Adjusting to Life in Lockdown (5 Lessons Learned)
The hidden virus
It’s without a shadow of a doubt that 2020 will be seen as a turning point in modern history. The damaging extent of Covid-19 is unlike anything I, my parents, or their parents will have seen or will likely see again during our lifetime. Not only can we not see it, but we’re most certainly struggling to understand how a new strain of a pre-existing virus can knock the world for six in a mere matter of months. Up until the recent pandemic, the majority of self-help articles have spread the message to be spontaneous, take risks and to lead an action-packed life of outdoor adventure.
Covid-19 turned the script on its head. Over the space of several months, global lockdown was enforced by government officials and all citizens were being asked to stay at home, avoid visiting family and friends, and to take the precautionary measures to keep two metres of distance from all surrounding individuals.
Life in lockdown
As a member of the UK, Despite the conflicting opinions regarding the need for complete lockdown, I’ll be the first person to throw my hands up and welcome firm scientific guidance where necessary. Since adolescence, rules have governed my life. I was able to set mental boundaries which led me down a straight and narrow path through school, college and University. Not to suggest that my parents were overly strict on me, but they did ensure that I had a mature grasp on what was right from wrong. Despite my lack of enthusiasm to be cooped up for an indistinguishable amount of time, I was willing to surrender my freedom for the greater good of potentially saving lives.
With furlough rendering me a useless asset to society, I was gifted ample time to reflect on everything that I’ve learned about myself (and others) during lockdown, and I hope I can inspire you to take a moment of introspection to do the same.
If I was asked to document my lockdown experience in just a matter of words, I’d describe it as “making things happen”. Despite the overwhelming feeling that the world was at a standstill, I managed to concoct a way to keep moving forward which went against everything I’d preconceived about lockdown.
At this point, I can tell that you’re itching to know — “What did he learn!?”, and I’m willing to share that secret sauce, on one condition… that you grab yourself some pen and paper and write down a conventional list of your own juicy findings.
5 lessons learned from adjusting to life in lockdown
You don’t need a gym to stay fit
As an endomorph, I’ve naturally developed a stocky, muscular build with much credit to my consistently healthy diet and frequent outings to the gym, but one thing that became glaringly obvious during lockdown is that you don’t need fancy, state of the art machinery and an over abundance of weight integers to stay fit and maintain muscle. On the contrary, I can now firmly recommend home workouts consisting simply of bodyweight exercises, kettle bells and resistance bands.
With a positive attitude and disciplined adherence to a daily routine, home workouts eliminate the pent up anxiety and demotivation that premeditates getting in your car and making your way to the gym. Not to mention the amount of money I could save on fuel and membership costs by implementing this into my life after lockdown.
Beyond this, I have improved my flexibility by introducing new exercises and a period of stretching before and after my workout which I’d have previously been too self conscious to perform at a gym due to my lack of balance and coordination.
Gone are the woes of social comparison, waiting in line for a bench or tailoring your attendance to fit a quieter stretch in the day. You can stay fit at your own pace, hop straight in the shower, and raid your fridge just in time to curb your hunger. The only barrier to an active lifestyle is you.
My motivation to work was more pronounced than ever
This goes against everything I thought lockdown would be. I expected to become a crumpled mess. I’d imagined that my sleep pattern would decline to the point of not waking up until after mid-day, I was prepared to devolve into a couch potato, snacking on any munchies in sight, and worst of all, I had consigned myself to believe that my productivity would enter hibernation.
Boy, oh boy was I wrong! One day, I was learning how to code, the next I became a man of culture as I cultivated fluency in Spanish. When push came to shove, my years of doing things against my better judgement and going into work even when I hadn’t felt up to the task had revolutionized my lockdown. I woke up at the crack of dawn smiling with glee as I mustered up another creative idea that would keep me busy for that week.
“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” — Jim Ryun
In the months that went by, I had studied a handful of new skills, refined those that I was already passionate about, and prepared to re-enter civilization with a greater sense of urgency and eagerness to put that know-how into practice. I was fortunate that my brain had reacted extremely well to isolation, but for those around me, life hadn’t been so straightforward, which leads me onto my next lesson…
Mental health does not exist along a straight path
I witnessed the deterioration of my loved ones mental health first-hand. My brother lost interest in just about everything. He became reclusive, only ate when he had to and saw to video games as a form of escapism. With the both of us being avid football (soccer) fans, the abrupt postponing of all domestic matches had greatly impacted how we habitually spend our free time. As a result, our interactions were fuelled by frustration and angst, which led to several regrettable disagreements.
My mum, on the other hand, who has always been characteristically bubbly, full of life and optimistic started to dwell on the negative narratives being perpetuated by traditional news outlets. She was absorbed by the increasing rate of daily Covid cases in our area which created an inescapable environment of dread and panic which consumed her bit by bit. She stopped going out for her daily walks, would rely on my dad to go food shopping and started talking about the future with a pessimistic overtone.
And my dad, well, he’s a closed book. He continued to work in the health sector throughout, and shared very little information about what he saw. He sheltered us by choosing to maintain his privacy, but at what cost to his own sanity?
Money is a means to an end
Ironically, you’d think that being locked up would inspire a disproportionate amount of online shopping and impulsive buying. In truth, I can only recall a handful of times that my mind gravitated towards spending, and that was only out of sheer necessity.
For once in my life, I made the smart choice to prioritise organic activities that put my mental health in focus over money and materialism. I had everything I needed within the condensed space of my four walls and used them to greater effect than I had ever done so before.
The Appeal of Minimalist Gaming
Have you sacrificed your living space to house your endless video gaming collection and memorabilia? When was the last…
I made the discovery that society teaches us to ‘want’, but what we want rarely equates to what we ‘need’. When you don’t have the option to stave your boredom through shopping and consumerism, you start to appreciate that the things with no monetary value attached are those most important, entertaining and time-consuming.
The collective is just as important as the individual
The last and possibly the most lucid of all is the notion that we’re all fighting against this hidden entity together. Collectively, the more energy, resources and brain power we pool in our mission to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the better our chances to resume normality at a sooner date.
By putting our selfish needs to one side and being selfless for others, we can create a chain reaction whereby everyone start to see the bigger picture and work as a team towards the same common goal.
Individuals can spark an idea, but it takes a group of people to spark a motion.
The beauty of change is that the simple act of washing your hands regularly is stopping you from infecting an area that another person might touch. The power is literally in your own hands! How cool is that?
Life after Lockdown
Above anything, I learned that every single microsecond of a day is a blessing. Be thankful for your health, hug your family members and tell them how much you love them. Send a message to your best friend via carrier pigeon highlighting all of the exciting ventures you’ll set forth once the country stabilizes. Most of all, think about what actions you can take to help and protect the vulnerable and those who are less fortunate than yourself. To all in passing,
stay safe and dig deep during these difficult times.
I talked briefly about HOW my productivity levels sky-rocketed during lockdown, here’s the WHY :-