Have you been hearing a lot of noise about self improvement — professionally and personally — during lockdown 1.0 and 2.0? We get it. A lot of the time, it can be just noise but what we implore you to remember is that those calls for using this downtime wisely are important. Why? Because they’re right. As much as we love the idea of doing nothing for six weeks straight, it’s not sustainable and when we’ve put it into practice, you go stir crazy after about a week.
So instead of doing nothing we encourage you to take advantage of this time at home and do something.
Now, this isn’t a call for excessive action. As much as pouring energy into fine-tuning your business or yourself sounds great, if your cup is empty you have nothing to offer. If you’re feeling burnt out then use this time to work on being gentle on yourself, so you can come out of this lockdown in great shape!
With all this in mind, we’ve compiled the following recommendations on how you can use this downtime as ‘an opportunity to quench all thirsts you have’.
Recommendation #1 — Enjoy “Me Time”
Simple but effective. ‘While it’s important to do what we can to maintain our mental health in times like these…we can do better than just maintain,’ and instead use this downtime to our advantage by introducing new habits.
One such habit is self care and the scientific evidence proves that it works! Forbes reported that “Me Time” helps increase empathy, productivity and creativity, whilst also helping strengthen mental health as you begin to learn more about yourself.
Simple methods to incorporate “Me Time” into your daily routine include setting an hourly alarm to take a five-minute break, setting an alarm to take a 30-minute break, doing a five minute Smiling Mind meditation when you wake-up or when you hop into bed, as well as learning to focus on your breathing. Did you know that ‘The vagus nerve activates the parasympathetic nervous system and basically functions as the button you can press to reduce stress’? By just simply focusing on breathing exercises, you can actively reduce stress!
Other examples of “Me Time” could include:
- A bath with a little bit of luxury like a Lush bath bomb
- Stretch out your body for five minutes
- Listen to a Calm bedtime story
- Read for 30 minutes a day and/or join a book club
- Catch up on that Netflix tv show your friends have been telling you about
- Practice kind and constructive self talk, including gratitude and reflection
- Cleaning (if it gives you joy and offers peace)
- Channel your Marie Kondo and re-organise or simply just organise
If you need guidance on how to successfully introduce a new routine, click here.
You deserve to be gentle on yourself. Especially right now. Don’t use this time to just maintain your wellbeing. Use this time to actively strengthen your mental and physical health.
Recommendation #2 — Develop Meaningful Relationships
Personally or professionally, there is little that can surpass meaningful relationships. ScienceDaily has noted that ‘Deep and meaningful relationships play a vital role in overall well-being.’
‘Past research has shown that individuals with supportive and rewarding relationships have better mental health, higher levels of subjective well-being and lower rates of morbidity and mortality.’
Although we’re social distancing, this doesn’t stop us from actually being social. In fact, this downtime might be the perfect opportunity to rekindle an old relationship you’ve put on the backburner.
Registered psychologist Tunteeya Yamaoka reported to ABC News that “There’s a sense of solidarity in being miserable together. Everybody can empathise with each other because we are in the same situation.”
How does one stay social though? Spark some creativity by:
- Organising a Zoom call — it could be for a one-on-one or a group session
- Remember you can enjoy more than Zoom’s free 45 minutes with something like Google Hangouts or even Facebook Messenger
- Make your virtual hangout fun by checking out these games
- Trivia anyone? Engage with your friends over a friendly trivia battle where you flex your knowledge muscles
Recommendation #3 — Become Financially Literate
If there’s one thing you do in your downtime, make it this. Financial literacy is vital, personally and professionally. It helps you thrive and survive, ensuring you’re both accountable and responsible for the way you spend, earn and save money.
If we start at Ground 0, you can learn more about financial literacy by visiting MoneySmart. Designed to educate students, MoneySmart’s guides and courses are free, online and easy to use.
Natalie Torres-Haddad recommends dedicating just 15–20 minutes a day to learning about finance like you would a foreign language. Her top three tips on gaining financial literacy are to understand what you earn vs. what you spend, know your credit score and understand how much debt you carry.
Click below to watch her TED Talk to learn more about her recommendations on financial literacy.
We also strongly recommend listening to podcasts like She’s On The Money. Produced to foster a positive environment that educates specifically women on financial literacy, She’s On The Money also offers a Facebook group for members to seek financial help and guidance.
Recommendation #4 — Hone A Skill
Oo boy, you bet we’re going to recommend honing a current or new skill during your downtime. Why? Well, the better question is why not? Seriously, why not learn something totally new and totally different? Stop answering the question “what’s new” with “not much”. Reinvigorate yourself and the conversation by learning something new that sets your heart on fire!
This new skill could be for your personal or professional benefit. Actually, we take that back. Any skill you learn in your personal life will reap wonderful benefits in your professional life and vice versa.
But what do you want to learn? Good question. This decision is inherently personal, regardless of a flippant or spur of the moment choice. Is there a language you want to learn? Have you been watching Outlander or Killing Eve and could think of nothing better than learning Scottish or Russian? Maybe Latin is right up your alley to complement your love of gardening and the Latin name for each plant you’ve potted? Check out Duolingo or even some online courses courtesy of Open Universities Australia.
Spark your creative side with free online classes like the Glen Eira City Council’s iSEWlation!
How about fitness? Something you’re interested in? Work out from the comfort of home, without the feeling of eyes on you with online resources including CorePlus Connected, Centr, Australian Ballet or even free workout plans via Instagram accounts like Damon Bell or Enterprise Fitness.
We’ve even seen a 24.5% increase in motorbike sales, as people just like you seek to rekindle a skill they set aside. The choices are endless. There’s no shame or judgement here — choose what you love, what you’re interested in or what challenges you!
Whatever sets your heart alight — do it.
Recommendation #5 — Give Yourself Or Your Business An Audit
Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean you pay an accountant to audit your finances. It can do if you inherently feel like that’s what you need. What we mean by “audit” is moreso using this downtime to reflect. Look at your business or yourself and ask the hard hitting questions.
How can I improve?
What problem does my business solve?
What are my weaknesses?
What trends should I watch, follow or put into practice?
Forbes interviewed a variety of small businesses and found that in response to COVID-19 one business saw a 49% increase in online sales. They then invested in a Google Shop which increased sales further by 15%! Now is the time to ask questions. It’s all about the pivot. Temporary or permanent, reflection and change offers you or your business the strength of adaptability and flexibility.
Areas for improvement that Forbes noted had helped entrepreneurs succeed include:
- Raising your sustainability profile
- Getting online and virtual
- Improving your reputation and skillset
- Attaining more visibility (think PR)
- Discovering new technologies
We also recommend asking yourself why you’re here in this present moment. Why are you working so hard?
What was the original goal?
Has that goal changed?
There’s obviously no right or wrong answer but by asking the questions and reflecting, you afford yourself the opportunity to pause and change.
Remember, although it sounds great on paper to do something during this downtime, if your business or body is calling for the complete opposite, that’s okay! Take this opportunity to ask yourself what you want and need right now. It might surprise you.