9 ideas for maintaining morale, with resources to help

Words by Sarah Lewis, C.Psychol., Appreciating Change

How are you finding lockdown?  As the restrictions continue many people are feeling more anxious than they usually would.  And there’s a risk of adownward cycle of worry, lethargy and depression. We can’t make the virus disappear but what we can do is boost our resilience, finding ways to keep our spirits up.  

Two principles are particularly useful. First, managing anxiety takes mental strength and energy, if we don’t actively recharge, we will become depleted.  Secondly the state of our morale affects the state of our immune system (At this point I have to say this doesn’t mean that anyone who becomes ill wasn’t positive enough!). So, if we pro-actively attend to our morale, we are also pro-actively attending to our health.

Here are some ideas to help manage anxiety and build resilience:

Laughter

There is lots of evidence that laughing is good for us and for our immune system. Whatever rocks your funny bone. Remember, coronavirus may be no laughing matter, but we don’t have to be solemn to be serious. Laughing is a good coping mechanism. My favourite YouTube video, which seems particularly apt at this time, is Tripp and Tyler: A Conference Call in Real Life. It makes me laugh every time.

A quick note on a form of humour that tends to arise during the most challenging of times, specifically ‘gallows’ humour. Laughter reduces threats to size. Be aware though, it doesn’t travel; it is very specific to the moment. Use with caution and only with those with a similar mordant sense of humour.

Blessings

The new science of positive psychology has proved the benefits of the old adage of counting your blessings. There is an exercise known as the ‘three good things’. At the end of each day, identify three good things that have happened during the day. It’sgood practice to write them down. Doing this regularly helps train your brain to look for the positives amongst the gloom, to find the silver linings, if you like.

For instance, perhaps you saw a report in the paper on the positive effect of the lockdown for wildlife. You can find lots of similar proven exercises in Vanessa Keys excellent book: 10 keys to happier living. Based on science, written for everyone, it is full of ideas for boosting your mood.

Manage your news feed and other anxiety amplifiers

We are being offered 24-hour, worldwide updates. Following this minute-by-minute is not likely to do you any good. You can’t influence things other than by taking the sensible precautions we’ve all been told about. So, take positive control and limit your daily diet. You might choose to read rather than watch the news. One benefit of this is that there is less ‘emotional contagion’ from the written word than from a person’s voice, so less transmission of anxiety.

What we want to do is replace anxiety with optimism. Two great resources with ideas about how to do this are Happy Brain Science’s Happiness at Work’ game and ‘Positran’s Positive Action Cards’.Happiness at work contains over 100 science-based ideas for how to change mood or deal with some common work challenges such as ‘I work remotely, rarely seeing colleagues face to face’. While the positive action cards, also science-based, give easy to follow instructions for over sixty ways to increase your well-being.

Get out of yourself and into flow

Just ‘not thinking about it’ is hard, we need to find things that take us out of ourselves. When we are completely absorbed in things we are in a state of ‘flow’ and when we are in this state, we are not focused on our feelings. It’s like getting a holiday from your worried self.

Perhaps cooking, exercise or a hobby will work for you. Sometimes it’s hard to get yourself over the initial hump into the activity, but once you’ve started to apply yourself, time falls away.

The book, ‘Positive Psychology at Work’ explains flow and other positive psychology concepts that might be useful right now. ‘Positive Organizational Development cards’ take twenty of the key positive psychology concepts, including flow, and give you questions to help you explore them and brief ideas for action. Or you can go straight to the master’s voice and get Csikszentmihalyi’s classic book, ‘Flow’.

Good food and exercise

You are no longer at the mercy of the snack bars, train trolleys, airline catering etc. as you skedaddle from one place to another. Make the most of it to eat healthily. Lots of fruit and vegetables are good for immune system. Exercise is very important to both mental and physical health. You know the rules about keeping your distance. Put your face mask on and get out there and yomp for an hour somewhere green.

