The COVID-19 pandemic has surged through the globe, affecting thousands of people and the world economy in a matter of weeks.
I am reading the countless advisories in the news and social media on how to stay safe; what to do if you have symptoms; services that have shut down and of course, where toilet paper may be available – nowhere!
It is March break and many school boards across Canada have announced closures until at least the first week of April. Social distancing is heavily advised (which means no playdates for kids) as well as working from home where possible, and avoiding large gatherings. These conditions are not easy at the best of times, and if you have little children looking for constant entertainment and stimulation, there is an added challenge.
Small businesses are suffering and temporary layoffs have become a reality. With a recession being predicted, it is hard to stay calm and not worry about the future.
Most of us will have the pressure to continue working from home, and if you have a household like mine, you will be trying to work around [three] young children. This may lead to frustration and low productivity.
As professionals, we are used to working hard and producing results. We are trying to work alongside a pandemic causing the death and illness of many people around the world. As responsible citizens, we are trying our best to contain ourselves and work with limited resources, as many services continue to close until further notice.
At a time like this, staying positive is easier said than done. However, it is important to look after ourselves, and our mental wellbeing. We are rarely asked by our government to shut ourselves away from society for a few weeks. Perhaps now, we have an opportunity to take stock and do something to create a positive environment around ourselves, (and our children). Instead of feeling the frustration of not being able to continue business as usual, we finally have a chance to pursue something we never get a chance to do. In an article by the Harvard Business Review, The Unexpected Benefits of Pursuing a Passion Outside of Work, studies suggest that there are many benefits to pursuing your “passion” outside of work. Having an extra-curricular activity outside of work, helps us to decompress and energise, which in return helps productivity at work.
Outside of my own legal career, I spent a lot of my time as an artist. I took commissions from family and friend for oil paintings; I trained as a silversmith and exhibited my jewellery to the public; and more recently, (heavily influenced by my kids) I took to decorating baked goods. It was my down time even though I did most of it around my children and got them involved. Being creative made me feel less anxious and gave me the ability to cope better in a stressful environment. Despite a busy household, I kept hammering away to maintain something that was fulfilling for me.
As a mediator, one of the most common remarks I receive from clients, is how they liked the level of creativity I offer during the negotiation and settlement stage. Perhaps the Harvard study is on point!
Whether you are young or old, busy or bored, I find there is always a benefit to starting something you always wondered about. Perhaps pick up that guitar again, a spatula or start that little renovation project you know you can handle. After all, we all work hard and when this pandemic eases off, it will be a rat race to get back up to speed, so we may as well take stock if we have the opportunity to do so.
So, now you know my passion outside of work, what is yours?
The Unexpected Benefits of Pursuing a Passion Outside of Work – Harvard Business Review