Many of us have been working at home for several months now under lots of different circumstances.
In March, with the first national lockdown it felt like a bit of a shock to the system knowing that we would be working from home for an unknown time. Now that we have been working this way for more than 9 months and it seems likely for at least the next few months we’ve all been finding different ways to deal with the impact of the pandemic.
Obviously, like many others across government and public services, we have a huge responsibility to focus and continue to work on the ongoing delivery of services to our users in these times.
For the first few months of working remotely, most of my energy (along with many others!) was focussed on that and I didn’t really feel like I had any headspace to really process any personal impact. I live with my little dog, Daphne, and the first few months were pretty hard going but not as hard as for many people.
I’m really lucky, as I think many of us are at MoJ, in that I’m part of a supportive team and I felt that I was able to share my anxiety about suddenly being pretty much confined to the house, alone. The team was great and we talked quite openly about it. They’ve been checking in on me ‘out of hours'’ and that’s been great. I highly value that we can be that honest with each other.
Personally, I’ve found the past couple of months quite difficult for a few reasons:
- Pandemic fatigue - if that’s a thing. It’s just felt relentless and I have friends and family who were then in Tier 3 restrictions since July. We absolutely must do what is right and follow the guidance but I’m very much looking forward to meeting my newborn niece, Valentina. She’s quite cute even though she’s not a puppy.
- I miss seeing colleagues and friends in real life at work - a lot of my work is based on building relationships with people, having the unplanned conversations in the office and tea and cake!
- I’ve recently become the Mental Health Champion in D&T and I’m very excited about this. Although this has come at a time that has felt particularly challenging personally and when I’ve felt quite overwhelmed, I’m trying to take this in my stride and do the best I can when I can. There’s a great team of mental health allies in our group and we are planning some good things for next year.
I’ve been doing a couple of things to help deal with the ongoing pandemic and restrictions on our lives:
- Initially going to the office occasionally (and when allowed) and seeing colleagues. I have a real new found fondness for 102 Petty France and going there was really beneficial for my mental health. Though I appreciated it was harder for others with very long commutes and anxiety and concerns about the trains, etc.
- Keeping to my favourite exercise classes and sessions as much as I can. I massively feel the difference when I’m not doing this and spin classes and deadlifts are now an essential part of keeping mentally well and happy for me.
- Dog training sessions on a Friday night - I know how to enjoy myself! I had been taking Daphne to agility training since September - through the wind and rain. Good for my soul and she seemed to love it!
- Cold and wintery dog walks at lunchtimes to get outdoors during the short daylight days.
- Making time for reading some of the books I’ve not managed to read yet….
- This Too Shall Pass - Stories of Change, Crisis and Hopeful Beginnings - Julia Samuel
- Time and How to Spend it - James Wallman
- The Boy, the Fox and the Horse - Charlie Mackesy
Interesting that these were the three books I bought just before the initial lockdown in March - seem really relevant to the time we’re in.
So these things are helping for now and I’m sure they will on an ongoing basis too. Things are obviously still quite uncertain and who knows how long we will be in this situation for, so I guess we will all be adapting as we go.
All these photos were taken before COVID-19 and the restrictions in place.