Alternatively you might want to try Jo Wicks ‘Seven days of sweat’. You could treat it as a way of socialising and take part online with friends as you all log on at the same time.


Have projects
to pull you forward

‘Wise people’, someone once said ‘prepare for the worse while hoping for the best’. Once you’ve done what you can to prepare for the worse, then turn your energy to hoping for the best.

Starting projects suggests an optimism about the future that becomes self-reinforcing. Uncertainty can act to paralyse us. By pro-actively starting a project we can break out of that paralysis. The hardest part is getting started, but once you do it will draw you forward. Apart from total house rearrangement, I’vestarted a new tapestry kit. These take me years to complete. But every evening I can admire the couple of square inches I’ve completed and feel I’m making progress.

Positran do another great set of cards called ‘Positive Transformation Cards’. They are resilience building cards, full of uplifting quotes and insightful questions to help you boost your optimism, hopefulness, and self-confidence in a mindful way.

Coach yourself

If you are feeling really stuck, and your thinking is just going round-and-round in circles then you may need to take a more structured approach to pull yourself out of the mire. Usually we can rely on informal chats with colleagues to stimulate our thinking or for ideas that haven’t occurred to us. Sometimes we just need to be asked a question that gives us a different take on the subject or causes us to make a new connection. You may already have a coach who can help you, but if not, people often self-coach. Self-coaching helps move you into a more productive self-talk, that allows you find unexpected ways forward.

‘At My Best’ offer an excellent selection of forty-eight coaching questions in their ‘Good Question Card’ pack. Alternatively, there is a set of six Coaching Cubes with thirty-six questions, based on the PRISM coaching model, that you roll like dice, introducing an element of randomness and chance into the questions you’re asked.

Call a friend

Social contact also is very important to our wellbeing. Even if you are in lockdown with loved ones it’s good to talk to other people. I recommend you phone, Zoom, Skype, Facetime etc at least one person every day. You might want to talk about the situation, that’s fine. However, I suggest you also ask them about their plans for the day, what they are hoping to achieve during this period of lockdown. In other words, try to help them see a silver lining. Ideally you will both come away from the phone call feeling slightly better not even worse!

Practice Appreciative Living

This tip takes us almost full circle. Appreciative Living, which is based on Appreciative Inquiry, is all about seeing and seeking out the best of life. We can’t deny the reality of a worldwide threat to our whole way of life, but we can still appreciate the things that make life worth living, today. Developing an appreciative eye, especially in times such as these, takes practice and isn’t always easy, but the benefit to our health, well-being, state of mind and ability to remain pro-active in the face of threat, in fact to our resilience, is beyond question. Keeping doing all the things you need to do to stay safe, and start living appreciatively at the same time.

Jackie Kelm is the guru of Appreciative Living, you can find her videos on YouTube and her latest book, Appreciative Living, on Amazon. Or try the Appreciative Inquiry card pack, with pictures, quotes and questions. Or you might find Appreciative Inquiry for Change Management by Lewis, Passmore and Cantore of interest for a more work orientated explanation.

Lockdown is a new experience and as restrictions of some kind may continue for a while it is important to look after yourself, manage anxiety and build resilience.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah Lewis C.Psychol., is the principal psychologist at Appreciating Change, a strengths-based psychological consultancy that is committed to applying well-researched positive psychology ideas and interventions to workplace challenges and opportunities at an individual, team or whole organization level.

Sarah is an associated fellow of the British Psychological Society, a principal member of the Association of Business Psychologists, and a member of the International Positive Psychology Association.

Sarah is an acknowledged Appreciative Inquiry and Positive Psychology expert, a regular conference presenter and author of ‘Positive Psychology at Work’ (Wiley), Positive Psychology and Change (Wiley), ‘Appreciative Inquiry for Change Management’ (KoganPage) and Positive Psychology in Business (Pavilion).

