Lessons From Lockdown

What Did the Lockdown Teach You?

As we here in England begin to, tentatively, emerge from lockdown with restrictions still in place but to a slightly lesser degree, it seems as good a time as any to pause and ask ourselves what life lessons from lockdown did we learn.

Whenever any great trauma or challenge is thrown at us, it’s the perfect opportunity for self-growth. As the popular song by Green Day goes:

It’s not a question but a lesson learned in time…”

Good Riddance/Time of Your Life (Green Day)

Career Life Lessons

I’m sure many of us are emerging from lockdown as very different people with very different circumstances to how we went into it. Take jobs, for example. So many of us have been furloughed and/or have been made or will be made redundant. Sure, we could sit there (as I at times have myself), and demand to know “Why me?” and feel sorry for ourselves, or we could use the time to apply for other jobs, try our hand at something new and see whether that could bring in some unexpected cash.

I use this as an example as it’s a life lesson from Coronavirus that has applied to me personally. As someone who identified strongly with my career finding out that my role was one of those up for potential redundancy of course came as a bitter blow. Having the threat of this hanging over me for a month or so also isn’t good for someone who tends to get quite anxious if I don’t know the outcome of something “now”.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have the occasional “wobble” about it but, 3 weeks later, Covid-19 has brought me multiple new life lessons in this area. Firstly, I’m learning the lifeskill of going through the redundancy process which is something new for me. Secondly, I’m learning to be okay with not knowing the outcome of everything “right now” – I’ll find out when I need to know and I’ll deal with the issue then. Thirdly, it’s opened up the prospect of a new life for me applying for new roles and fourthly I’ve started getting paid for my writing by being accepted as a writer for other people’s blogs! I am insanely excited by that. No the rates aren’t as good as they were when I coached or was a lawyer, but I do love to write!

I never would have even thought to apply as a freelance writer for hire had the pandemic not come along and threatened my livelihood but here I am getting paid for a hobby. Blessing in disguise maybe?

Personal Life Lessons

Before Covid-19, I did not know that I could be stuck in the same building with my husband, 2 children and dog for 2 months straight without actually going insane. Yet here I am!

Not that we haven’t had our moments as I’m sure many of us have especially with homeschooling my 8-year old 5 days a week for 6 hours a day. Then there’s the challenges faced by those of us living alone who have found ourselves isolated from loved ones other than by some limited contact via technology.

As someone who adores staying home when I’m not working, I’ve discovered that once lockdown is lifted, I want to make more of an effort to go to at least one or two places extra, more often. You really can have too much of a good thing!

I’ve also tried, as much as possible to go through this experience without alcohol so it’s now been almost 7 weeks without a drink with some interesting results. I definitely think I am dealing with the threat of redundancy better without alcohol and, overall, whilst there are still good days and bad in this whole experience, the swing from good to bad has been less pronounced, with less mood swings and a better awareness of myself and others.

Spiritual Life Lessons

This one has been a biggie and I’m very grateful that even before the pandemic struck, I already had a good set of tools and practices such as yoga, meditation, journalling, tarot reading and access to spiritual reading/viewing material on YouTube and Kindle (see link below).

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/hz/subscribe/ku?*entries*=0&_encoding=UTF8&*Version*=1&shoppingPortalEnabled=true

The biggest lesson here for me has been to live in the moment and the well-known spiritual teacher, Eckart Tolle (https://eckharttolle.com/), who also has a free YouTube channel, has really helped explain this concept in an amusing yet profound way.

We’ve become accustomed in the West to looking for things “out there” to fill the emptiness we all feel sometimes. Lessons from lockdown here then have been that if we go inwards to face that emptiness, to sit with it, to listen to it, we can find an inner peace that cannot be reached or obtained by anything “out there”. Without the distractions of the outer world, we can connect with our inner wisdom to help us through the inevitable and necessary challenges and lessons life will always throw our way. Big spotlight shined here for me these last few weeks!

The Coronavirus has swept into all of our lives in 2020 in a way that few of us could have imagined at the start of the year. It has of course brought with it some very sad situations for many people and families. But, as with all of life’s difficulties, one of the benefits is that there are blessings to be found alongside those difficulties. It can be extremely rewarding, and give us renewed strength for the next phase of lockdown, to take a moment to reflect back on the lessons we’ve learned in lockdown.

