Back to work

Now the wheels of commerce and industry have started turning again, there will be many offices, factories, shops, restaurants and bars where the doors will stay shut and the lights out.  The social and economic landscape has changed in a way that affects us all and we’re only now starting to emerge blinking into a post Covid world.

There has been a lot of ‘unprecedented’ this and that, generating a tsunami of speculation and anxiety about future consequences.  Anything unprecedented causes change and uncertainty, both guaranteed to create fear and insecurity.

Billions of pounds have been showered on furloughed workers and blighted businesses to stave off the storm clouds of a recession predicted to be worst in living memory.  Whilst the Spring sunshine gave some respite from the daily grind for those unable to work, many of them will have no jobs to return to or their ‘new normal’ will take some adjusting to.

Jobs for the young

The biggest job losses have been amongst the young working in entry level jobs, often in the hard hit hospitality and retail sectors.  Many of the disenfranchised young adults I’ve seen in recent months are stuck at home with their parents, isolated from friends, without structure, order, routine or purpose in their daily life.  Screen time is their main occupation and they often become nocturnal, rarely seeing daylight before midday and becoming progressively more anxious and depressed.  

It’s hard to give them any reason for optimism or hope when there’s so little to look forward to.  Chancellor Rishi Sunak has pledged £2bn to ‘kickstart’ job creation for young employees by paying under-25s minimum wages for six month work placements.  There will be more work coaches at job centres and cash incentives for companies to take on new apprentices.

What about the furloughed?

In the midst of lockdown, we’ve all had a bit of time to reflect on how we structure our lives and which values are most important.  We are on the cusp of a revolution in the way we work, earn a living and spend our money.  Being jobless post lockdown will be nothing like the picnicking in the park while furlough funds flow.

As well as the unintentionally unemployed seeking new opportunities in a shrinking jobs market, there will be those who choose not to go back to jobs they hated competing for fewer vacancies.  Normal life has been turned upside down, providing the chance to press the pause button and think about resetting our lives.

Furloughed workers who have stayed healthy during lockdown and have secure, enjoyable jobs  to go back to are the lucky ones.  They’ve had an opportunity to enjoy quality family time and do all the things they never have time for when working.  Many have been able to save or clear debts as there’s been little to spend money on.  Some have seen this as a golden opportunity to explore career changes or take the leap into a new business venture.  

Now what? 

Forecasts vary about how many will have jobs to return to when the furlough scheme is wound down at the end of October.  Billions of pounds of public money has been pledged to protect existing jobs and create new ones.

The confident, skilled and resourceful will be at the vanguard of economic recovery.  Commercial and business casualties of Covid will include producers of inefficient, outdated, poor quality products and services.  Rising from their ashes will be innovative, creative new opportunities for growth and prosperity.  

It takes no crystal ball to predict this.  As individuals and collectively, we subconsciously resist change until we have no choice.  This is how our brain protects us from the unknown.  When change is forced through circumstance, new neurological synapses are formed as we learn to adapt.  The subconscious is creative, flexible and has super powers when confronted with new challenges.  

Our best asset at times like these are the young.  Often maligned and always underestimated, they are our greatest hope for a prosperous future.  Brain power is at its peak in early adulthood.  The young are more likely to take risks and step up to new challenges.  Perhaps there is an opportunity now for parents, educators, employers and politicians to find new ways to motivate and empower the young to tap into their energy and brilliance.

Fear and excitement

There has been tremendous concern about mental health issues exacerbated by Coronavirus and the havoc it has caused.  Investing in services to treat them is one way of fixing the anxiety pandemic.  Another is to tap in to the energy created by fear to achieve dynamic change and progress.  

We’ve all experienced the thrill of a roller coaster ride or a scary movie.  Controlled exposure to perceived danger is exciting and powerfully stimulating.  Whereas anxiety robs us of the ability to think clearly, all our senses are heightened and brainpower accelerated by the demands of enduring or surviving a threat to our safety or wellbeing.  This is why technological and social progress is so rapid during and after apocalyptic events.

My work as a hypnotherapist falls loosely into two camps: helping people to ‘fix’ thoughts, feelings and behaviours created by anxiety or enabling them to fulfill their potential by tapping in to their best resources and using them to achieve their goals.

In unprecedented times of change, as individuals and on a wider scale, we are all being challenged to make changes for the better.  This is how the worst of times can create the best of times.  It is possible for all of us to benefit from  living through unprecedented times by seeking out new precedents for happiness, wellbeing and success.