I understand that lockdown is the bane of just about everyone’s lives at the moment. I have to say though, perhaps counter intuitively, that for me it has been something of a blessing.
Of course, lockdown has not been without its negatives. I am worried about my at risk loved ones. I also worry about my friends who are key workers, particularly one of my closest friends who fears she has contracted the virus as a doctor. All of that is a given; however, I can’t help but find some positives in the situation. There are some distinct glimmers of hope in amongst the madness for me right now.
I read an article by Joe Lycett about a week ago in which he stated that the symptoms of his anxiety have somewhat lessened during lockdown. I feel the same way. Doing my graduate diploma in law this year has been particularly stressful and, coupled with a number of other, slightly graver issues I have been worried about, my mental health has been shaky at best throughout this academic year.
Right now, though, my mental health is the best it’s been since my first year at Durham. I’m finding being at home has taken a weight of my chest. Removing three hours of commuting out of my day has freed up time for me to do some of the activities which help me to pacify a lot of the anxieties I suffer from. Here are the four things that have made lockdown not only bearable, but actually genuinely enjoyable for me.
- Spending time with family.
I’ll be the first person to say that this isn’t necessarily a positive for everyone. For me right now though, the past few weeks have been a great opportunity to reconnect with my grandparents.
I now pick up food for my grandparents regularly because they just can’t risk it themselves. This gets me out of the house and gives me the pleasure of spending time chatting to them when I drop off the food, from a fair distance away of course. I have to say, to my shame, that I neglected to visit my grandparents as much as I should have before lockdown and, right now, I’m relishing the chance to spend a little time doing something for them. Helping out my grandparents also intersects with another slither of advice which everyone is embracing at the moment; help out those in your community who are most in need. I’m not a Christian personally but, at the moment, I truly believe ‘love thy neighbour’ has never been more important than it is right now.
If you have an opportunity to reconnect or spend a little more time with the people you care about, without breaking the rules that protect everyone, I can’t recommend it enough!
- Getting in the exercise.
I came out of Christmas carrying a little bit of weight and, with exams and work giving me little time to myself, I found that there was no easy way to get my body and fitness levels to where I wanted to be.
Lockdown has given me just that opportunity. I bought a cheap exercise bike, pull up bar, and weights online, and have now gone absolutely fitness crazy. As Joe Rogan has said in his podcasts with Jocko Willink, nothing puts your mind at ease like getting over some struggle. Challenging myself physically again gives me my daily dopamine hit and makes home feel less like a prison, and more like my personal gym. Its a bear pit where I come out of every day that little bit tougher than the last.
My target of 1000 pushups every other day might seem a little absurd to some people, but now that I can do it, I really feel like the time at home has made me that much fitter and healthier. That’s something that, going forward, I want to keep improving upon because keeping fit always gives my mental health a little shot of positivity that I can do what I put my mind to!
- Doing something creative.
In my free time I had been pondering writing a novel for a while. Of course, with my still having to do university work, I don’t have all day to exercise and do the creative stuff, but sometimes I do manage both.
So, I’ve started writing a fictional novel; experimenting with it in just about every way I can twist my frankly limited literary skills. Simultaneously, my sister has continued to produce her fantastic drawings. We both believe strongly that there is something inherently therapeutic about letting your mind run wild with creativity. I suppose there’s nothing revolutionary about that sentiment at all but, right now, I truly understand why.
Getting lost in my thoughts and creating chapter after chapter I am genuinely proud of, is a great way to spend an hour here and there. I can’t recommend doing something creative enough, whether its writing, painting, sewing, or something else entirely.
- Planning something for the future.
Get you some hope! I have to say, when I don’t have something to look forward to, I often get bogged down in an underwhelming routine I inevitably create for myself.
Think of something fun to do tomorrow, next week, next month, or even next year, to give you a little bit of excitement today. Right now, I am very strapped for cash; a situation which furlough hasn’t helped at all. That’s why I’ve been applying for jobs abroad and also planning some road trips for that second Boris Johnson tells us lockdown and social distancing are over. Applying for jobs abroad will give me the opportunity to travel whilst hopefully replenishing the overdraft a tad. Moreover, road trips are just about the cheapest way I know how to travel. The thought of getting back on the road with a few mates, come the end of Summer, is just about the best way I know to get myself hyped for next month I’ll likely spend looking sullenly out of my bedroom window.