2020! People will not forget the year that heralded in the global pandemic COVID-19. At the beginning of the year, I wrote a blog reflecting on the 1920s whilst hypothesising what the new 20s would bring. Even then, I had a sense of panic of the year ahead, recalling that the roaring 20s was riffled with economical depression and war. However, I never would have predicted a global pandemic. Nevertheless, I also mentioned a strong affinity to the 20’s era, it was a time of great creativity, also famed for its parties.
Despite the troubling introduction of 2020, the world has become unified in the effort to eradicate this new virus. Whilst the COVID-19 lockdown has been a global nightmare, we have all made an effort to protect those with underlying health conditions, as well as the elderly.
Living in London, I have always been occupied, never allowing myself time become bored. Work, writing or seeing friends/family monopolised my time. Since my COVID-19 incarceration, I had to learn how to process my free time. I especially struggled with being confined to my small apartment, where I have no garden.
The Easter Bank holiday’s proved particularly hard for me as I usually get to see my family. I struggled to find the motivation to get out of my bed and write. Even to get up and enjoy the simpler things in life. Thankfully, being confined taught me some useful tools that enabled me to rejuvenate my creative energy. The most important skill was learning how to be alone with my own thoughts rather than being occupied with onsets of tasks or events.
Here are some things I have learned from self-isolating and being in quarantine. Hopefully, you can apply these rules for yourself.
1. Laughter is the best medicine
I really like the line from Annie that states, “You’re never fully dressed without a smile”, whilst a trifle American, I can attest that when I smile I feel better.
Therefore, when having I’m having a bad morning I indulge in something that will cheer me up. Whilst my options may be more limited I still have some dependable choices from within my own home. Since lockdown, I have returned to entertainment I know will plant a smile on my face. We all have that one film or book that instantly cheers us up. This is certainly the time to re-watch something that makes you smile or more importantly laugh. It could be anything from stand-up comedy or sitcom TV shows.
Another way to stay cheerful and smiling is to reach out to your loved ones. With services like Zoom, WhatsApp or Skype we can video call whoever we want from around the world, and it can really help relieve a low mood. I recently had a phone call with my family and spent the majority of the call reminiscing on funny anecdotes from the past; It had us all feeling elated with happiness. I have also reached out to some old friends that I have lost contact with over that past few years due to hectic work/life schedules. It is a great time to reconnect with people.
2. How to embrace or utilise boredom
A) Many people (myself included) have experienced low-mood or depression, this is not uncommon. Indeed, now more then ever it is crucial to take care of our mental wellbeing. NHS and different boroughs of London are offering free online therapy. There are some great online therapy groups like, Camden ISO, who offer free online CBT.
Learning to be alone with your own thoughts can be a frightening task. Accepting yourself is the first task, you can do this by creating balanced evaluations of yourself and acknowledging positive aspects of your life. I created my own Pleasurable Activities Catalogue, which allowed me to find ways to enjoy my time in lockdown. This could be anything from reading a book to watching a film.
B) Lockdown has released an entourage of productive energy. Thankfully, we live in an age of open information. For many of us, we are now engaging in online courses with this new allotment of time. I have been making use of the Havard University and LinkedIn online courses, but there are many online sources at your fingertips.
The great thing is online courses can be applied to your own particular interests. Perhaps you want to learn a new language or maybe improve your writing skills. The possibilities are endless. The main reason to engage in these courses is to expand your knowledge in something you have a passion or interest.
3. The importance of exercise
We have all read that exercise releases endorphins which make you happier. Never before has this fact felt more relevant. Exercise is one of the few luxuries that allow us the ability to leave our homes for a walk or a run. I have always enjoyed exploring and I can walk for miles without stopping. However, this might be a new experience for some allowing people to discover new places on foot.
If you are wishing to stay indoors there are also plenty of options for indoor exercise. I have been making use of online exercise routines via YouTube and playing the Nintendo Switch Game Ring Fit. The indoor exercise can break up the day and give you a feeling of accomplishment.
4. Appreciation for the little things in life
The adage goes “stop and smell the flowers”, and it really holds an important message. Everyone has become reacquainted with nature and learned the joys of soaking up the fresh air. I walked through my local square yesterday and was awed by how many people were stopping to regard the freshly bloomed flowers.
Londoners have a newfound appreciation for the green spaces. I could happily sit (if I was allowed to) in my local park and just listen to the birds. By comparison of last year, I would be busy trying to organise my social calendar.
5. FOMO eradicated
Fear of missing out! This is something that most millennials have been driven by over the past few years. We all have fallen victim to FOMO at one point in our life. Perhaps we felt jealous after looking at Instagram posts of friends on holiday. Or Maybe you felt guilty for not going out for drinks with your friends because you were overworked and tired.
With the world on halt, there is no longer shame in rising late from our beds. Now, spending the day playing a video game or scrolling through the Internet is deemed perfectly fine. We are free to be as lazy or as productive as we chose. We may not be able to apply this to our daily lives in the future, but we can all learn to enjoy down downtime without worrying about missing out on something greater.
Your time is for you to enjoy however you see fit. Never compare it to anyone else’s.