Life after lockdown

As much as I’m looking forward to getting back to normal after four months of living in lockdown, the thought of it makes me anxious.

I’ve always been a worrier since I was a child. When I was little, I was given a book called ‘Worried Arthur’, which was the story of a little penguin who worried about everything, even questioning the fact that he was a penguin at all. I find it very relatable (except the fact that I know I’m not a penguin!) as I’m still a worrier. I often struggle with anxiety like Arthur, and going into lockdown was a difficult time for me.

It was partly a fear of the unknown and an expectation that I wouldn’t like working from home, wouldn’t be able to see friends and family, and wouldn’t have my usual freedom. It all felt very negative, but I understood why it was necessary and why I had to adapt to it. But now, just a few months down the line, I feel very differently about it all. In fact, the tables have turned and I now feel anxious about coming out of lockdown again and returning to normality. I’m worried about being around a lot of people, a potential second wave of the virus and the ‘new normal’ that just doesn’t feel normal at all.

Once I’d got past the anxiety and worry, lockdown has given me a lot of time to reflect, and I’ve realised that it wasn’t all bad, even though it felt horrendous at the start. In fact, there are some things that I just don’t want to go ‘back to normal’ at all in post lockdown life…

Maybe not everything should go back to how it was.

Family has always been a big part of my life as an Italian girl. But it has been refreshing to see others valuing their families more, spending time together and realising what’s truly important in life. In lockdown, many of us found ourselves getting frustrated and arguing with our family as we got used to being together 24/7 within the same four walls. Yet as time has gone on, we’ve become more tolerant of each other, more appreciative and more connected. Let’s keep it that way!

With a five mile restriction and closure of indoor public places, I’ve seen more people spending time outdoors and appreciating nature close to home. I’m a nature-lover and find the great outdoors very beneficial for my physical and mental wellbeing, and now, I’m seeing more and more people discovering and enjoying the outdoors than ever before. It’s great to see families taking children out and about, and I hope this continues even when indoor public paces open again.

Being distanced from family and friends has made it vital to make an effort to keep in touch. Without face-to-face contact, we’ve all been communicating better because we can’t be together in person. I’ve loved the creativity of letters and cards, Face Time and phone calls, Zoom games and group chats. They’ve staved off isolation and maintained relationships and support networks throughout the lockdown. And there’s no reason why this should stop when we can meet up again too.

The lockdown has boosted community spirit, with some saying that it’s felt akin to war-time as communities pull together in unison. We’ve had a village litter pick to clean up our local area; the village Facebook group is active and growing; the ‘clap for carers’ brought out the best in people and made us appreciate how lucky we are; secret gardens are popping up; and we’ve even had socially distanced street bingo to keep spirits high. I haven’t felt community spirit like this in my life time, and I feel lucky to be part of it now.

With the furlough scheme, the temporary shut-down of many businesses and industries, factories no longer working round the clock, and staying home with less reasons to use our cars, it’s all been helping the environment to heal and recover from the stress we put it under. It’s incredible that just a few months of reduced activity has enabled our planet to begin to repair itself and nature is flourishing. Imagine what else we could achieve if we put our minds to it!

Although I was dreading working from home, I’ve grown to love the positive impact it’s had on my work-life balance. I struggled at the start, but I’ve now found my rhythm and appreciate the flexibility. I love not having the daily commute, being able to wear comfortable clothes, sitting in the garden on a sunny day, and having cuddles with my dog while I work. Studies have shown that it’s a huge boost to morale and productivity, so I hope employers value it too and allow it to continue.

A difficult and trying time has really brought out the kindness in people that our world so desperately needs right now. I’ve seen more people looking out for each other, taking care of family, friends and neighbours, and random acts of kindness than ever before. A kind gesture or a few kind words have made all the difference for me during lockdown, so I’ve made an extra effort to spread more kindness and put a smile on someone else’s face. It costs nothing to be kind, so don’t stop now!

With no commute, I’ve gained back over an hour of free time each day and it’s been a fantastic chance to get creative and try new hobbies. I’ve dipped into painting, baking, online courses, reading, gardening and more, and I’ve also had time to blog again too. Being furloughed/working from home has been hard for many people, but with a bit of creativity, there are lots of things we don’t normally have time for that we can enjoy now. We might never get this chance again!

Being at home 24/7 has made me appreciate my space more. There’s no surprise that home improvements have stepped up a notch now we have more time for DIY. We’ve been working on the house and garden, making up for the neglect when we usually go away during the summer. And we’ve become a nation of vegetable gardeners, cultivating tomatoes, potatoes, strawberries and herbs. There’s a great sense of satisfaction in growing your own produce and improving your home!

Having more time on our hands means we can live at a slower pace, without all the frantic rushing about that we’re so accustomed to. It’s done wonders for my wellbeing and means I’ve been able to enjoy healthy eating and exercise. I’ve had time to experiment with new recipes in the kitchen and enjoy exercise without rushing to fit it into my busy daily routine. It’s made a healthy lifestyle enjoyable and attainable, rather than something to aspire to or make time for. And I love that!

There are some things that I’m looking forward to again in post lockdown life – seeing family and friends, visiting new places, exploring, travelling, eating out, hugging friends, making plans and day trips – but I hope not everything goes back to how it was. I truly feel that the world is healing itself in so many ways and this is our chance to listen, change and be kind to ourselves, our planet and each other.

What lockdown changes do you want to keep when we come out the other side? Xx

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