Now that the lockdown period has been extended in the UK, this period has reminded me of my time in the Royal Navy whilst away on deployment away from the country. That’s right, I haven’t always been a Senior Employment Advisor at Newground!
We would often be a sea for many weeks especially when we were on operations. Sometimes we would leave Portsmouth not really knowing when we would return which is so like the current crisis.
The most important thing to do was to get into a routine as soon as possible. Yes, the Navy has its disciplines and rules, but having your own rules and routines were equally important so your mind did not have time to dwell on the separation from friends and family. Having a daily routine can help us all through this time.
Life on board a grey ship in the middle of the sea, can become lonely but the main way we got through it was being part of a community or team. Speaking to someone or being there for someone, is very important. Doesn’t matter what you say or don’t say, just being there helps enormously. The routine I would get into was mainly planned around our tasks for the day outlined in Daily Orders. Working on “watches” (shifts) become a great way for the days to pass quickly. These were throughout the day and night and in a small team if not at a higher degree of readiness. After work, I would keep myself busy by mainly keeping fit and then watching films or reading. Daily fitness circuits were done by our PT staff and these became very enjoyable. Also going for runs around the upper deck and I would often try and dodge one of the upper deck doors opening or that would become a man over board exercise. Keeping fit or active no matter how much or little you can do is very important for the mind, body and soul.
Having to do these tasks became the norm and before you knew it you were either along side in a foreign port enjoying the sites or back home to good old Britain.
My advice to everyone is to get into a routine. Get up get dressed, have breakfast, do your chores whether that be working from home, looking for work, reading the paper, sending emails, talking on the phone whatever it takes try not to dwell on the fact that we are in lockdown. Surround yourself with positive thoughts. We always looked forward to either returning to the UK or the many different places we went to.
Have someone on hand to talk to. Newground has many advisors that you can pick up the phone to. When I was in the Navy our motto was “The Team Works” and it doesn’t just mean when we are called to action in trouble spots, guarding British interests or humanitarian support. It means when you are on board that ship, the whole crew is there for each other. So no matter how many or few people you have to speak to, there is always someone looking after you and also you after them. Make sure to speak to people. Many of us are now using web chats more and more and this is a great way to see friends and family. Interviews are also being done this way. When I was away, we didn’t have access to video calls (I am not Uncle Albert!) but we did pick up the phone and this was a great help. Also looking forward to the, not so often, postal deliveries either in a port or by our helicopter. You will never know how good it was to see something like a packet of McVities Chocolate biscuits from home but this shows how important for us to keep positive is something from “normal life”.
So when it comes to dealing with the current lockdown, get into a routine as soon as possible and try to stick to that routine so your mind knows what your goals are each day.
By Mark Stevenson