This week, marks ONE YEAR of living amidst a pandemic. One whole year of being in and out of lockdown, social distancing, not seeing friends and family and working from home. So many people have lost their lives. It’s been a surreal and difficult time for us all. A year ago, most of us thought that lockdown would be a temporary thing and perhaps last a month or two. Little did we know that it would last over a year (at least). That it would become normal to wear a mask in public places, and that life would change as we know it.
Although it’s certainly not been easy – the pandemic has caused pain, suffering, millions of deaths and a rise in mental health issues. There have been some positives to come out of the last year. While I’m in a reflective mood, I thought I’d list some of the things I’ve learnt whilst being locked down for 12 months.
5 things I’ve learnt from a year in lockdown
1. Friends and Family are everything
This is the big one for me. I’ve realised how important friends, family and partners truly are in everyday life. How much time we used to spend with each other and how much we took things like popping over to a friends house for a coffee, very much for granted. Before the pandemic, I lived alone. I spent most of my evenings and weekends with friends, either running, travelling, out for lunch, or shopping. In the weekdays, I was at work in an office, sometimes travelling for conferences etc. These things filled my time and as a result, I didn’t really feel alone. Most of the time, I enjoyed my busy, single life. I felt free and I had lots of friends and people around me.
As soon as we went into lockdown, all of those things (and people) were stripped away. It made me realise how much I needed that social interaction and routine for my sanity and mental health. I also realised that many of the people I had surrounded myself with on a daily basis were acquaintances, not close friends. With working from home as well, I didn’t even have a reason to leave my flat. I quite quickly realised I didn’t like living alone anymore, not like this where I was alone ALL THE TIME and had literally nothing to break it up.
It was quite tough at the start and I feel extremely lucky that I met my boyfriend just before lockdown and we were able to eventually isolate together. I dread to think what it would have been like if I hadn’t have met him when I did. I really feel for people that have truly been alone this whole time. It must have been so tough.
2. To appreciate the little things
I suppose this links to the previous section, but being in lockdown has made me appreciate the little things in life that I took for granted before.
I’ve always been the type of person that wants to make the most out of life. Go on crazy adventures, travel the world and basically cram in as much as I can. In the past, I’d feel stressed if I didn’t have a holiday or adventure booked, like I wasn’t making the most out of my life. And yes, whilst in some ways, I feel like the past year has robbed me of time, and adventures (I was meant to go to Machu Picchu last year!) but, there’s not much I can do about it. There’s no point moping over the time lost, but instead thinking of the positives and what I have learnt from the experience.
I know now that a good life is not always about going on crazy trips all the time, but spending quality time with friends or family or having people that love you. Simple things like being able to go out for a meal or drink.
I’m not saying that I don’t want to travel anymore, because I do, when I’m able. But I guess it’s made me appreciate what’s important in life to be happy- the little things are often the big things 🙂
3. To focus on myself more (self-care)
In many ways, lockdown has helped me to focus on myself more. I have slowed down a lot, because I was forced to, and I actually feel a lot better for it.
It was so easy pre-pandemic to get caught up in the fast pace life of full-time working. This was the societal norm though and so it sometimes felt that if you weren’t living at full pace, you were not doing enough. I was also training for a marathon just before lockdown was announced and, looking back, I was exhausted. In some ways, I was secretly pleased when the marathon was cancelled as I thought, yes! I can have a rest! (Is that bad?!)
Yes, lockdown has been hard in many ways, but working from home means that I have been getting way more sleep. Without the commute, I have also had time to learn new skills in Photoshop and Premiere Pro to help with developing my blog content. I’ve even used my new skills to create a range of Scoliosis Merchandise!
I have also had time to take control of my health and wellbeing. I have started a specialised (virtual) Pilates class for spinal fusion and have also started treatment for my long-standing anxiety.
As I’m not socialising, I hardly drink alcohol these days and I feel so much better in myself. I have saved also money through working from home, cancelling my gym membership and lack of travel. So I have treated myself to some items that should help to better myself, including a Peloton bike.
Pre-pandemic, my health and wellbeing took a back seat, but I’ve realised that these are areas that should be a priority.
4. To not to be so hard on myself
Linked to the above, I was putting far too much pressure on myself pre-lockdown to achieve certain things and to keep up with others. I’m terrible for comparing myself to others and feeling bad about my own achievements. I’ll use running as an example. Pre-lockdown I was in a running club and competed in various races. I always felt like I had failed when I completed a race and so many people were quicker than me, or I didn’t get the time I wanted. I’ve changed my mindset after a year in lockdown. I’ve realised that running isn’t all about speed.
During lockdown, it was difficult to learn to run alone again at first. But, with the gyms closed and so many restrictions it’s the only thing that’s kept me sane. I’ve realised how much running helps me with my anxiety and mental health.
I’ve since realised that want to run because I enjoy it in and it makes me feel good. I have to remember, I have severe scoliosis, I’m doing the best I can and I should not compare myself to others when it comes to running. I need to take it easy and make sure I mix in lots of strength training to keep myself injury free.
5. How resilient we all are
How we’ve all adapted to the pandemic and lockdown continues to amaze me. At the start, it was very stressful, as nobody had experienced anything like this before. There was panic-buying at the supermarkets, it was chaos.
As things settled down, people began to adapt. I personally am so proud of my team at work and how they have adapted to working from home. The systems that have been put in place means it’s now actually more efficient to work from home and we are more productive as a team. That being said, I am sick of remote meetings!
It doesn’t mean it has been easy at all, and it’s been particularly tough on small businesses. But, having the technology we have, has allowed us to adapt as a society in creative ways. I love seeing how some businesses have adapted. Some areas (such as the processes at my Drs surgery) have been vastly improved and made much more efficient for the future. If it wasn’t for the pandemic, things would have stayed the same way for many years and it some ways, it’s brought us all forwards technologically.
Overall, it has been an extremely crap time and my thoughts are with anyone who has found the last 12 months extremely hard, and to those who have lost someone during the pandemic.
Hopefully, we are nearing the end of this and will come back stronger than before.
What have you learnt from the past 12 months? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Lots of Love,
I had scoliosis surgery in 2010 and blog about my experiences living with scoliosis. My aim is to raise awareness of scoliosis and help and inspire others with the condition.