From the 23rd of March 2020, the U.K went into lockdown to prevent further spread of the coronavirus. It was during this time that my friend and I decided to make a documentary mini-series about how people were dealing with the changes. In our third and final episode, we asked people what lessons they had learnt due to the effects of isolation. I felt it was only fair to explore this for myself, looking back over the last few months.
I recognise that the severity of the situation differs from person to person depending on personal health issues, financial circumstances and personal loss. The direct effects of COVID-19 are tragic and are in no way something to be grateful for. However, as with any troubling times of life, sometimes the only method in getting through it is to search for any positives. To make the best out of a bad situation. Despite suffering mentally at times, I have been extremely fortunate in many ways during the lockdown period and it’s important to me to acknowledge this and learn from the experience.
And so, here are some of the things I’ve learnt whilst in lockdown…
to be more present
Around a month before lockdown, I was starting to meditate daily. Along with this I had been training myself to become more aware and in the present moment at different points in a day. I was getting there, but with the distraction of work-life and other demanding factors, it wasn’t easy. It was only when lockdown was introduced that I had the time to slow down; I could focus on strengthening this skill. I have now noticed how I take my time with tasks and this has reduced my anxiety greatly. Overtime, it has become less of a conscious effort and comes more naturally.
the importance of learning
Out of a job now, I had to keep myself occupied and mentally stimulated. I found very early on that I was gravitating towards education whether that was through TV, online classes, or my own research. It helped. In particular, documentaries were the most helpful as they were informative but equally entertaining. This resulted in me making a list of Important Historical Documentaries and analysing their impact. Even though I will be studying at University in September, I’d still like to continue sourcing my own research and learning in these ways.
to use reflection as a tool for self-growth
Blessed with the time to reflect and learn from mistakes of the past, I feel clearer about my attitude to life. I spent more time unaccompanied than usual and as I result feel like I understand myself better. Although it was difficult at first to refrain from dwelling over former regrettable instances, I eventually became accustomed to a more positive mindset. I decided to use those experiences as a way to grow and set goals for the future. This was not only exciting but I believe also healthy. I realised that every day is a chance to improve and that without mistakes there would be no opportunity to do so.
the ability to let go
For most of my life, I have been a bit of a control-freak. It’s not that I’ve never been spontaneous at all but more so that I like to make the decisions. Lockdown forced us all into a very different way of living and so what else could I do but accept it. Having so much freedom taken away was challenging to begin with. I was so used to making my own choices and they had become extremely limited. However, as time passed, it ironically helped me to relax a little. Once I had accepted the change, I could then use the time to take care of myself. To be flexible is a really useful skill and this situation forced me to work on it. I have noticed recently that the way in which I make plans has changed. Instead of detailing specific times on a schedule, I simply make a rough list of things I’d like to achieve for the following day, allowing myself that extra flexibility.
to become more independent
My partner and I have been together for nearly three years now and the longest we had been without seeing each other was just two weeks. Lockdown resulted in us spending more than 3 months apart, something we would never have chosen. But this brought me independence. In a relationship I think it’s natural to rely on one another and so being physically apart helped me to depend on myself more. In some ways, I think it made us closer and stronger as a couple. Having now moved to our own place together, I’ve noticed our respect for one another’s space and ability to still be independent by making our own individual decisions.
to learn to “switch off”
Without as many daily distractions, I had to learn to relax and completely switch off at times. The media was overwhelming initially and it was tough not to become attached to feelings of panic and general anxiety. Although keeping occupied through creativity was a huge help, I obviously couldn’t sustain this at all times. And so, I chose to look for interesting content via YouTube and Netflix to unwind to. Prior to lockdown, detaching myself from future plans and analytical thoughts was almost impossible. I can’t say that I’m completely there yet in but practising through this time period, being able to take life at a slower pace, it has become a little easier.
to strengthen spirituality
For me, this time provided an opportunity to learn more about spirituality and I found a greater connection with nature as a result. When out for a walk, I would make a conscious effort to notice plants, flowers and trees. I would look at the details of them and the way in which they moved in the breeze. This acknowledgement improved my mood and helped me to check in with my surroundings. In a way, this links with becoming more mindful and gaining a greater appreciation for the things I still have access to.
the importance of human interaction
The greatest thing I noticed was how much I craved human interaction. It’s from this understanding where the name “of social creatures” was created. For the first few months of lockdown I was fortunate to live in household of four, and so there were opportunities for me to interact. It was also during this time that I reconnected with an old friend as result of making “Lockdown Life“. There is something pretty special about that and I truly value that opportunity. The experience as a whole has made me acknowledge our reliance upon one another in life and how important it is to cherish every moment spent with loved ones.
Dealing with the corona-virus pandemic has been difficult for us all. We have never experienced anything quite like it in our own lifetimes and so it has naturally had a huge affect on us. However I do believe that through any challenge faced, it is key to seek out the positives and provide meaning.
The slowed pace of life has helped me to learn more about myself and strengthened skills. It taught me that we are capable of so much as a society and it gives me hope for our future.
What do you think?
Don’t be shy – let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Using this opportunity as a tool for growth is the only way forward and I’d be so interested to hear about your own lessons of lockdown.