Bulletin / Don’t do a...

Don’t do a Wilfred Owen – Look after yourself and those around you, as we see the beginning of the end of the pandemic

Author: Charlie Maclean-Bristol, Training Director, FBCI, FEPS

This week Charlie discusses why now more than ever, it is important to protect yourself and those around you.

A number of events came together to inspire me to write today's bulletin about how some are finding this third lockdown the hardest of them all so far. An old army friend posted on Facebook “I’m finding the second/third lockdown a lot more difficult to deal with than the first one” and there were 41 comments on the post agreeing with him. The conversation was about how they were so fed up with being stuck inside staring at a screen. Every day for them is the same ‘Groundhog Day’ and when the weekend comes along there is nothing to look forward to, as there is very little for them to do. Those with children are dreading the effort, trauma and battle of wills which comes with home-schooling. The euphoria and novelty of the first lockdown has long faded.

Those were the days of lie-ins with no commute, Joe Wicks in the morning, doing DIY and those jobs which you had never quite got round to for years, exploring your local area, spending family time together and a slower pace of life. The poor weather at the moment doesn’t help, as there is not the same enthusiasm to leave the house, and with snow and ice and the hospitals being full you don’t want to slip and injure yourself. Plus, the latest strain of COVID-19 is much more infectious and so if you haven’t caught it so far, you are of an older age, higher BMI, have heath concerns which mean it could have a major impact on you, or you live with people who are who are shielding, then you are less likely to go out for fear of catching it, even to the limited places which are still open.

For those of you who are thinking, Wilfred Owen, I can’t quite remember who he was - he is famous for being a First World War poet who wrote ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’. The relevance to this pandemic is that he was killed on the 4th of November; a person regarded as one of our greatest war time poets was killed seven days before the end of the war. As we are hopefully in the final stretch of the pandemic and the vaccine calvary is coming over the hill (my parents I believe were vaccinated yesterday), we should be doing everything to ensure work colleagues, family and friends are supported through the darkest days of this lockdown, recognising the fact that this might be the one they find the hardest.

These are some of the things I suggest you might want to do to support others at this time:

  1. I think the first thing to do is to open your eyes to those around you and check whether they are alright. British people are not great at sharing their feelings with others and we have a ‘keep calm and carry-on attitude’ and so you have to take the time to speak to them to consider their real feelings.
  2. Recognise that you may be affected by this lockdown and be honest with yourself if your reaction to this is harmful to you or those around you. Are you drinking too much, not bothering to get out of the house and exercise, snapping at those around you, or being very introverted and not making the effort to engage and look after those you work, live with or your social/friendship groups?
  3. I think those in authority in a work setting have a particular responsibility to look after their staff and their welfare. This can be difficult if you yourself are struggling as well. The army was a good education in the importance of those in a leadership role, they would look after their soldiers and make sure that they were the priority, but often didn’t look after themselves.
  4. I think we all need to double our efforts and go back to some of the things we enjoyed from the first lockdown. Whether it is baking, reading, DIY, writing or exploring the local area, when the weather allows it!
  5. I think we need to make an effort to keep connecting with old friends, family or those you can’t go and see. My brothers are a good example, as they have been good at having games nights, quizzes or dinner parties over Zoom all throughout the pandemic. The first lockdown was full of Zoom calls, quizzes and reconnecting with people. Make the effort to resurrect those activities, they will be good for you and will also raise the morale of those you are speaking to. If you have WhatsApp social groups, make sure that you are continuing to contribute and engage with them. I have one with those who I used to play rugby with, it is full of memes and funny videos, most of which you won’t want your children and possibly wife to see, but it does help keep us connected and raises morale!
  6. I also think it is good to have something to look forward to. I suspect the government keeping professional sport going has much to do with the country's morale and gives people something to look forward to at the weekend. I am not doing dry January, but I am not drinking during the week, so I am really looking forward to a drink tonight!

I think there is no silver bullet for dealing with this present lockdown, we all have to do what works for us and those around us, but I do think we should all make an effort, however hard that might be and support those around us. There is an end in sight, so we need to hold on until then and don’t suffer the fate of Wilfred Owen and get killed in the last week of the war.

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