Lockdown number two has begun in the UK, and I wasn’t ready. I. Was. Not. Ready.
Yet, here we are. And so far, I’m surviving. By surviving I mean not totally losing my shit. I’d say that’s going above and beyond by today’s standards, so I’ll take the win (and gladly bestow my success upon anyone else in need of a win, too).
This pandemic has been tough on the mental health of so many people around the world. It’s a fact that it has affected everyone in some way or another, but I’ve personally felt it way more lately than I did at the beginning.
Back then I was working a full-time job that had been made temporarily remote, so I didn’t really have the time to soak it in. Everything felt the same, for the most part.
In fact, things had gotten better because I no longer had to fight the awful Atlanta traffic twice a day. I was living with my best friend and my boyfriend had just made it over the US border before Trump shut it down in mid-March.
I’d gone from being in a long-distance relationship and working a job with an awful commute, to then living with my boyfriend where I got to sleep in later and work from home.
Now, though…now I’m feeling it. I’m living in England with my now-fiancé and we’re in the country’s second wave. They’re trying to give hospitals a chance to ‘catch up’ with the cases, and the vaccines time to be ready for distribution.
So until December 2nd at least, we’re not allowed outside. We’ve been trying to be careful since cases have been climbing, so we’ve already been inside for weeks. I need balance in my life, as do most people, and this situation allows for nothing of the sort.
I guess the difference now is that the novelty has worn off. At first, it wasn’t bad being stuck inside. If anything it was nice being ordered to stay home. Maybe it also helped knowing that so many people I loved were at least nearby, even if we couldn’t actually see each other.
Now, England is in lockdown and for months people back home in the states have been living their lives. Not much has changed for them — they interact with people. They work, they go out and party, they see their families, etc.
Now I obviously can’t see my friends or family anyway being that I live a few thousand miles and about an ocean apart from them, but if not for Covid I’d at least be doing other things here. I’d be having experiences, hanging out with some of our friends here maybe…making memories with my fiancé that look different than the inside walls of our flat.
Instead, we sit inside and watch the rest of the world go on. Life goes on, even when yours doesn’t.
I’m now just a freelance writer, which means that work isn’t necessarily consistent. This leaves lots of free time with not much to do, especially lately.
Sometimes, I take walks outside for the hour per day we’re allowed for “exercise or essentials runs” just finding ways to try and feel alive. I found myself tracing the borders of St. Paul’s Square the other day, over and over again. St. Paul’s Square is largely comprised of a cemetery. I found that ironic when it hit me.
It sounds morbid, and I really don’t have much room to complain since I’m lucky enough to have found my life partner — I can’t imagine what it’s like for those stuck in lockdown by themselves. My heart goes out to those in that situation.
We’ve definitely had a lot of laughs and made some incredible memories being together during this whole thing. We’ve gotten to know each other on a level that, as I’m sure other couples will concur post-2020, we might have never done in a normal life routine.
But still and yet, too much time inside with few varying experiences and little fresh air will breach even the strongest mind. Too much of one thing is never good.
So what can we do about this? How can one survive the 2020 pandemic lockdowns, part two? Take a look at my Survival Guide below for a little inspo.
The Survival Guide
Don’t lose a sense of routine. Seriously — you’ll regret it, and you’ll know what I mean when you start losing track of your days, when the time stops mattering, and when your bedtime has inched its way closer and closer to sunrise.
Things have to matter. If time stops mattering, then so will everything else. Make sure you are still setting alarms and maintaining a sensible daily schedule. It’ll make you feel organized and purposeful.
Just like in normal times, getting up early will feel good, and will give you more of a chance of having some kind of productivity. If you’re like me and you don’t have much to work on lately, then start a creative project.
I’ve used the moments when I’m feeling inspired — rare when you’re not experiencing a ton right now, I know — to work on long term projects of mine like novels and screenplays. Not having article assignments from clients leaves a little extra creative energy in the reservoir, so I try to take advantage of it in the mornings when I’ve made my coffee. It’s the closest mock-café ambiance I can cultivate. We’ve gotta work with what we’ve got.
