I am, and have always been, a self-confessed control freak and have had this fact confirmed by many people over the years.
This means that a situation like lock-down was less than ideal for my mental wellbeing- and that’s putting it delicately! Unlike my partner, who takes change in his stride, I hate change with a deep passion, and did not enjoy the disruption to my routine. But having made it through the last few months without the sky falling has made me rethink the way I approach things.
As one of the many people furloughed during lock-down, I found myself without a set routine, and with very little to fill my days. I have spent many a day lying in bed telling myself there wasn’t any point getting up and dressed, only do to the exact same thing I was already doing but in a different room. Sure, I made attempts to find things to motivate myself and tried to create a makeshift routine, but always wound up back on the sofa mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. After a while I realised my way wasn’t working, but I didn’t have a viable alternative.
A couple of months into lock-down, a fellow furloughed colleague made a very good point: now is probably the only time in our adult lives that we have absolute autonomy over our own lives. No work schedule to dictate our days, limited social obligations, and a necessity to stay home. It was at this point I realised that the only way to get through this was to flip my mindset, and see it as an opportunity, not a limitation.
When this all began, I saw people writing on social media about the kind of ‘opportunity’ this was; my feed was flooded with people saying if you didn’t come out of lock-down with either a new body, business, or qualification of some kind that you had wasted your time. That approach has worked for some people (I have seen many new ‘side hustles’ and workout regimes come out of it), but that mindset just didn’t work for me.
Over lock-down I have spent more time cooking and creating dishes for myself and my partner to enjoy (with mixed success), spent time with my new kittens, and actually listened to my body when making decisions instead of telling my body what’s going to happen.
A month into lock-down, if you told me by July I would be volunteering to stay furloughed for an extra month instead of returning to normality, I would have laughed in your face. But here I am, still at home, taking the time to rest and enjoy this slower way of living.
The real question, however, is whether I will be able to maintain this mindset when I return to work. At the moment, it’s hard to say for certain, but there are a few things I hope to keep in my life moving forward:
Listening to my body: I have always been terrible at resting and relaxing, and as a consequence have experienced burnout more times than I would care to admit. I am hoping that by continuing to listen to my body when it comes to diet, sleep, and downtime that I’ll be able to maintain a level of control, without needing to push it to breaking point.
Being honest about how I am: Over the past months I have been forced to be honest about how I am coping day to day, which although scary at first I can already tell is doing my mental health a world of good. My previous method of bottling things up until everything burst out at once will hopefully be a thing of the past (although nobody’s perfect).
Making time for what I enjoy: Lock-down has allowed me to fall back in love with exercise after having been in a complicated relationship with it for a couple of years. Alongside this are some new found loves: creating recipes, going for walks, and a new found Animal Crossing addiction. Going forward I’m aiming to actively make time for the things I enjoy, instead of letting them fall to the wayside in favour of more ‘productive’ tasks.
Stay in touch with loved ones: Historically I am guilty of only speaking to people I don’t regularly see when they contact me; but lockdown has forced me to reach out to people more and make an effort to stay in touch with those I care about. I always relied on in person contact have discovered the wonders of video call, and the joy even a short chat with those close to me can bring.
What at first seemed like my worst nightmare, actually turned out to be just what my body needed. I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to experience lock-down the way I did, as I know full well that not everyone had the opportunity I did. To me, that is all the more reason to not let my experiences from this chaotic and anxious time go to waste. So, here’s hoping for my future to be slow and steady- with the occasional high-speed chase thrown in for some excitement!
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