What we can learn from life in lockdown

I did a poll on Twitter recently about how people felt they would approach life after lockdown: would they keep some of the changes they’ve implemented recently, or go back to life as we knew it?

The overwhelming response was that people wanted to take some changes with them (87%).

I’ve shared my own too: I’d like to continue to check in with people more often; reduce the pressure around productivity; regular meditation; continue to prioritise my mental health – tbh CPTSD kind of gives me no choice here but it needs to continue to be at the top of the list.

There’s quite a mix, but it’s fair to say that most of them are focused on wellbeing. And I’m pretty happy with that.

Conversations around mental illness have been happening more and more in recent years but there is definitely still some stigma attached, and those people who think ‘it’s all in your head’ or that we should just ‘get on with it.’

Everyone is experiencing this. In different ways, yes, but we are all living through a global pandemic that has altered our lives – and hugely for some.

Whilst I’m not OK with this lockdown in any way and understand the difficulties that it presents for people all over the world, part of me thinks that it’s provided an important reminder for all of us about how vital it is to look after our mental health, collectively. The importance of looking out for each other. Checking in. Practicing gratitude. Stress relief. Management of symptoms. Taking each day as it comes. Being gentle.

A stark reminder that I’ve had recently is to be very, very grateful for calm when I get it.

I’ve also thought a lot about the pressure to be productive and the ‘burnout culture’ that we literally pride ourselves on. I’ve thought about the difference between being busy and being productive and what that really means. I’ve started to accept that I’m not a machine and I cannot be productive 24/7. It would be unhealthy, in fact.

I haven’t baked banana bread during lockdown and I haven’t got a garden to perfect. I’ve been waking up every morning and acknowledging how I feel, assessing how best to approach the day, and understanding what I need. There have been some days where I’ve felt that I simply couldn’t face the day and I’m sure more of those will come. There have been others where I’ve felt virtually normal, and there will be more of those, too. But every single day is different.

Every day I’m aware of how I’m feeling and what I need. Meditation helps with this, too.

I will be taking this awareness and care back into ‘normal’ life with me.

I’ve spoken to my closest friends every day so far and I’m hugely appreciative of it. Before, we were caught up in lives and jobs and that was OK – I don’t believe that you have to talk every day to be close with somebody – but we check in and open up those conversations.

“How are you today?”

Every day can be so different from the one before and the one tomorrow.

I’ve been more careful with my social media activity. I’ve acknowledged when the news isn’t helping me to stay healthy, when I no longer support the messages of influencers or when I need a break. I’ve thought about who I’m following and why.

All of these things are things that I probably should have been thinking about anyway, but every single one of us forgets to be grateful sometimes. All of us get busy and life takes over and we think ‘ooh, I haven’t spoken to whoever in a while’. I’m not expecting myself to wake up full of joy and gratitude every day because that’s frankly unreasonable, but I am asking myself to think about how I’m feeling, what I need, take off pressure, and taking the things I’ve learned about this during lockdown back into life with me.

Have you made changes during this experience that you’d like to take with you?

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