• Nicki

The psychology of lockdown

Before I start this blog, let's be clear. I'm not a psychologist, counsellor or any other mental health professional so I will put a link below to some mental health resources.

Now that the disclaimer is over and done with, let's talk about lockdowns. And specifically the impact that lockdowns have on the people working in our teams and workplaces, and what we can do.

I am in a really interesting position to observe some of the current global pandemic outcomes such as lockdowns, closures and stand-downs. I am part of a global network of HR professionals that meet once a week to share best practice from around the globe.... a practice that has been going on for far longer than COVID.

I am in sunny Australia, whereas the rest of the team is predominantly European based, being located in the UK, Sweden, Germany, France, Spain and other such wonderful places.

Some of my colleagues have been in hard lockdowns for over 6 months now, and haven't stepped foot inside their workplaces for longer than that! Depression, desperation, anxiety, fatigue are all regular talking points amongst those who have been housebound with their families for the better part of a year. The elation experienced when a relaxation of restrictions is announced can border on mania at times. People have missed funerals, birthdays, weddings. They have loved ones with COVID. Relationships have broken down.

I was describing our snap 3-day lockdown in Brisbane to the team, the second 3-day lockdown we've in in 3 months. Thinking that the team would scoff and say '3 days? That's nothing!', I was conscious of not making a big deal out of it (despite my real internal struggle). What surprised me was how many of my dear colleagues empathised, and confessed that they would find the threat of jumping in and out of lockdown much more anxiety inducing than their reality of consistent enforced lockdown.

It made me think..... as HR professionals, business owners and leaders, we are expected to be empathetic (just look at the Australian Government's empathy training debacle!). But so often we aren't, or we don't share our empathy with the person who needs it. In this current global environment, there is no place for one-upmanship in suffering. It's not about who has it worse, or who was in lockdown the longest. It's not up to us to decide whether someone should 'be grateful their situation isn't worse'. It's our job to be available and to listen and to make sure that we are not deciding what feelings are valid for someone else.

During something like this pandemic, something that we hopefully won't experience again in our lifetimes, it is important that we continue to work on our empathising skills. Really ask how your friends and colleagues are going. And when they tell you, remember that you don't own the rights to how someone should feel. All feelings are valid. And we should let people feel them, openly and safely.

How do you promote and enhance your empathy skills?

(If you or a loved one is suffering and needs additional support you can contact local assistance by visiting this page https://checkpointorg.com/global/ )

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