Surviving Lockdown in Aesthetics.

Article by Our CEO & Founder Maxine Hopley.

First, these are just my feelings about Lockdown in Aesthetics, and you are all entitled to your own, different feelings to mine, I’m just listing a few things because I’ve been asked so many times about them over the last five months.

The sense of victimisation has been strong. Especially for younger Practitioners, being asked to lockdown their one-girl-business when other businesses are allowed to keep open. For me it has been devastating to see so many youngsters suffer this way, but I encourage them to talk to one of the older more established clinics about ways to survive, by coping with your feelings and adjusting.

I am one of those older and more established practitioner clinics, and Cosmetic Couture has indeed managed to carry on training online, but we have also seen a turnover in staff who needed to practice as well, so what I say here in this blog is really designed to help everybody from those two positions, and all those in between.

I started off professional boxing, and when you entered the ring you had to have an attitude to being punched in the face, one that you knew your feelings would explode when the punch landed on the nose, but that anger at it wasn’t the right thing to win. So too, here. We all feel upset about the lockdown, but in business you have to expect ups and downs, and it isn’t the down that makes you angry, its what you think about the down. If you let yourself convince everybody around you that it is personal, that its meant to hurt you, that it is unfair, then you will find yourself reacting with emotion, anger, hate.

If you don’t let yourself become convinced that the lockdown is a personal assault on your business you are less likely to feel angry and upset.

Admittedly I’ve been taking my fair share of feeling out on the pads, held by me ceo Christian. But its been easier to remember the NHS slogan, were all in it together. Bless all my friends and family in the NHS for risking their lives to help others with Covid 19. We should think ourselves lucky to be able to step back.

But I’m not trying to show off. I wanted to get back too. I know a lot of people that I could not console because they felt lockdown would be the end of their salon, unable to pay the rent, the electricity, the insurance, the bills, the assistant. And many more.

Lockdown dealt a blow so hard its winded many aesthetic practitioners.

With the false restart at the beginning of the month just rubbing salt into the wound. And then the government fiasco over the reopening 15th August and the on going local lockdowns including my own Manchester and Salford just adding increased sense of hopelessness. Oh boy. Its been difficult to stay calm. But even that discomfort had to be handled. So many changes of the rules, so many new guidelines to follow, so many face to face no no’s that make it hard to imagine Aesthetic Practice, that really left us feeling left out, unwanted.

Tense, nervous, headache. Years of certainty followed by months of endless change and uncertainty.

And yet we have coped. Lockdown didn’t kill us. Cosmetic Couture is up and running albeit in a different way, and hundreds of our beloved friends and colleagues are back in work.

I’d characterise feelings in this way, useful ones and unusual ones. Coping with the lockdown in your clinic means positively embracing useful feelings and letting them drive you forward, and actively working to reject un-useful feelings and blanking them our from your mind.

Positive mental attitude within realistic perceptions.

‘The clinic is empty and the industry is locked down. What else can I do?’ I’m leaving that question for another blog, because so much is still up in the air today, but believe me when I say that you have many friends and family to turn to support you, and even many people you once thought of as competitors will be feeling the same way, in need like you, we are all in it together.

My last but one blog dealt with some of the JCCP and government guidlelines for Aesthetic Practitioners, so I wont bore you with more detail her, just to let you know that yes, even here at Cosmetic Couture we realise that nobody really knows what is going on. Just imagine the cock-ups around leaving your main residence, Dom Cum, A-level grades and GCSE grade U-turn’s this week. We’ll do our best to guide you through the nightmare, but this blog is about coping with the negative feelings that overwhelm us during it.

Just to be clear, the rules are not. As annoying as it might be, those who in government should have had our back, as an aesthetic profession, as a billion pound business, have failed. Most people calling us up about the rules are scared that they don’t understand and cant change quick enough to keep their business alive.

18 seconds of Mat Lucas as Boris Johnson on YouTube says more than I could in a thousands words. Suffice to say that full lockdown was not the same fore everyone and we didn’t all know where we fitted in. I stayed at home, chatted on line and on the phone, but I saw a lot of people carrying on working from home, or clinic, gambling that they wouldn’t catch it, or be caught by the law.

Some people coped by carrying on. But I think we would have been better to lockdown earlier, harder and longer to totally eradicate the virus from the UK. But that’s the hygienist in the clinic talking. If you can stop a viral infection in a patient you obviously should. Think of the country as a client, a patient, infected, you have to do whatever it takes to stop the spread and kill the virus. That’s called science. Medicine.

