We have basically been in some form of lockdown for about four months this year.
Lockdown Two has now morphed into a new (and arguably improved) Tier 3. We are in month two and this time I was ready for it – I had even bought my jigsaw puzzle to help me enjoy my time.
There are some nice differences this time around – you can enjoy little luxuries like a haircut, beauty treatment or shopping. And to think, we used to take those forgranted and moan about having to go.
After two months of lockdown my hair had become a shiny orange fluff ball, so I was relieved to get that sorted. So were my parents, who were fed up of being dazzled by my brassy tones. It wasn’t cheap to sort out my faded purple hair from the summer either. What was I thinking? Why did no one warn me it would fade to a Prince Harry shade of ginger?
After paying extra on top of an already pricey chop I resolved never to dye my hair any unnatural colour again. Except maybe red…
Anyway, I was thinking of calling this article Pros and Cons of Lockdown, like my Pros and Cons of Being Unemployed, which I wrote to help me manage the negative feelings associated with being unemployed.
But lets look on the bright side shall we?
But how do I get through this? you ask. Where the hell is the silver lining? Prepare to reframe…
- You don’t have to go to that horrendously tedious wedding rehearsal/christening etc
- You don’t have to be subjected to any unpleasant odours from others.
You don’t have to take the bus and spend your morning commute with Eau de Methane or B.O Parfum. Which brings me on to my next point…
- No packed/hot/smelly/noisy/dirty/annoying/long/traffic jam commute
If you’re not an essential worker then gone (at least temporarily) are the days of shouting at the car in front, honking and wiping sweat off your forehead, as time ticks closer to you calling in late. Or alternatively dicing with death on your flimsy bike, squashed against frenzied rush-hour car commuters. You have been told by the government to work from home wherever possible, so you can work with music, with a cat on your lap and enjoy your home comforts, with the added bonus of keeping your germs there as well.
- You can wear anything and you can retire your makeup collection
No one cares what you’re wearing. So why not stay in your onesie? Why not have a duvet day? Even when you go out, no one would notice what you’re wearing. They’d just be walking on the road to avoid your potential viral breath. And who cares if you woke up like this?? No one’s going to know!
- You might save money.
Looking at my bank balance for the first time after lockdown I couldn’t believe how much I had been spending on buses, work lunches, meals out and drinks out. But of course I still try and support my local restaurants by doing takeaways now and again and I look forward to dining out again.
- You can’t miss out on much
That party you weren’t invited to? No longer happening so no need to be jealous and think of all the reasons why you might not have been on the list. Everyone’s missing out now, you’re all in the same boat.
- We appreciate the little things
That chat with your regular guy/girl behind the till? Bet you never even thought about it before, yet over March/April/May when you couldn’t do much at all, somehow that short exchange made your day. Or you had some restrictions relaxed and suddenly, going shopping was a novelty when you had previously loathed every second of it. You noticed things you didn’t have time for when you were busy, like the light on the trees, the local birds. It makes you appreciate what you have instead of grasping for the next thing.
- We can slow down and smell the coffee
We have the time to slow down and are free from the busy schedules, the dashing from activity to activity, the relentless go go go of daily life. We can reflect and work on self development.
- We value essential workers even more
It is funny to think that this time last year, we did not even really use the term. That Thursday clap reminded us how lucky we are to have our NHS, care staff, retailers, bin men – everyone who we (sometimes literally) cannot live without and who work so hard to keep our services running smoothly. Suddenly the unsung heroes of society were getting the attention and credit they deserved.
- We value our family/friends more
When times got hard, it was our family and friends who lifted our spirits and reminded us that this was only temporary. They gave us so much kindness and support and we felt so lucky to have them in our lives.
- We help each other more
The response to the NHS Volunteers scheme was so inspiring – 700 applicants in a few days.
- We learnt more about hygiene and infectious disease
Now the general public have some awareness about how germs spread and how to minimise that, we may perhaps see a reduction in infectious diseases like flu that threaten to overwhelm our NHS some winters.
- We prioritise our health
With the threat of increased risk from Covid from additional weight, we heaved ourselves off the sofa and went for a walk, started jogging, joined the gym and in my case, got into indoor climbing. I bought all the gear and I am ready for any “problem”, armed with my knowledge of various hand and footholds, confident that any “problem” can be “solved” if you just look at bits of hard plastic stuck to a wall for long enough.
The effects of an increase in public health led to sportswear selling out. On one website specialising in leggings the stock completely sold out. Most sports headphones had sold out.
We ate better food – fruit and vegetables sold out for the first time in living memory.
We have also ensured we look after our mental health and self-care days became popular – taking a day of annual leave purely to do things which are beneficial to your mental health. Lavender products sold out. The New Zealand government even gives its citizens a day of annual leave specifically for improving mental health. We know now how important it is to be emotionally resilient and aware of our needs.
- We might make more time for our loved ones
Suddenly I was making more time for my friends at the weekend, rather than mostly just seeing my boyfriend. Because…
- It sped up our love lives
New couples moved in together and had a crash test of their relationship. Some didn’t make it, but many did, including (so far) mine.
- It encourages creativity
We have time for that painting, drawing or sketch and some people do painting competitions.
We got absorbed in new projects and hobbies
For me it was a jigsaw puzzle and climbing, for others it was knitting, house decorating, home improvements, reading, crosswords, painting, drawing, gardening, maybe even origami.
- It encouraged us to be flexible and adaptable
We had to think outside the box. We can’t meet indoors but we can…go walking and get a takeaway drink/bring a thermos as a replacement for going to the cafe. The fact that we could only see friends outdoors got people into walking.
We had to change most things – our routine, lifestyle, hobbies and activities. But we found new ones. We found out what worked for us and we surprised ourselves by thriving. No bread? We’d just bake it. No flour? We’d just have something else for lunch. No toilet roll? ……..there’s not really a replacement for that.
- We have a greater sense of community
It may have been short-lived, but clapping with our neighbours and helping others felt so wholesome.
- We have the British sense of humour
If you go anywhere else in the world it might not be understood, but our quirky poking fun at anything attitude helps. From advocating the exercise benefits of opening a bottle of wine, to wearing a box to keep people at the right distance.
Comedians give us free performances from their living rooms as we laugh about how surreal this is.
Of course, times are hard for so many now. I won’t even go into that as I’ll pop your happy balloon. But today I read an inspiring article which changed my perspective. It was an interview with Michael J. Fox.
The actor has lived with Parkinsons for more than half his life. Parkinsons is a nasty degenerative disease. Determined to stay positive, he learnt to walk again and was able to convince others that he could live independently. Unsteady on his feet, he fell over one day and broke his leg. He was just recovering from that after coming out of hospital, when he tripped and shattered his arm.
Lying on the floor with a broken arm and unable to reach his phone for help, it was the lowest point in his life. He nearly gave up on his optimism, but he soon realised that he had come to rely on it. Whilst he accepts that looking on the bright side does not solve every issue, accepting his situation and not letting sorrow engulf him had enabled him to make the best of things.
I tested this theory out and challenged myself to only say cheerful things. I lasted about a day but I felt so much better for it. My mind was tuned to recognise happy moments and the small things that enriched life, like my morning cup of tea, rather than things I could not change that I did not like. I still try to keep to this and my friend said I have become more positive as a result.
Buddhist philosophy gets this spot on – if you don’t like something, change it, and if you can’t change it, why worry!
So whatever is happening right now, try to focus on these points:
- what you can do, not what you can’t
- what you have, not what you don’t have
- what lifts you up, not what brings you down,
because my grandmother was right when she told me: “Smile and the world smiles with you.”