Feel free to share this article with others, especially if you think it would help them through this challenging time.

How Sober is Your Quarantine?

Cheers!

Here in the UK, the full lockdown started on 23 March 2020. That’s currently about one month ago and I think many of us have found it to be more of a roller-coaster of emotions than what we were expecting. Who knew that being forced to stay home would have such an effect on our state of mind?

Judging by my social media feed, and my own life experience, when us humans encounter unpleasant emotions, we tend to try to find a way to escape those emotions. Cue alcohol and lots of it!

The weather has also been exceptionally pleasant and that I find always tends to get the beer flowing, especially if we’re having BBQs and the like.

Anyone who’s followed this site for any length of time may have heard me speak before of how I let my own alcohol use get out of hand – not in that I was an alcoholic in my view but I was a problem drinker (if there’s even a difference!). I also allowed myself to end up in dangerous situations, with the last serious situation leading to me waking up in a local hospital with concussion, having knocked myself out, falling over whilst inebriated – classy.

As such, I am the last person to judge anyone on their alcohol consumption and that is absolutely not the intention of this post. Really, just to raise that awareness that sometimes we can drink more than we realise we are drinking or that we justify the amount we are drinking (as I used to do!) by believing, rightly or wrongly, that the amounts we are putting away are within social norms so it’s alright.

It’s been nearly 18 months since my concussion episode and although I still occasionally drink, I’ve found, thankfully, that I simply can’t drink like I used to. Otherwise, I know that I would have spent the last month in an alcohol-induced haze with all the awful effects such over-indulgence can have on our physical bodies and looks but especially our psychological state of mind.

A friend of mine messaged me last week at around 2:30 in the afternoon saying that she’d just woken up but since it was the afternoon she was going to pour herself a drink. Again, no judgement – if she enjoyed that drink then good for her. There was definitely concern though that this was her first thought upon waking. I remember saying to her that, at the time, I hadn’t had a drink in 2 weeks and was really pleased with my progress, to which she replied that she didn’t know how that was even possible in lockdown. It’s frightening but 18 months ago, I would absolutely have agreed with her.

My last alcoholic beverage was almost 3 weeks ago now, which on a personal level is great given that I was trying to reduce my alcohol intake for years and 18 months ago, even 3 weeks without a drink would have been unthinkable! Having said that, 3 weeks without an alcoholic beverage, or anything else, means that I am living through this pandemic (as are many others of course), in full on technicolour with no escape from reality. That can also do a number on one’s mental health – I absolutely appreciate that this can mean that I am stressed and snapping at those closest to me which is no better so currently my goal is to improve on that. Otherwise, I may as well have a drink!

Current guidelines for both men and women are not to drink more than 14 units per week, but to spread those units over the week (rather than binge-drinking them all in one go), but also having several alcohol-free days per week. This equates to, roughly, 6 normal-sized glasses of wine or pints of beer per week. Of course, we can drink more than the recommended amount but just know that there will be a trade-off at some point, in either looks, physical health and/or mental health.

I know that my main reason for drinking, even now, is because I am “bored”; as if drinking alcohol will somehow magically stop me from being bored. What I have noticed though when I do drink these days is that I’m still bored when I drink alcohol, it’s just less noticeable because I’ve dulled my senses. I spend my time scrolling social media and doing nothing else. Not at all how I want to spend my lockdown.

It is so easy for our habits to change for the worse during a crisis like this and so much harder, for me anyway, to get the status quo back. I guess what might be telling is if before lockdown you could easily only have a drink after 6pm or at a weekend or go for a week or longer without an alcoholic beverage but now the thought somehow freaks you out or you don’t think you could do it, that’s a little red flag right there. Nipping it in the bud sooner rather than later might be easiest in the long run.

If you do want any advice or help with managing your alcohol intake, I found this site had a lot of great ideas: https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/alcohol-facts/alcoholic-drinks-units/latest-uk-alcohol-unit-guidance/

Otherwise, as long as you’re happy with your alcohol intake then – cheers! 🙂

The Covid-19 Diaries: Day 16

How Are You Surviving Lockdown?

It’s starting to feel a bit like Groundhog Day already for me, and we’re only on Day 16. Judging by my social media feed, I’m not the only one so for a change of pace in today’s post, I thought it might be interesting to hear how everyone else is keeping themselves occupied during lockdown?