She also collects great positive psychology resources to support consultants, trainers and coaches in their work which are sold through the Positive Psychology online shop. https://www.thepositivepsychologyshop.com/

Web: https://acukltd.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sarahlewis1

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarahlewis1

Something To Watch This Weekend #2

Words by Cameron McLauchlan

Welcome to another lockdown edition of Something To Watch This Weekend, the lockdown specific series where weve swapped shopping for streaming. We hope this list will help you get through what is this rumoured to be the final weekend of the strongest lockdown measures (in the UK). Let’s crack on with the list!

1) After Life – 2020 – Netflix (15)

With season 2 of the show only releasing a couple of weeks ago (24th of April) its an incredibly easy series to get up to speed with.

The dark comedy features Ricky Gervais as the main character, a man who has sadly lost his wife to cancer. Tragically left to continue by himself and Brandy, his female German-Shepherd.

Having been written and directed by Ricky Gervais, the storyline whilst featuring scenes which will make most cry, are equally balanced by moments which can make you laugh just as much if not more. Centred around the village in which he lives, the story develops to render some hilarious moments during his characters darkest scenes. The writing is truly some of Gervaisbest work, a statement which should not be made lightly given his previous success.

After Life is available exclusively on Netflix and due to the popularity of the newly released second series, Gervais has already announced a third series is in the works! A testament to how good the show really is.

2) Star Wars : The Rise of The Sky Walker (2019) – 12A

The last film to join the most recent trilogy is out on all platforms now. A film which I regrettably failed to make it to my local cinema to see, at the tail end of last year. The Rise of The Skywalker is no different to any previous film, an action packed, space-thrill ride which nicely rounds off the entire Star Wars franchise to date.

The final film, in this phase of Star Wars features familiar faces from the previous two installations  such as Rey, Finn and Kylo as well as the legends of the franchise – Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia.

The film is typical Star Wars through and through with incredible actions scenes, laughter and plot twists. The clanger twist is saved until last, arriving at the very end of the film, a scene which sees one of the franchises darkest characters make return. This is a must watch if you havent already to get you over the line this weekend!

3)  The Man From U.N.C.L.E (2015) – Netflix (12A)

How a follow up film hasnt been made yet I dont know. Fresh on the Netflix recently added list, this Guy Ritchie film is an incredibly enjoyable watch. The plot is centred around CIA agent Solo (Henry Cavill) and KGB agent Illya (Armie Hammer), who are forced to come together in an effort to prevent nuclear warfare.

The film in true Guy Ritchie style is filled with brilliant action sequences. The settings and scenes do a great job of building the 1960s world in which the film is set. Speaking completely subjectively as a die hard bond fan, this film is good enough to rival some bond movies and offers a similar feeling to that of a bond film. Theres just an extra leading character.

If you’re struggling to decide on something to watch this weekend, this film is easily one to dive straight into. You wont be disappointed.

4) We Are The Millers (2013) – ITV2 – (15)

I often forget that there are still some some really decent shows and films on normal television.

Starting at 9.00PM this Saturday on ITV2, We Are The Miller is a hilarious film for all to watch. If the kids arent too young!

Starring Jennifer Anniston, Jason Sudeikis and Will Poulter. The plot surrounds the story of a random collection of individuals which (in order to make a sum of money) have to travel to Mexico in an RV acting as a legitimate family.

In true comedy style, the journey there and back is loaded with eye-watering scenes in more ways than one. This films is perfect for a Saturday night infant of the telly to capitulate what will hopefully be the last weekend of the current lockdown conditions!

We hope all of our readers have stayed safe, happy and well during the unprecedented time and hope the list above will get you through and your loved ones through this weekend one way or another!

Until next time.

BIRTHDAY GIFTING GUIDE DURING QUARANTINE

Words by Emily Regan

As we find ourselves in a time where our retail habits, needs and wants are severely restricted, to say the least, all the while the traditional calendar is just whizzing by around us. I mean can you believe today is the 94th of March, who knew ? Go figure that?  Now in all honesty, our social lives might be duller than a mid November day, but we all know someone, friend, relative or partner that have had to “celebrate” a birthday in lockdown. With this in mind let us present to you our guide to smart gifts for HE and SHE’ that you can order online this quarantine.

