The year is 2020 and as we fast approach winter it really doesn’t feel like it’s been a whole year. Most of us will not have had any holiday’s or birthday parties, the things that we might take for granted but rely upon for well-deserved breaks from work and the humdrum of daily life. Like most of us I was happy enough just to be able to meet friends from another household and after the first lockdown deprived us from social interactions, a simple coffee outside felt like your 21st birthday. Now here we are again, back into another 4-week lockdown and the change in weather won’t be helping to curb the rise in cases. Strangely, the prospect of another month inside feels like child's play after the past few months but why? Sure, it’s a lot colder than the spring, there’s less desire to get out but we still need to keep ourselves entertained. What can we learn from the last lockdown to help us through lockdown 2? Speaking from my own personal experience, there’s a few things that really helped me through and might give you some inspiration.
I think in the absence of routine and the desire to have it, I think a lot of us decided to party. I certainly found myself in the fridge reaching for a beer on Thursday night, then Wednesday and why not it’s 1pm on a Tuesday. But giving your day structure helps to keep that sense of normality. Just because we’re not going to work, commuting every day, it doesn’t mean we need to stop showering and getting dressed for work. Go for a run instead of your commute if it helps keep your body clock waking up early and keep you going to bed at a normal time. At the same time be kind to yourself, if you need an extra hour in bed and wear your pj bottoms to your first meeting of the day, that’s fine too, it’s finding the balance in your routine that keeps your day focused.
Don’t confuse exercise with needing to drop and give me 10. Exercise can mean a thousand different things, from taking a walk to doing a HIIT in my front room. I think the key thing to take away is that we need a change of scenery and most of our jobs are very cerebral and the body becomes forgotten but a simple walk with some music or with a friend at least every 2 days can stop us slipping into a lazy pattern. Some of my friends said they even found playing the Playstation for an hour or two really helped to separate them from their home workspace and headspace. Which leads us onto the next point perfectly....
I now it’s probably easier said than done but if you’re having to work from home then it’s important to have a good set up. This can be expensive but if there’s anything worth investing in this time round it’s a good workstation and making yourself comfortable. The problem I found in round 1 was that it felt like I never really left the office, it’s not like I have any spare rooms in my 1 bed flat, so my kitchen became where I fried eggs but also answered emails – not a good combination when you sign off ‘Best scrambled, Stuart’. I ended up re-arranging the living room but I made sure at the end of the working day I restored the living room to what it was designed for, a place of relaxation. It’s important to have mental distance from your work especially where there’s no physical distance.
Finally, the good stuff and where to begin, there’s online shopping, netflix and virtual speed dating, of course! I think I completed disney plus last time round and one new rule for this lock down is being able to meet one person from one other household outside. For me, it’s important to keep seeing people through this time, whether it’s over zoom or out for a walk with 8 jumpers and a scarf. Life must go on and we also must continue to meet new people and look for love, here comes the sales pitch, but it’s true we must continue as we would as much as possible. We have to pursue our goals, learn that new skill and keep dating. Whether that’s meeting through virtual speed dating or going for a date/walk with someone you’ve met recently it’s great to get dressed up and make an effort.
We’ve done this before and it was a completely new experience. This time round we’re hopefully better prepared in our surroundings, mentally and there’s still toilet paper in the supermarkets. I guess the secret is learning from the last time what helped, what hindered and to be kind to ourselves. It will be different for everyone and I hope these tips help you to understand your situation a bit better. Don’t forget that with all this technology sometimes just a simple phone call with a family member or friend is all it takes to put a smile on our faces. Stay home, stay safe and stay happy everyone.