I went back to work this week and slotted into my old routine at an alarmingly fast pace. Whilst it was comforting in so many ways – my desk had gathered some dust but it still looked the same – I was reminded how easy it will be to return to ‘normal’ once this is all over. Some might say that it will be a very long time (if ever) until things go back to the way they were B.C. (Before Coronavirus) but you know what I mean – something that at least resembles our old lives.
Human nature encourages us to forget about the difficult aspects of life and to move on as quickly as possible. Tempting as that might be, I think it’s important that we don’t forget this period in our lives – the good and the bad. But how will I remember the mini revelations I’ve had in lockdown, the thoughts on what I’d like my life to look like going forward? How will I ensure that I’m still putting it into practice in 2, 3 or 10 years time when life has moved on?
Write a blog post of course! So this is one for the future me to read and remember…
Having watched other countries close their borders, schools and front doors, we knew it was coming. At 7pm on 23rd March 2020, Boris Johnson declared that Britain was officially in lockdown and our lives changed overnight.
As I write this we are going into our 10th week in lockdown, albeit a slightly less austere one now. For the last week or so, we have been allowed to meet with one other person outside of our immediate family and we are being encouraged to go back to work – if we can keep two metres apart at all times.
Sadly, many have been bending the lockdown rules for a while now, thus a second peak looms large. Who knows how long we will be living in this strange, altered universe where travel is off the agenda, schools are closed, GSCE and A level exams are cancelled and the majority of life remains at a stand still? We are fighting a virus that we’ve not seen before, one that appears to be wreaking havoc across the entire world. Things we once took for granted, can no longer be relied upon.
One of the biggest things I’ve realised, is that I’m actually not the extroverted ‘people-person’ that I thought I was. B.C. I wouldn’t go more than a day without meeting up with someone outside of my immediate family. I would readily wake up on a Saturday morning, berating a weekend that didn’t involve a social gathering of some description.
Not being able to meet up with others has forced me to find contentment in my home and I honestly think that I have. I’ve been surprised to discover that these four walls, my immediate family and access to the outside world via the click of a Zoom button, have been more than enough.
Closely related to this, is a realisation that being busy does absolutely nothing for me. I do not miss the full diary, the to-do list that I’m struggling to keep up with, or the feeling of FOMO that has always been my nemesis. Quite early on in lockdown, I decided to give myself one task each day, mostly to serve as a reason to get up in the morning. Some days that task has been as small as taking the dogs for a walk, other days it’s been volunteering at our local community hub.
The fact that I *can’t* do many of the things that used to fill my days, has kind of let me off the hook. The pressure has gone, my shoulders have dropped and I’ve learnt to appreciate the freedom of a few days to do whatever I like. Some days I’ve spent three hours just doing a puzzle – who’d have thought it?! I want to hang on to this feeling that I think might be commonly known as ‘relaxation’, it’s done me the world of good.
This unexpected space and time (thank you furlough) has provided me with the perfect opportunity to create new habits, ones that I’ve been longing to do (but have struggled to get a handle on) for a very long time. Most mornings during lockdown I’ve sat down with my bible and have spent time with God. I am hoping that this habit has settled for good. A few months ago, I read Psalm 145 and one small phrase jumped out – the Lord is near. Every time I’ve felt anxious during this time, unsure of the future, concerned about my daughter who is not able to be with us at the moment, I’ve whispered these words to myself: “The Lord is near“. It’s brought an instant peace that has immediately changed my perspective.
There have been a few, slightly more trivial, things that I want to remember too…
Contrary to popular belief, we do not need to replenish our fridge every other day. We can often make do with what we already have in the cupboards and planning meals in advance makes one weekly trip to the supermarket, perfectly doable.
Whilst I *might* have rescinded my intention to not buy any new clothes at all, I am certainly buying less. The guilt of only wearing an item of clothing a handful of times before giving it to charity, has gone and the mental energy I used to spend deliberating over what clothing item is missing from my summer wardrobe, has been spent on more meaningful things.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard people say ‘I’m saving so much money in lockdown’. Interestingly, I’ve not really missed many of the things I used to spend money on. One of those things is eating out, which had become such a regular occurrence B.C. that it was no longer a treat reserved for ‘high days and holidays’. It all feels rather unnecessary and decadent now. I want eating out to be a treat again; treats are good.
Another thing that I haven’t missed, is my gym membership. I’ve developed a regular fitness routine at home via the Fiit app, which provides a variety of classes and is so much more accessible. The fact that my usual gym was bulldozed down a few weeks ago, probably helps that decision!
I realised today, that I have saved around £200 by not having my hair cut or coloured during lockdown. I can confirm that this is one money-spending activity that I will be returning to as soon as Boris gives us the all clear. Apologies to my brave comrades who have embraced the grombé but I just don’t think I’m ready for it. Not yet anyway.
Thankfully, I am writing this from the privileged position of having no real change to our income and all family members and close friends are virus-free (so far). There have been some tricky aspects to lockdown (no-one has been exempt from those) but on the whole, this enforced pause has been good for me. How ironic that my chosen word for 2020 was pause!