If anyone had told me in January that the world would be ravaged by a new virus, our country would go into lock down and I’d be spending 12 weeks at home I wouldn’t have believed it. I still can’t believe it most days because it’s such a surreal time in our lives and one I doubt any one of us will see again. Lock down has been difficult and we have all had to adapt to a new way of living with life as we knew it on hold. But it hasn’t all been bad for me. Don’t get me know, I’ve struggled with some really bad anxiety that’s made me wonder if I’ll be able to return to the ‘normal’ world again but after some reflection, I realised I didn’t want to return to the ‘normal’ world, but instead create a better world for myself and others around me using things I learned in lock down.
There has always been a lot of things that I wished I could change about my life and my world but I’d never had the chance to give it enough thought or had enough drive and time to do anything about it. Having 12 weeks in my home seemed like the perfect time to try new things, engage with new habits and cultivate my passions and I’ve come up with a few things that I would like to continue after lock down and as life becomes ‘normal’ again.
Exercising – Because I’ve had so much more time and I haven’t had to rush off for this or that, I’ve spent more time exercising and looking after my body. I did a 30 day yoga challenge which was amazing, I rediscovered running, and I tried something new with a dance class I found on YouTube. I’m quite shy about exercising in front of other people so did have to banish my other half upstairs while I danced around like a lunatic but since I’ve done it a few times, it’s started to build my confidence! I feel so much better and fitter and I have more of an appreciation for my body and what it can do! On days when I don’t do any exercise, I always feel a bit less energetic and I’ve realised that I don’t have to do an hours worth of moving to feel a benefit, even 10 or 15 minutes each day makes all the difference.
Indulging in nature – I’ve always loved being out and about in nature but I often realise that weeks or months will go by without me taking any time to do this. People often say that nature recharges your batteries and has so many benefits for your mental and physical health and I completely agree! During complete lock down, the only time I could spend out of the house was walking my dog which (thanks to the nice weather) was so nice. It was a chance to clear my head and enjoy some fresh air for a little bit. Once lock down was eased slightly, the first thing I did was drive to some nearby woodlands and walk a trail I’ve walked many times before. It was the best hour and a half I spent that whole week! As cheesy as it sounds, I really felt like I had blown away the cob webs and recharged myself. Fresh air and sunshine are natures best medicine! The only thing that made me feel a bit sad was that I hadn’t spent more time before lock down doing it, but I will definitely be spending more time from now on indulging in nature!
Enjoying the free things in life – Thinking about life before and after lock down, I can’t believe I used to spend a whole day wandering around a shopping centre looking for things to waste money on. My relationship with money has changed a lot during lock down, and I now see buying things slightly differently. For example, if I went shopping and saw a blouse that I liked (but didn’t need) I would probably have bought it in the past, but now I see the cost of it in two ways, monetary and time. If it costs £20, that’s £20 cash I’ll be spending but also £20 worth of the time I spent earning that amount of money. I’d much rather spend my time doing things I love that are free, such as writing, walking or spending time with people. Not only does it save me money, but it’s much better for my soul.
Not taking time with loved ones for granted – I think this will be the biggest thing for a lot of people. I have never been away from my immediate family as long as I have during the 12 week lock down and it has been really difficult at times. I cried because I missed the simple things, going for a coffee and a chat with my Mam, having dinner with my Grandad or walking the dogs with my Brother and his Fiancee. This is something I don’t want to take for granted ever again.
Taking the time to indulge in my passions – Work, eat, sleep, repeat. Does this sound familiar to anyone else? This is pretty much all I used to do before lock down and I’d spend my day off ‘catching up’ on life admin such as house work, sorting bills and food shopping. Which didn’t leave me much time for anything else, or so I thought. I’ve realised that I actually have so much more time, I just hadn’t given it to myself. I’ve simplified my life a lot over lock down which has opened up so much space to allow me to cultivate my passions and enjoy my hobbies again. I spend time writing, reading, creating, cooking and all the other things I had left by the wayside. All of these things refuel me and make me feel alive, and I can’t believe I let them go for the other things I filled my time with. Looking back, I do feel I have wasted a lot of time on superficial things, television, social media, but no more. I want to fill my days with pleasure and enjoyment and cultivating my passions is what does this.
Allowing myself time with my thoughts – When you’re busy all of the time, you don’t have much time to stop and just be. I’ve had plenty of time to do that lately, and I can honestly say I’ve learnt so much about myself! It sounds strange to say that because I feel like because I’m me, I should already know everything there is to know, but I didn’t. I’ve spent a lot of time meditating and learning to be present in the moment but also a lot of time reflecting on myself, my past, future and behaviours. I feel like it’s made me a better person, I understand myself more so I am more forgiving to things I do or say. I’ve also been able to rediscover what I like and my own opinions. I’m the type of person that can be easily influenced by other people so I often lose track of myself or what my opinion is, so being by myself and away from everything else has allowed me to remember who I am and become more confident and comfortable with me.
Looking after myself more – I used to see self care as another job to be ticked off the list, something I had to get done so I could move onto the next task and feel productive. I now love spending an hour looking after myself, having a face mask, using a nice moisturiser or doing my nails. One day a few weeks ago I decided to have a long, hot bath a two in the afternoon. Not something I’ve ever really done but it was the highlight of my day, using my nice bubble bath and listening to a podcast. I no longer see self care as a chore, but a treat! Something to be enjoyed rather than hurried through to move onto the next thing.
There are so many other small things that I’ve changed in lock down that I could go on all day, but I won’t. I do think that time is all we need to realise that we can make a change if we want to, The main theme I’ve noticed with all of the things I’ll be continuing after lock down is that overall, I have slowed down. I used to always rush around from one thing to another and sometimes I wouldn’t finish the first thing, but I’m not going to live like that anymore. It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day routine and soon we realise that so much time has passed, but it’s never too late to adapt our lives and find things that add value and enjoyment back into our lives. After all, we’re only here once.