I have just returned from a few days off. Nothing unusual in this normally but I don’t think I realised quite how much I actually needed some time to switch off, away from emails and Zoom meetings, and just re-charge. I may not have gone ‘away’ physically but mentally I did just that and the power of a break is just so beneficial to our wellbeing.

As a business and as individuals, we have all been through such turmoil in the last four months. We have totally changed our daily routine, many have had children at home instead of at school, and many have had partners, colleagues, friends or family impacted either health-wise or financially. It has been an extraordinary time.

Mostly we are programmed to just ‘get on with it’ and accept everything that life throws at us. We stay upright, stoical and accepting and put on a brave face when we are exhausted, unhappy, struggling, juggling and worried. We are husbands, wives, partners, mothers, fathers, daughters, sons and friends. So many of us feel that we are defined by our jobs and by our roles at home, rarely do we allow ourselves to be just ‘us’. We are conditioned to look after others rather than ourselves. However, remember the rule about being in an aircraft emergency? Put on your own mask before helping others. That way you will be okay and you will be in a better position to help others.

There are real positives to this time though, we just need to seek them out. Many of us are now working fewer hours so we have the gift of actual time, and it really is a gift. Our working lives are usually jam-packed Monday to Friday at least and often over the weekend as well. Now, as our business is paused, we want everyone to take the opportunity to only work on what is relevant and absolutely necessary. When we focus on what truly matters we are much more productive.

We have deliberately kept everyone’s full holiday entitlement so they can really take some time out. Take this time to start a new hobby; exercise your mind as well as your body; read books and newspapers; play with your children; cook a special meal and really be present in your home instead of having half a mind on work. It’s all too easy to spend the evening half listening to the television and half focused on emails but if you disconnect, quite literally, you’ll find a whole new focus.

In a team meeting last week one person said they had taken up paddle-boarding and another had started wild swimming on a Friday. They both said that initially they felt guilty for leaving the house and their laptop for a few hours, and scared about starting something new, doing something which was just for them, but they soon felt invigorated and refreshed and so able to give more of themselves to others as a result.

As lockdown eases many people are still nervous about going out or going on holiday. That’s entirely normal, we need time to adjust to our individual ‘new normal’. Others are desperate to see family and friends and go to the pub and that’s fine too.

Also as some remain on sabbatical, or some return to work after a period of furlough, it can be tough. I have spoken to quite a few people who feel they have lost confidence and belief in themselves and found it especially hard without the usual support network in the office.

As it is likely that we will be working at home for a while we will all need to pull together and share what we do know with each other. As departments have diminished, or been removed altogether, we need to work out how we will operate in the future once we resume sailing. You may get asked questions or to support with tasks which weren’t part of your role, but if you can help, or have some knowledge that could be useful, then we should share and help each other to find roadmaps to our new ways of working.

So my message for this month is a simple but very important one. Look after yourself, be gentle, be kind and give yourself some time and space to recharge. Who knows – we could even have a future champion paddle boarder amongst us!

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