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a blog by Chris Barrow

Biscuits, booze and box-sets

The photograph is of 21 post-it notes attached to a picture in my office.

This morning I'll be taking down #21 as yesterday (Tuesday) was my first day of no booze since the lockdown began.

Back in 2013 you may have heard 🙄 that I spent 28 days on a Pacific Island with 12 other gents and that we subsisted on less than 200 calories per day for the first two weeks and around 700 calories per day for the rest of our stay.

It was a month of dehydration, malnutrition and discomfort, during which our only source of water was the filtered and boiled contents of a dirty pond. Food sources were limited and varied; a very occasional feast followed by periods of famine. Snails, limpets, crabs, fish, stingray, shark and one very unfortunate alligator. Some figs and one crop of yukka.

It was during that experience that I learned many life-changing lessons about gratitude, teamwork, leadership and about a very important word in the current crisis - resilience.

One action that helped me a lot was to create a row of empty coconut shells along the edge of the beach and, every morning, to walk down to the ocean from my makeshift tree hammock and ceremoniously throw one of the husks into the waves.

This became my personal countdown clock. To begin with, it was tough to see the row extending away from me and to think about all the days and nights ahead of struggle. As the month wore on (and as we adapted to our environment) it became a source of daily encouragement and inspiration. The last few days started with a growing sense of excitement and accomplishment.

Most of us are approaching a month of lockdown and I have a sense that the initial "novelty" might be wearing off. The title of this post reflects the habits I'm finally getting bored with.

The biscuits are probably the least worrying aspect of this, as my daily Wattbike session and afternoon dog walk are compensating.

The concern around the booze has been building up inside me.

During the initial days of uncertainty and the long hours of re-engineering my own business at the same time as advising clients, alcohol has been the reward at the end of each (and every) day. The fact that there are no children in the house makes that easy and so the red wine has consistently flowed. Waking up feeling groggy has become the norm.

The box-sets were another easy solution for an exhausted brain at the end of each day. Days full of Zoom calls, Facebook Live broadcasts, webinars, emails and digital whack-a-mole that left me feeling the need for a further anaesthetic to add to the Clare Valley Shiraz.

So Easter was a nice moment to think about replacing some of my unsuccessful habits with successful habits. Enter The Strategic Coach and their long-standing advise to set a "21-day positive focus".

This morning when I descended into The Bunker at the usual 05:15, I satisfyingly took down post-it note #21 to celebrate my first evening drinking just a couple of glasses of clear, cold water (something I would have begged for back on our Pacific island).

Last night, I admit, we watched the first new episode of "Killing Eve" but then decided that one programme was enough and we read for a while before getting to bed a little earlier than usual.

p.s. I'm deliberately avoiding the news. A diet of doom, gloom and politicians jousting with the media is easy to live without.

This morning I'm feeling a bit strange as my body adapts to the new regime. I know from experience that it will take a few days before the benefits kick in - and I'm looking forward to that.

One down - twenty days to go and, by the end of it, the resilience to then get back to a more balanced and sensible enjoyment of a good Australian red and quality entertainment.

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