In a matter of months, lives across the world have changed beyond recognition. There’s no need for me to go into detail about the impact this has had on people – especially those who have been unfortunate enough to lose loved ones. It’s agonising to try and comprehend, so I won’t try to.
I don’t want to detract any seriousness away from this shocking time. But I do think that as human beings, we have to try and find pockets of light where possible for the sake of our mental wellbeing.
We’ve all heard about the reduction of pollution as a direct result of this pandemic. We’ve seen the pictures of wildlife reentering towns and villages across the world. We’ve witnessed an incredible sense of community when cheering for our NHS and key workers, from delivery drivers to supermarket staff. We’ve been exposed to the very best of humanity (and the worst if you dare to venture to Tesco at the weekend).
It has been heartwarming to see good news stories emerge during such a dark period. But on a more personal level, I’ve been looking out for my own unique positives to help push me forward. And here they are.
1. The luxury of time
When I’m in my normal routine of gym, commute, work, commute, eat, sleep, repeat, I wish I had more time about 50 times a day. I’m lucky enough to be able to continue working from home, so the extra time I’d normally spend working out or getting to and from work has meant I’m able to fit more into my day, from taking the dog out to cooking.
2. Appreciating nature
Okay, I know this one sounds super cliché. I don’t go around hugging trees! But I haven’t appreciated nature like this since I was travelling and living amongst it every day. There are less cars and planes, so I’m waking up to the sounds of birds for a change… except on Wednesdays when it’s the bin lorry’s turn to play alarm clock.
During my ventures out I’ve noticed beautiful plants and trees I usually drive past. And I’ve been able to watch the changing of the seasons happen gradually from my window, which I never usually pay much attention to. When life goes back to normal, I’m going to try my best to keep noticing the little pockets of nature that we’re fortunate to have surrounding us.
3. Staying active
At first, I was so worried about not being able to go to the gym. It’s not that I’m mega obsessed with going every single day (good riddance to those 6am starts), but I use the time I spend there to clear my mind and I always feel such a sense of release after a work out. My favourite classes are Les Mills because they have a range of different types, from yoga and meditation to very intense cardio that makes you see stars!
I’ve subscribed to the Les Mills On Demand service, and am really enjoying the motivation of feeling like part of a class, even when it’s just me sweating it out in my dining room. I’ve also taken up jogging again, which I never used to do before because I get painful shins (and generally don’t enjoy it), but just 20 minutes in the morning can really wake you up. If you’re not into exercise, something as simple as a few stretches or making sure you take a walk around the block once a day can make all the difference.
4. Connecting with others
Me and my friends can struggle to check in as regularly as we’d like to when we’re in our normal routines. But during this weird time, we’ve all made more of a conscious effort to get in touch and catch-up. I think it’s partly because we have more time on our hands, but also because we know we really can’t see each other now, not just because we’re busy, so video chats have been amazing at helping us feel connected. I think there’s also been a real ‘we’re all in this together’ mentality on social media, so I’ve found I’m chatting to people I might not normally reach out to, which has kept things interesting.
5. Taking stock
Above all, I think many of us have really been forced to take stock of how we’re doing, what we have, and even who we are during this time. When everything stops, how do we deal with that? Have problems we’ve been pushing into our subconscious by keeping ourselves busy risen to the surface? Have we placed too much emphasis on how we look and our image, and realised that at a time like this, it doesn’t matter whatsoever? Have we discovered we’re the person who is handling this through productivity, or the one who is hibernating under the duvet?
All of this is fine by the way. In fact, I want to emphasise this point. It is OKAY to not be using this time to learn a language, a new skill, work on your portfolio or organise the whole house. We are in the middle of un-chartered waters. Cut yourself some slack! Observe and accept the things you’re discovering about yourself.
I know the talk of life ‘never being the same again’ is really stressful and worrying for us all. But I think taking a break from speculation, social media and endless news and updates about the virus can be beneficial in terms of looking after your mental health. Yes, true, we are going through one of the strangest times in human history. But although we’re apart geographically, I think we are more united than ever. Look after each other, and look after yourself.
The sun will rise tomorrow.