I feel so sorry for all those of you who have lost friends family, loved ones, grandparents, its been a disaster hasn’t it. Those of us with toddlers, kids, youngsters have had to balance it all differently again. All the complicated patterns of support that meant you could get in to clinic like clockwork suddenly challenged and fallen apart. That takes some strength to survive. At the moment it’s the loopholes that hurt most. The idea that some unscrupulous nurses are exploiting the loophole allowing some medical aesthetics within a medical setting is ridiculous. The weirdest thing is that such medics used always to claim the moral high ground against us professionals earning a living in aesthetics. The shoe is on the other foot now as the medics earn a few quid against all the moral imperatives.

These injustices within the lockdown are set to carry on and w have to live with it no matter how hard it is. Remember its not personal and its not forever. We will survive.

As I said Saturday the 15th August in the clinic, the freakiest thing about surviving the lockdown uncertainty is that it could be pulled tight around our necks again any time, we have to be ready for that. A new first wave peak is lurking. A second wave in the flu season this winter is highly likely. How will we survive? Maybe we all need to find an outlet, I went back to boxing and singing, you’ve got something that’s kept you sane this long, rediscover it and stay strong. .

Every clinic and practitioner has experienced it differently. All we can do is focus upon the things that we share as an industry and as strong women; imagination and determination. The adventure we set out on together all those years ago is still on, its just going to be more difficult yet again. That’s why I think anger is pointless. So is worry. We have to think it through, and logically, like it was a clinical problem with a clinical solution. That way we can approach it clinically with a view to surviving.

You’ve been kind enough to message, blog, comment, like and email me with so many suggestions and experiences, preferences for the full lockdown when things were a little clearer. But mainly you’ve empathises with those who feel really low about it all. I’ve had my share of sadness. My sisters have felt fed up. Christian says I wear him out more that 27 years at sea! You’ve posted videos of you angrily trashing the news. I’ve seen clinicians wounded by bankruptcy and scared by the virus. I’ve heard from a couple of you who have been so battered by the financial double whammy that you may never do business again. Oh dear. For those of you who have been traumatised by it, or impacted by any combination of these feelings, or some entirely new set of emotions, I still believe you need to know that there is hope.

I remember working out of my front room in Monton when I had my first hygiene inspection and feeling gutted that the cats could no longer potter all over the desk, chair and recliner. It was new to me and the regulations hurt, but I adapted with a positive coping mechanism, exactly the same mechanism that’s going to get us all out of this pandemic and recession with strong clinics.

If its hurtful, horrible, stressful then coping is how we respond when we don’t collapse. Some cope well always, some cope well occasionally. Choosing to cope all the time is the strategy we need to handle the worst of the pandemic and recession. Its healthy for us to recognise the horrible feelings and choosing not to succumb to them, but instead lesson the negative impact and increase the positive outcomes where there are any. Most importantly, we need to avoid the negative reactions. Binge drinking, eating, binge starving, going back to smoking, forgetting to train etc. These are negative strategies. And there are plenty of opportunities for them. Stay strong, focus on your health. But if you are overrun by problems don’t be scared to ask one of us, or any of your friends and family. Even the Samaratains and Citizens Advice can come in handy.

You may have heard that we have had a few emergency mental health scenarios among our extended friendship group in Aesthetics. Bless them all, for they found facing down the bloody virus just too much to handle. But fortunately all has been resolved, with the help of tremendous mental health professionals, no matter how hard they were finding it to cope they did eventually cope positively.

The greatest concern has been the uncertainty. The greatest strength comes from following your own plan, thinking about your processes of being you, and sticking to them, making your own world, controlling what only you can control.

Now is a great time to sit down and find out more about yourself. Join groups of other people exploring the lockdown and life. Be honest and ask people to be honest with you. Keep a diary, start a blog, look at your new year promises and try some of them out. Help other people by just listening to them. Everyone is going through something similar to you. Your instinct to help will kick in. Talking is good for us all. Networks of thousands of people are opening up online. Some people might not want to talk, that’s okay. Think of it like an online clinic, you know the full range of people that present their most intimate problems to us in clinic. They rely on us, and we can rely on them too.

I’ve experienced so many acts of kindness, some random and some unexpected in other ways. I’m loving being able to say thank you to all those that have helped me over the years, and those that are going through things now but are still helping me.

I learnt in the professional boxing ring that you could not control the punches thrown in your face but that you could decide beforehand how you reacted to them and what they meant to you and your feelings.