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Stress Matters presents Once Upon A Pandemic

Once upon a pandemic: Rachel Capell

The second in a series by Stress Matters, who have been asking those across the events industry - how are you doing?

Rachel Capell of Lemon Lane shares her ups and downs of the pandemic. 

I’ve been in the industry for 12 years and my background is in production, but my last role was as an operations leader for an events agency. To summarise my year, I lost my job, started an agency and bought a canoe!

When lockdown hit the first time, it hit my agency pretty hard and they took the decision to close. A few colleagues and I decided to set up our own agency, Lemon Lane. It’s been exciting and something to get stuck into during the tough summer months, although as predicted, slightly slow.

I’m also working as a part time virtual EA and making lots of Christmas presents. If you would have said to me in January: 'By November, you’ll be an EA', I’d be shocked. I’m doing everything I can for income, and also for myself. I need to be kept busy; in this industry that’s the kind of people we are, be it volunteering, paid work, or trying something new.

I’ll be honest, the first lockdown was hard. I live on my own, and to not be able to see anyone face to face was difficult. It definitely affected my mental health.

Luckily, I came out the other side, I also learnt a few things about myself. I always thought I was quite self-sufficient, an independent feminist living on my own, some of those traits are still there, but there’s the emotional side where I need to be around people. I need to be talking to people, face to face or virtually. Occasionally, in the past when times have been stressful, I needed a weekend on my own, but I’ve had enough weekends on my own now!

I do need some kind of structure and to have things which I can achieve every day, even if it’s just going for a walk, a Joe Wicks workout, or making the beds, versus writing a proposal. Human connection is powerful, even just a hello. With my former team, everyone wanted to work at home but I’ve discovered when you’re forced into it, your opinion changes.

A lockdown low was losing my job. Although it wasn’t a surprise, as anyone who works in an agency knows, you form a family bond so to lose that was hard. A high was that I bought a canoe, which is wonderful. I live on the river and I became fixated with getting my own. It can be difficult to put up as it’s an inflatable one, but I force myself to do it and when I come back, the adrenaline makes me smile. I haven’t been out as much as I’d like though, as I’m scared if I go out in it now, I could fall in and freeze to death!

Routines are so much more blurred now I work and live in the same place. When I think about bedtime, I’ll be on my phone and continue to get drawn to the devil that is social media channels!  I’d like to get into bed, read a book, then fall asleep. Maybe a goal for 2021...

Advice to myself pre-lockdown would be don’t get your kitchen and bathroom renovated, spend a lot of money and then lose your job. I don’t have any pre-pandemic related advice, but at the start of 2020, I had to make some really difficult decisions in my role. You sometimes have to accept that you need to make the right decision for the business and put your personal feelings to one side.

 Two key things to remember during this time:

  • Get out of the house, it gives that break that you would naturally have at work.
  • Communicate with people, particularly if you’re feeling low. 20 minutes of speaking to a friend and I’m already feeling a little better.

2021 is exciting, I can’t wait to see where Lemon Lane will be this time next year. We have put our heart and soul into it and we want it to succeed.

I’m confident we will come through this. It may not be tomorrow, it may not be next month but it will be in the next few months. Things will return to some semblance of normality.

If you would like to share your story, please visit www.stressmatters.org.uk/pandemic-stories for more information.