualification to do them. Don’t get me wrong, I applaud our NHS and our Teachers and all of the professionals working behind closed doors to find a vaccine. I am so, so thankful for their contributions too. But the fact we’re now being forced to look beyond those traditional positions and appreciate the networks that sustain those roles and our society as a whole is wonderful.
13. I am loving that this situation is encouraging more people to share their talents with the world and come out of their shell. Over the last couple of weeks I have found out that friends I have known for a long time are also artists and singers and talented in areas outside of their primary job role. Many people are in turn sharing their skills and talents with the world, for free, because we can all make the world a brighter place.
Life outside of work
14. I have been forced to realise that work is not everything. For a decade I have made my life my work. I have dedicated myself to my business, working every available hour, every available day. Prioritising it over pretty much anyone and anything else in my life. It has never been a difficult decision or through necessity, it was always a choice and one I don’t regret. But this week I got a wake up call when I realised that my entire business and everything I have worked for, for the last 10 years could be pulled from under me in the blink of an eye by something out of my control. It was a startling realisation truthfully. So perhaps I should build a life that isn’t so one dimensional. Perhaps I should broaden my horizons and live.
Share this story