Keep On Keeping On – The Self Isolation Diaries #2

It’s been a whole two months (somehow) and I am back with the 2nd post in my instalment of self isolation diaries. Who knows how long this will continue, but I thought I’d check in again and let you know where I’m at. You’ll be pleased to know that this post is a lot happier in tone than the last one (unless you came here to share in my misery – in which case soz!)

It feels kinda wrong or crass to say it, knowing just how many people across the world are really struggling at the moment, but I feel like I’ve really found my stride over the past few weeks and am learning how to make the most of lockdown. Don’t get me wrong, the gravity of the situation that we are all facing at the moment is not lost on me. And of course, I still have my moments of stress or anxiety about everything, but my mental state is miles away from where it was during those first couple of weeks.

I’m always really conscious of over-sharing and adding to the whole ‘productivity’ conversation online. I’ve seen so many tweets and articles about using this time to ‘better yourself’ and hustle hustle hustle, and so many in response about how it’s OK to just survive this and get through it and, of course, both of these are correct. You’ve got to do what works for you – and, for me, that has been finding a healthy blend of the two.  My friend Dan actually wrote a really good article recently about exactly that and this quote really struck a chord “a pandemic shouldn’t be the reason you strive to be the best version of yourself, but motivation can come from the strangest of places”.

For those of you who might not know, I moved out just before this whole pandemic hit. Flying the nest from the comfort of your family home is weird at any point, let alone when you then can’t return. To begin with I really struggled, but since I have been able to accept this period of flux that we’re in, I have been able to make the most of it. I’ve been really enjoying living on my own and getting to know myself – hell, if I’m not used to it by the end of this, I never will be! I’ve not seen my parents since the 2nd March and until last weekend,when lockdown measures lifted slightly and we were able to see a person from outside of our household, I hadn’t really seen anybody besides the Tesco delivery man. I live next door to one of my closest mates from work so we’ve had some chats from our windows, but besides that I hadn’t really seen anyone or had much external interaction. On the surface, that sounds like it would be really really hard, but I’ve amazed myself by how easily I’ve taken it all in my stride and how quickly I’ve got used to it. I think a life of illnesses has helped, I’m pretty used to staying indoors while the world carries on and that has definitely put me in a good place to accept a slower pace of life. That and the fact that I’m finding lots to do to fill my time and keep me focused, from cooking to podcasts and have even returned to an old love of singing.

I’m also incredibly lucky to work for a very sociable company, and whilst I’m missing the face to face communication, we’re super connected and still just as close as ever, if not more, which has really helped me navigate this strange world. Although Zoom fatigue is a very real thing, it’s so nice to know that from 9am to 5:30pm (and even out of hours!) there are 50 people that are there for me and that I can call on for anything, work or personal. Similarly, I feel more connected with certain friends than I ever have before. I’m doing a weekly quiz with my family which is absolutely chaotic but in the best possible way. I’ve had lots of long phone calls with my best friend Becca where ordinarily we would just text constantly. I’ve done video chats with other friends who I ordinarily may not see as often and this week I had a call with my school friends that made me laugh so much that my abs actually hurt the next day.

Speaking of abs, my colleagues and I have also embarked on a yoga journey together. I know, I know – quizzes and yoga, all of the lockdown cliches. I haven’t baked any banana bread yet, but if I could get my hands on some bloody flour you betcha I would’ve done. Yoga is an activity that I’ve always wanted to try, but I was too scared to go to a class on my own and never quite found the right headspace to do it at home. This morning we completed the 30 day ‘home’ practise by Yoga With Adriene and it feel epic! I’ve never been the best at sticking to exercise; I danced from the age of 3-18 and whilst I enjoyed the discipline and the social aspect of it, I didn’t live it, like a lot of other dancers that I know. However with this challenge I have enjoyed every single day, even the ones that hurt. It’s probably been exacerbated by the pandemic, but carving out some time every morning to breathe and reflect has been really powerful and a really nice grounding experience to set the day off on the right foot. Plus, it is so much more difficult than I expected – most days felt like a proper workout, but with the emphasis always being to ‘find what feels good’. Because of this it feels so much more manageable than any other form of exercise for me and is definitely something I want to keep up, even once everything normalises again.

On that note, a lot of journalists and political correspondents etc are talking a lot about ‘the new world’ at the moment and I think it’s great to be looking to the future and seeing what learnings we can bring from this pandemic into our futures, but am I the only one who wants to retain lots and lots and lots of my ‘old world’? I feel kinda cheated that I was just about to settle into my life, being closer to work, nearer to my friends, finally having no commute and now we’re suggesting it needs to all be different or that our routines need to change. Of course there are some things such as more flexible working, better fitness, more awareness of the world and current affairs, that I’ll bring with me, but largely I want things to go back to how they were. And I feel guilty for saying that. I’m finding it pretty hard to look that far into the future at the moment and consider all these supposed grand plans, when it still feels like we’re very much in the thick of it, just trying to get through things. I know there’s a lot to unpick here and I’m sure that I’m feeling this more because I was already in an odd period of change because of the move, but I can’t help having those thoughts and I think it’s OK to feel this way. Ambition and reflection are great but, in my humble opinion, it doesn’t mean we need to shed what we already have, if anything we should just be adding to it.

So that’s what I’m going to attempt to do.

But, in summary, on the whole I’m feeling a lot better at the moment. Of course I’d love to see my parents and cuddle my dog, but the distance makes it a bit tricky in terms of logistics. And, obviously, I’d love nothing more than to be sat in a beer garden my mates or watching my brother play cricket in the sun. But if I have to stay put for a little while longer, then I think I can manage. It almost feels like as soon as that ‘seal’ is broken and I attempt a semblance of ‘normal life’, I’ll find it really hard to readjust back to being on my own again. Sorta like when you neck a load of pints and then go for a wee a bit too early and then can’t stop. So for now I’m just going to keep on keeping on and neck those metaphorical pints (this metaphor has got really weird, especially for someone who barely drinks…). I’ve got my lockdown routine pretty much nailed down and, on the whole, I’m happy. How are you doing? Let me know what you’ve been up to and what sort of things are keeping you busy and helping you through this weird & wonderful time, I’m always up for recommendations for podcasts, books, tv shows, films, just drop me a DM – I’ve got plenty to give in return!

Lots of love, keep safe – keep positive – we got this! xxxx

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