I’m the sort of person who can’t sit still at the best of times even though I love being at home. I always have to be doing something – blogging, knitting/crocheting, tarot cards, yoga, meditating, guitar, reading, PS4, Candy Crush! And then there’s the more mundane tasks – cleaning out garages, cupboards, every room in the house from top to bottom. And when all else fails, there’s always the Netflix/YouTube rabbit holes to fall down.

It’s not often that people in every country in the world find themselves going through an event like this all at the same time. So whether you’re in lockdown in the UK like me or elsewhere in Europe, North or South America, Australasia or Asia, why not get involved and add a comment to this post telling us where you are and how you’re surviving lockdown.

If nothing else, it’s a way to fill the time – ready, set, go!

The Covid-19 Diaries: Day 6

First Weekend under Lockdown

Truthfully, today’s been like pretty much any other Saturday for me as I love nothing more than pottering about the house and garden on my days off, enjoying the peace and quiet in my own little kingdom where (mostly!) I am the boss.

I imagine it will have been much harder for those who like to maybe hit the shops at the weekend, catch up with friends, maybe watch a football match and have a few cheeky ones down the pub. Or for those that would normally be at work on a Saturday or visiting family.

This could be a real opportunity for us all to find different ways of entertaining ourselves, indoors for a change, if we’re not used to doing it. So far today I’ve cleaned out the garage, watched the live-action Lady and the Tramp Disney film, played a board game, played a bit of PS4, had a few rounds of German and Spanish on Duolingo and knocked out a blog post. Maybe time to just chill in bed for a bit and watch the Netflix documentary series everyone’s talking about, Tiger King.

I’m actually feeling really grateful today that, even in the middle of a global historic event, the like of which I don’t think I’ve seen before in my lifetime, it is still possible to have a normal, relatively uneventful day. Yes, there is still this awful virus sweeping the world, harming and even killing those it comes into contact with and sadly, it’s likely to still do so for some time yet. We cannot change that – other than by following government orders in an effort to minimise its reach.

For now, I’m happy to take the quiet, uneventful days where I can as it’s in doing so that I hope to have the strength to face the harder days that I’m sure are to come, if and when this disease affects me and those I care about on a personal level.

Now, if only I can remember how much I’ve enjoyed this family time today the next time they are all driving me mad!

The Covid-19 Diaries: Day 2

Limited Trips Out Only

The irony is not lost on many of us for a second, I would guess – the warmest day of the year so far here in the UK, with the toughest restrictions yet on our ability to leave our homes.

It is all in the best cause though so we will all just have to man-up, grin and bear it.

Today has been much the same as yesterday but rather than taking the dog for a walk before and after “home-school”, me and the youngest took her out this morning, with my eldest out with her now, following carefully the latest government guidance/instructions.

Similar home-school programme to yesterday too, more times tables, reading, maths and adding to our rocks and minerals topic before revisiting our spellings and rounding the school day off with some PE (aka skipping and running about the back garden whilst mummy conducted a remote assessment with a student over the phone!).

Today was easier on the home-school front as we had a bit more of a routine.

On the other hand, come lunchtime the last few days, I’ve had a blinding headache so I think it’s going to be a case of being careful not to try to do too much each day. We’re not teachers; just parents trying our best to keep our kids safe and occupied whilst minimising the ongoing effect on our children of this whole sorry situation. I always start the day with a bit of Yoga with Adriene on YouTube, even before all this, (which is something I highly recommend for anyone interested https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene) so maybe tomorrow I mix things up a bit by swapping my morning walk for an evening one to better spread my active time throughout the day.

So overall, Day 2 of Covid-19 lockdown was a bit of a non-event for us – the day did start slightly strangely though, with a text message from the government(!), which I’m fairly certain is a first here, setting out the new rules. It would all feel very 1984 if I didn’t agree with it all so strongly. Maybe if the UK creates its very own Room 101, we’ll have folk less inclined to flout these very necessary rules without good cause. I always thought I’d be more like Winston or Julia to be honest, but with the daily death toll steadily rising, I feel no shame in following the government’s advice.

More of the same for Day 3 planned but, at this point, I’m not sure there’s much point in planning anything! Let’s see what tomorrow brings…