If it helps, schedule daily walks with the time your government has allowed you to take. Establish an hour or two solely for yoga or some kind of home exercise. Being active will also aid with your mental health, so keeping exercise in your routine is doubly beneficial.
Anything that will resemble normality will likely give you some comfort during lockdown.
Don’t let yourself go too much. If you do, just keep it to weekends. This will also help you hold onto your sense of time and, well, the days of the week.
What does this mean, though? It means keep on eating healthy, at least on business days! Don’t binge eat to where it becomes a habit. Don’t binge anything too much as a matter of fact — not even Netflix. You want to make sure that despite being in lockdown, you’re still monitoring your screen time for the sake of your eye health, and your brain health, too.
Stay hydrated, get your five fruit and veg servings — all the good stuff. Don’t completely lose touch with your self care. If you find that you have, then the sooner you find your way back to moderation and health, the better.
If you live with someone else, make sure you both get space. It’s healthy and necessary. Too much time with anyone is bound to get on your nerves, and theirs. It’s both natural and inevitable. Make sure to carve out time to do things important and meaningful to you so that when you bring your attention back to your significant other/roommate/whoever, you’ll be in a better mood and a better overall mental place, which equals a better encounter for both of you every time.
Be sure to vocalise whenever you feel a need to have time to yourself, and communicate it in a gentle way to them. Similarly, be receptive to them when they have the same need. A little time apart is healthy and will make the time lockdown together much more sustainable.
Write in a gratitude journal. I’ve seen people mention this concept a lot lately, and I can see the appeal. It can help bring all the good stuff into the front of your mind instead of all the bad — pretty straightforward! But powerful, nevertheless.
There are so many things to be grateful for that it’s easy to often overlook or not appreciate them because we’ve grown entitled to them, in a sense. We assume those things are now permanent in our lives. We forget how lucky we are.
You might consider making this gratitude journal a daily habit, perhaps in the mornings as a positive start to your day.
Facetime your friends and fam. It might seem strange to list out, but I’m the type to complain about missing my people, yet letting days and days go by without actually calling them. It’s a strange phenomenon, honestly.
The time zone difference can come into play sometimes…by the time the 9–5ers are off work it’s late here; or we play phone tag back and forth; the signal is bad on one of our ends, etc. Time goes by and we haven’t spoken in weeks or months. It definitely happens to the best of us.
Just bite the bullet and call. Text them first and figure out a good time to talk, if that solidifies things better. Staying in touch with those you love will keep you in touch with, well, reality.
Try and make it an opportunity. Being locked down at home used to sound like such a dream, didn’t it? What happened? Well, it’s the norm, now. At least for those countries around the world that have taken those steps thus far. The norm tends to be less appreciated, and we often acclimate to a situation that would’ve otherwise been a godsend.
I’m the first to acknowledge that moderation is important. I know that too much of being at home is no longer fun or comforting, but try to bring yourself back to the times when it was. What would you have killed for this time to do or accomplish? Learn an instrument? Write a book? Cook more meals? This is the time, my friend. No better time than now.
And if all goes as we hope it will, lockdowns will ease toward Christmas. So this truly will not last for too much longer. You may reach a sense of normality next year, and look back at the lockdowns of 2020 wishing you’d done things you never got around to.
Don’t lose yourself in too much Netflix, and try making the most of this strange and scary year. Keep in touch with your loved ones to stay grounded, keep a gratitude journal to stay positive; stay active, and maintain a sense of routine.
If you’re in lockdown with others, establish a healthy amount of space in order to enjoy the time you spend together more. And don’t let yourself go! It’ll be spring before you know it, and you’ll be out there on whatever beach with whatever bikini body you put the work in for now — we’re manifesting, people. Put the words out there. Fingers crossed.
Let’s come out better from the other side of this pandemic, with a little positivity and supportive tips from each other on keeping all our shit together and staying strong just a little bit longer.