THE MAKE – UP LOVER...

GLOSSY BEAUTY BOX SUBSCRIPTION

This is the perfect birthday gift for any make-up fanatic. The service allows you to choose from a 1, 3, 6 or 12 month subscription package.

Each month, 5 new beauty products are delivered to the doorstep in gorgeous iconic pink boxes. This is the ideal gift during quarantine, especially if you can’t colour match shades right now.

GlossyBox is one of the only beauty box services that allows you to purchase a one-month subscription online.

A gift that keeps on giving, with new cosmetic products and classic old favourites too, pay as little as £10 and then leave the hard work to GlossyBox.

The fashion obsessed…

Personalised gift card

The high-street is closed and online fashion purchases are increasing day by day.

Guessing sizes and returning retail gifts can be a struggle at the best of times so gift a fashion fix with a zara gift card.

At a time like this personalisation can lift spirits and a physical zara gift card can be purchased online to be sent to the recipients’ doorstep. The site allows you to type a message which is great for those spending their birthday’s isolating!

The gift card is delivered in a luxury embossed silver box. The service allows you to choose a delivery date in advance and top-up starts at £20.  

Zara also offer E-Giftcards but who doesn’t get excited when they receive a parcel at the door

THE GYM GOER…

NIKE SKIPPING ROPE

The gym is closed and home workouts are becoming the new it-thing to do.

Introduce the ‘Nike training skipping rope’ into their routine. Great for upper body strength, reps and repeats. This product is the quintessential addition to a morning workout!

The handles are cushioned for comfort and the rope comes with an Allen key to enable length adjustments. Available for £17.00 from ASOS.

Sleep, eat, rep and repeat your way through a lockdown birthday.


THE TECH WIZZ…

JOHN LEWIS CABLE TIDY BAG

Ever ask yourself… What don’t they have?!

Do you buy them chocolates and socks every single year because you know they already own every gadget under the sun?

Switch it up with this smart and sophisticated cable tidy bag. This travel-friendly zip-up case makes transporting cables easy and organised.  

This practical product comes in black or brown and a Tech-Wizz can never have too many of these cases. 

The case is available to buy online from John Lewis and retails at just £30, maybe it will persuade them to sort out their cable collection during the lockdown.

THE GARDENER...

‘HOW TO HOUSE PLANT’ BOOK

During lockdown most garden centres have closed their doors, so for this gift, it was all about thinking outside the box.

This read will be educated on how to start and nurture inside plants. With beautiful illustrations and a light-hearted approach, this book is a gorgeous gift for any garden- lover, male or female.

Priced at £14.99, ‘how to house plant’ is available to purchase online at Oliver Bonas, who offer gift-wrapping services to make quarantine presents feel a little more special

THE SKIN – CARE ENTHUSIAST…

GLOSSIER SUPER DUO

Let’s face it … they already have their ride or die products so spending your coins on a new cleanser or moisturiser can be risky, right?

Glossier is a back to basics brand which really hit the mark with their crisp aesthetic and attention to detail.

‘The super duo’ is the perfect fix, serums can be swapped in and out of religious skincare routines and this pair layer to keep the skin hydrated and glowing.

Ingredients include hyaluronic acid, vitamin b5 serum, vitamin c and magnesium serum. Buying the pair saves you 20% at a reasonable price of £38.

Quarantine skin is real, so this is the perfect ‘pick me up’ product

HE FOOTBALL DEVOTEE…

ARGOS FOOTBALL FLICK URBAN CORNER SHOT TOP BINS GOAL SKILLS SET

There’s already a goal in the garden and every-time the football gets close to the windows you shiver inside. Let’s get their aim game on…

The ‘football flick urban corner shot top bins goal skills set’ from Argos will do just the job, made from durable plastic this pack of 2 is designed to withstand heavy impact, allowing for hours of practice during the quarantine period.

