We’re living in what they’re calling ‘unprecedented times’. This is ‘a modern war’ with an ‘invisible enemy’. Our lives have changed beyond recognition, in a very short period of time. Having seen colleagues write about their experiences during ‘lockdown’, it spurred me on to do the same. In writing this blog I hope to show others, in some small way, that they’re not alone and when this is all over and we return to our ‘new normal’, I’ll be able to look back and remember how I felt.
On Monday 23rd March, the Prime Minister announced UK lockdown measures as the severity of the Coronovirus situation continued to increase. Covid – 19 had been spreading rapidly across the world and the PM thought the situation in the UK was now severe enough to warrant bringing in strict guidelines, restricting our movements and who we could spend time with.
The First Few Weeks
Schools had shut the previous Friday and during that first week of lockdown I got my initial taste of home schooling. Work was still really busy, as this is usually a popular time of year for people to consider their career options, and I was trying to juggle running my business with learning how to be a teacher, plus running the home.
Surprisingly, that first week went okay. I was definitely in the denial stage at this point and felt slightly bemused at how upbeat and positive I was being when many people around me were struggling to cope. This was all about to change however.
Week two of lockdown started with hearing a good friend had been hospitalised with the virus and suddenly it all became very real. My husband was working day and night and I felt like a single parent trying to juggle everything. I wasn’t getting any new enquiries, which is always worrying as a small business but completely understandable as people were just trying to come to terms with what was happening. I decided the best thing to do was to take the following week off work (as it was officially the Easter holidays) and this would enable me to spend time with my daughter and regroup.
We’re all in this together – or are we?
People started off by saying everyone was in this together but quickly realised that, whilst we are all in the same situation, the virus has impacted people very differently. For me, at this time, I decided to focus on my mental health and being with my family. On-line exercise was (and still is) my saving grace. Liz Lane, from Achieva Pilates, put her dance fit classes on-line in record time and for that my mind (and my waistline) will be forever grateful! I also realised that achievement wasn’t just one of my most important values, it was THE most important value. So I created ways of feeling like I was achieving by clearing out my garden office, a long overdue task, and various cupboards/rooms in the house.
Being out in the sunshine was very therapeutic too, along with switching off from social media, plus only watching the news once a day. I started to use my gratitude diary again rather than phone apps, and have found that physically writing my positive thoughts down has been really helpful during this time. I continued practising mindfulness (I love using Headspace) which has always helped me to stop the thoughts from whirring around in my brain. Finally, spending time with my daughter during that week revitalised me so that I could return to work after the Easter bank holiday feeling refreshed.
Around this time I saw a quote by Anne Frank who said, ‘Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy’ and this really humbled me. My feeling was, if a child locked in a Secret Annex for two years afraid of being captured by her enemy, could think like this then I had to give it a good go myself. So with this in mind, and having given myself the space I needed over Easter, the situation started to feel more manageable and things have improved ever since. Of course, we all have our good and bad days but we’ve had great weather (most of the time) and I have a garden to enjoy it in plus I have my health and my family so I’m pretty lucky really.
From Easter to now
Returning to home schooling after the Easter break was a shock to the system and every Monday seems to feel this way, but I’ve stopped trying to pretend I’m a teacher and now just do the best I can. The days and weeks seem to merge into one as everyone tries to keep going, one day at a time.
Work’s got busier as people start to look to the future and get in touch with me for help finding new jobs/careers. I’ve found that Zoom has worked brilliantly with clients and for on-line networking, with Athena being a lifeline for me. However, somehow I can’t get the hang of it in a personal setting and have started suggesting to friends we have phone calls like we used to!
I really just can’t wait to be able to go for dinner with my family and friends again. Having used DISC Personality Profiling in my work for years, it became very evident to me early on, how different personalities were coping differently with the lockdown. My husband and daughter, who are more task orientated individuals and real homebodies, have, on the whole, been pretty happy being at home for weeks on end. I, as a ‘people person’ on the other hand, have found the lack of proper face to face contact a challenge. Every week I go out to clap for our amazing key workers, feeling proud I can thank them for all that they do, but I have to admit it really helps me too. After all, I get to see actual people across the street and shout greetings – it’s amazing!
So, imagine my joy when people started talking about having street parties for VE day! I’ve been thinking a lot about the war during this time, wondering how it must’ve felt living with such fear and uncertainty for so many years. It was lovely to be able to celebrate this day by sitting in our driveway and having a ‘socially distanced’ drink with our neighbours, giving me some real happiness during our ‘difficult times’.
What good can come out of the pandemic?
We’re now in week 8 of the lockdown and the Prime Minister has announced a slight relaxation of some of the measures, but it will be a long time before we gain the freedom we once knew, and some things will never return to how they were. Maybe though, in some cases, that’s a good thing. To highlight this point, I wanted to finish this blog by focusing on some of the good that has come out of the pandemic – these are the things I hope will continue, long after our ‘modern war’ becomes a distant memory.
- Kindness and selflessness of key workers and from those within our local communities – people looking out for each other and giving their time to help those most in need
- Getting to know neighbours better and the general friendliness of people as they pass in the street
- Appreciating the little things and being less caught up in materialism
- Small businesses supporting each other even more
- On-line classes making it easier to fit exercise into the daily schedule
- No commuting or business travel meaning people have more time for themselves and to spend with their families
- Working from home reducing traffic and pollution
- Improved air quality around the world enabling the environment to flourish