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Surviving and Thriving During Lockdown: Our MD Tells Her Story

By June 26, 2020No Comments

Our communications queen Emma ‘Halo’ Heley has been juggling childcare, running a business, overcoming her own fight with Covid 19 and caring for her Mum (who nearly died during the crisis). How does she do it?

Like many of us who celebrated the New Year with a glass of bubbly, I had high hopes for a stellar year!

Not just for me, but for my family, friends, and everybody else who might have endured a tough 2019. The first year of the new decade would be ‘our year’ – an opportunity to bask in the glory of good health, happiness and prosperity.

And everything started so well. Good health: my best friend’s Mum beat cancer, and finally finished an exhausting marathon of radiotherapy. Happiness: the same best friend got engaged and asked me to be her bridesmaid. And prosperity: we won a raft of new clients.

But nothing could have prepared the world for what happened next. In a matter of weeks, we saw countries pull down the shutters, businesses struggling to survive, friends and family facing financial pressure, and our hearts were broken by the daily updates about this terrible virus.

The spread of COVID-19 was a shock to the system, but sometimes in times of crisis you find a new perspective, innovative new ways of working, and a new sense of purpose.

The pressures I face are probably a familiar story for you too: juggling bath time and home-schooling, running a business, delivering publicity for our clients whilst also walking the dogs twice a day, doing housework and desperately trying to find a little ‘me’ time.

I’ve also been looking after my Mum, who nearly died from COVID-19 and is now convalescing at home with me. Our hearts go out to the frontline NHS staff who are working so hard around the country to keep people like my Mum safe. We cannot thank them enough.

Facing these pressures, I learned quickly that human beings are always quick to adapt. I’ve also learned a lot about myself. And in the process, I started to develop my very own Coronavirus Survival Guide.

These little processes and coping mechanisms have helped me to juggle my responsibilities – while still finding time for a glass of wine at the end of the day!

Not just clowns who juggle

As well as running Thinking Hat with our co-founders, I’m also a single Mum to a five-year-old and we have two French Bulldogs, Ronnie and Rocco.

When life is hectic, juggling is key to success. I’ve always been able to multitask, but during the past 12 weeks I’ve learned to be slicker, more efficient and less apologetic.

There are only so many hours in the day. Even if you work around the clock, there isn’t time to do everything – and that’s OK!

PMA: Positive Mental Attitude

Say it again: Positive. Mental. Attitude.

My glass is always half full and positive mental attitude is everything for me – especially in the face of adversity.

I approach everything with positivity, ambition and enthusiasm. If I believe I can do something, I’ll do it. And hopefully that attitude rubs up off on other people.

Sunshine and clouds

COVID-19 can feel like an emotional rollercoaster. Even with your PMA in full flow, we all have good days and bad days. I’ve definitely felt more anxious during lockdown and I know I’m not alone.

I think you have to embrace the bad as well as the good. This situation is not normal and tests our resilience, so we shouldn’t feel guilty for having an off day.

F*@k the schedule

To be honest, I never expected to be running a business while home-schooling a five-a-year-old. But I don’t think anybody did.

In the early days of lockdown, I tried (and failed) to keep a strict schedule. I ended up getting stressed about doing certain activities at certain times rather than enjoying the process and going with the flow.

So the schedule went out the window. Instead, we have windows of opportunity to do certain things, and we have settled into a natural rhythm. When we’re freestyling our way through the day, my son is happier and so am I!

Face facts

I usually take tremendous pride in my appearance, but life in lockdown means forgoing my bi-weekly gel manicure for a dodgy hand-painted nail polish job.

My once fluttery Russian eyelashes are down to four tiny clusters, literally hanging by a thread and don’t even get me started on highlights. The brunette in me is becoming more and more apparent, and to make matters worse there is more than a hint of grey – great!

We’re all in the odd situation of working from home, but still wanting to feel good about ourselves, and you still want to look good on a Zoom call.

That’s why I’m making the effort to do my hair and make-up everyday – it helps put me in the right of mind to tackle anything thrown my way.

Have a ‘houseparty’

From family quizzes to drinks with the girls, virtual socialising has been a godsend.

Pre-Corona, my diary was packed with events, dinners, drinks, lunches and holidays and despite being confined to lockdown, I’ve needed to keep that diary full.

For me, it’s important to have something to look forward to whether it’s client drinks, a houseparty or a virtual takeaway with family.

In the worst of times, we have to make the best of it and if a second wave does come, I’ll definitely know how to ride it.