January is usually a hard month for me – in previous years January has been when the ‘bad’ things happen; my stroke as well as the death of some very special people in my life. This January I felt low and remembered those we had lost, but I remained positive and I managed to get through it.
In February things started getting better. I was motivated to try new things. I attended some wellbeing workshops in London, a job opportunity came up and I started feeling more confident that I will achieve my dreams. We began hearing about something called the Coronavirus that was spreading throughout China. I never thought it would impact our lives in the way that it has.
It wasn’t until the beginning of March that Coronavirus began to feel really serious. It became an imminent threat and it was all that was on the news and all people talked about. Life as we know it started to change – restaurants and shops closed, people were asked to work from home and schools closed. The virus has disrupted our daily lives and we all have to adjust and find a way of coping for the time being.
The most difficult thing about the Coronavirus is that we don’t know how long our lives will be like this for. Should we be planning for a few months, or could this be for a year, maybe longer? I am trying to be present in the moment, waiting for this all to pass. It will get worse before it gets better, so it’s just about riding the wave – as we all are.
Our once full lives have become quiet and slow. Plans we made are no longer going ahead.
I especially feel bad for those who had to cancel their dream weddings, or holidays or job opportunities or those who are stranded and are not being able to reach out to their family and friends who may be in different continents.
Our everyday routine no longer exists – we must find a new one. I am a very organised person. I keep a diary and my weeks are always planned out. I like to know what I am doing and when. Crossing upcoming events off my diary, knowing they won’t happen and not even knowing when they might happen, really put things into perspective for me.
Lockdown: things to do
Being on lockdown is a unique experience to us all. We are all anxious about what the future holds but also have so much time on our hands to do perhaps those things we weren’t able to before. It’s a time to reflect and relax. Things I am trying to do to pass the time while on lockdown include:
- Yoga and meditation classes: you can find lots online and they really help deal with the anxiety a lot of us are experiencing. It’s also a good way of getting into yoga and meditation if you haven’t tried it before.
- Read a new book: I don’t read very often and it’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a while, so I’m looking forward to this.
- Connect with friends and family over FaceTime – especially with those who you don’t get a chance to speak to usually!
- Go for a walk: make use of your one daily exercise outdoors and go for a walk if you can (but keep the 2m distance from everyone!), it’s my chance to reflect, clear my mind and get some fresh air.
- Try a new recipe: I love cooking for my family and friends, so I am going to use this time to brush up on my cooking skills and try the recipes which have been saved on my phone for ages. I have also started an Instagram page – @greatfoodgreatmood – so any fellow foodies please follow me!
- Keep a journal: journaling is a really good way of releasing your thoughts, so they aren’t all stuck in your head. It’s good practice to journal at the end of each day and write down three things you are grateful for. There’ll be good things that happened which you completely forgot about!
- Limit the amount you watch the news: we all know it will get worse before it gets better, sadly people’s lives will be lost, and more and more people are expected to contract the disease. It’s easy to get sucked into the media hype and it’s not always helpful. Try to watch the news for a few minutes a couple of times a day just to keep informed about what’s going on.
How you can help
It’s a difficult time for everyone. Most of my friends and family are working from home and trying to get used to a different setting in the midst of the pandemic that’s happening. Some have also had to cancel weddings, stag dos, and hen dos – this must be so upsetting, especially because of the huge amount of time spent planning!
While making sure we’re okay we must also do what we can to help the vulnerable people in our society. It must be particularly hard for them as some aren’t able to leave their house for 12 weeks. We can do our bit to help and support them.
I also wanted to acknowledge and thank all the keyworkers who are helping the wider community during this difficult time. Many are sacrificing time with their families and even risking their lives to help others. It is so inspirational.
You can sign up to volunteer to help a vulnerable person by collecting their groceries, or help deliver vital NHS supplies on the NHS website: https://www.england.nhs.uk/participation/get-involved/volunteering/nhs-volunteer-responders/
Being surrounded with the threat of illness has given me flashbacks about what happened to me when I had my stroke, if other people will suffer in a similar way that I did, and if other people will be OK. Initially I felt very positive and strong and I was inspired to help others, but the last few days have been difficult. I’ve felt low, anxious and lost. I think everything has caught up with me and I have bottled up my feelings – which is never a good idea. Being on lockdown makes me feel stuck, like I don’t know where I am going. Everything has been put on pause and sometimes it’s difficult to see the end.
I know lots of us are feeling this way so it’s really important we support and help each other through this difficult time. We don’t know how long this will last but all we can control is our thoughts and behaviours. Take the necessary precautions – washing your hands, avoiding unnecessary travel, keeping a distance of 2m from others, and only go out when you need to. By following these guidelines, we are helping ourselves, each other and we will beat the virus sooner.
I’d like to know, how are you feeling? What is the first thing you will do when the lockdown ends? No doubt I will be seeing my friends and visiting my favourite restaurant! Please share how you are feeling so others know they are not alone, and maybe we can all help each other in some way.
Use this time to reflect and understand what you want to do when this is all over. It could be something for yourself or for helping others. The more you give in life the more you get back and even if it is one thing we learn from this experience that is an achievement in itself.
As they say there is light at the end of the tunnel……