The set is priced at £29,99 and various credit plans are available. Have your order delivered to your door or pick it up in your local Sainsburys at the Argos collection point whilst doing your weekly quarantine food shop!

THE SWEET – TREAT BAKER…

HONEYWELL BISCUIT CO SUBSCRIPTIONS

It is so important to support small –businesses with the current situation and Honeywell Biscuit Co have some of the most talented and experienced bakers in the UK.

The company is famously known for its personalised biscuits which include hand-illustrated intricate icing designs.

Although they do provide bespoke services, these are currently delayed due to Covid-19 safety precautions, however, they offer a huge range of ‘off the shelf’ birthday designs.  

To top it all off, Honeywell Biscuits offer ‘bake it yourself’ subscription services, ranges include ‘family baking’, ‘freak-shake making’ and ‘perfectly iced’.

This is the perfect gift for any budding – baker looking to learn new techniques during isolation. Subscription boxes complete with ingredients and instructions are delivered monthly and where possible gorgeous, top quality letter-box packaging is used.

Prices range from £19.99 a month to £190 annual subscriptions.

Everybody’s doing it, doing it, doing it – The Skinhead

While we are in this period of social isolation, we are all having to come to terms with everyday things we just took for granted prior to this, retail therapy, going for a drink with friends, getting your hair cut and as a result of this, A LOT of us are turning to a spot of DIY. Now, when I say DIY, to be more accurate I mean GSETDI, as in Get Someone Else To Do It, and the case in question is Haircuts. Yes, we are trusting our nearest and dearest with hair clippers, even though they have never so much as touched a set of hair clippers before, we are turning to them, for a low maintenance option of a Skinhead. In fact, the number of male hair clippers sold was up +228.2% for 5-11 April compared to the same week last year, with value growth of +320.7%. Although this is a lower figure than we saw during the peak in the two weeks before, the average selling price remains on an upward trend week-by-week.

With this in mind, we are seeing a real trend out there for GSETDI when it comes to our hair maintenance, over the last couple of weeks alone we’ve seen the likes of Christiano Ronaldo, Mark Wright, Kelvin Fletcher and even Mr David Beckham returning to his skinhead roots, although I really couldn’t see Posh with a set of Clipper in one hand and asking David if a 1 is too short, can you?

Kelly Whitwick, UK Retail Lead for Market Insights at Research company GfK, comments, “The increased price points for both shavers and hair clippers indicates a transition from the focus on ‘survival’ shopping that we saw in the first weeks of lockdown, into a ‘cocooning’ phase. People are accommodating themselves to the new reality and are increasingly making aspirational purchases within these limits, rather than just survival purchases.”

Meet the online retailer exclusively selling A-Z eco-friendly products to eco-conscious consumers

Say “Hello” to a new platform exclusively selling a range of eco-friendly products from A-Z.

With all expert opinion claiming many aspects of how we lived our lives prior to the Covid19 pandemic being different once we come out on the other side, whether that be travel and tourism, the way we work in our careers to retailing in every aspect from food to fashion, General conscientious, is our lives will be different in many ways.

New Footprint is a platform that connects eco-friendly consumers with eco-friendly businesses, simple idea, yeah? Having all these incredible products in one place makes them easier to find, easier to order, and levels the playing field for eco-retailers who don’t want to run their own website or who would otherwise struggle to gain brand awareness.

New Footprint foundations began with the important mission of creating a one-stop-shop for sustainable and cost-effective products – everything you’d need to live an environmentally-friendly and eco-conscious lifestyle, all important in the new normal life we will be leading in this new world order, just hopefully not in an Orwellian style.

Products available on their online shop range from organic clothing to dinnerware made from leaves, to guilt-free grooming products and essentially everything in between. Major brands creating waves within their respective industries are listed on New Footprint including Bru Cups (voted on the top 10 best re-useable coffee cups), so given a whirl and feel good about a spot of retail therapy.