Let’s not look at this with rose tinted glasses – the last 12 months have been dreadful. We have had to adapt and cope with the unthinkable and the unpredictable. The world has changed forever and continues to change with each day.
Some of us have never spent so much time at home, in one place. This hasn’t been a good thing for some, but it has given us a very unique opportunity. We have still been connecting with others and making memories, just in a very different way.
We all used to complain about how busy we were – never enough hours in the day. In the past 12 months, the reverse has become true with many hours to fill. Maybe this temporary retreat from life’s hustle and bustle isn’t such a bad thing.
So what have we been doing over the past year? What have been the unexpected benefits of a life in lockdown?
The biggest change for me was working from home 5 days a week. For many of us this was never an option. With companies not having the technology or the trust in their employees, the answer for many of us when we asked for remote working was a resounding ‘no’. But then we had no choice and I won’t lie – I’ve loved it.
As much as I like being in an office environment, I find it noisy and distracting. There is far too much chitter-chatter going on and flouncing dramas. My colleagues’ inability to crack on with their work meant I was unproductive too. I’m getting far more work done at home, I’m taking breaks outside, I’m eating healthier lunches, there’s no stressful commute and I’m having time for breakfast, too.
Being at home more, I’ve got to know my neighbours. Don’t get me wrong, I’m never going to be best mates with most of them as we have very little in common. But during the last 12 months we have set up a WhatsApp group and supported each other. We’ve done shopping for each other, shared DIY tips, printed homework for kids and discovered each other’s birthdays. Our daily lives before lockdown meant we were all rather disconnected, and I didn’t even know how sad that made me feel until we all started talking to each other.
I’ve got more in touch with nature. I’d stopped paying attention to the world around me. I was only interested in the weather forecast as that had an impact on my oh-so-busy plans.
In the last 12 months I’ve danced in the rain, caught snowflakes on my tongue, gazed at the stars, watched sunrises and sunsets and just thoroughly loved getting outside. I’ve watched my garden change through the seasons for 365 days – I’ve seen it bloom, scale back for winter and then come back to life in spring. I’ve listened to the birds sing, watched them make nests and feed their young. Nature has been a beautiful, uplifting and welcome distraction.
The gym closed and do you know what? I’m not going back. Why do I want to exercise in a room filled with sweaty, smelly people who look down their noses at me? I’ve managed my fitness pretty well. I’ve been able to access workouts online for free, I don’t actually need that equipment I was paying membership for and barely used – I can now fit a workout in around my life.
Mental health took a battering. At the start it was all scary and it was very easy to over saturate the brain with every news bulletin and Government update. I was checking the numbers of cases and deaths daily and didn’t realise what an impact it was having on me.
Making a decision to look for contentment was the best thing I did – I couldn’t change the world, but I could change my world. Watching rain drops roll down the window as I painted or sewed became a blissful way to spend an afternoon. I’ve read books I’ve bought and never opened, watched films I’ve always wanted to see and generally just tried to live in my own happy little world as we ride this thing out.
My contentment was also boosted by something else. I hadn’t realised that there were people in my life that were making me miserable. I knew I had a few friends that could be a bit toxic, but I was never brave enough to make that final step and cut them loose. The removal of a social life was the golden ticket I needed and the feeling of release is immense. I felt a little guilt at first, but then reminded myself that they hadn’t contacted me (far too busy being fabulous with people they really should not be meeting up with), and I’m totally happy with that. Walking away from relationships that were making me unhappy is not something I’m going to regret. Ever.
What has a year in lockdown taught you? I’d love to know …