10 Things I Love About Lockdown (so far)
Before I say anything, this is not about trivialising the reasons why we are all in lockdown, or to brush over why many people might be really struggling with it. I know these are grave and worrying times. My 97-year-old Nan is in a care home, I miss my family and friends and me and my partner, both freelancers, lost all our work due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
I can’t help but feel thankful for the lessons I am learning each day in lockdown. It has brought me a sense of peace and contentment, and a stillness I had been searching for – without even knowing it.
1. Noticing nature (more)
Every spring, for I don’t know how long, I have vowed to myself that I will watch spring happen. That I will catch the leaves unfurling and see the trees change. Yet every April their branches are bare one day and green the next. It seems to happen in the blink of an eye – and I miss it.
This spring, our one-walk-a-day has become precious time spent with my partner Alex and our six-month-old spaniel Lucy. There is a tree in our local park – I don’t even know what it is – but I’ve watched its buds gradually opening; new leaves – new life – peeking through, reaching for the sun. Over two or three days they burst forth, pirouetting into the world, flinging off their delicate pink shrouds, which fall to the ground like confetti. I have finally seen spring happen.
2. No more FOMO
I get chronically bad FOMO. The Fear of Missing Out. That panicky feeling of “I should be doing this” or “I should be doing that”. Finding it difficult to settle at one thing (or contentedly do nothing) for fear I’m missing out on the most AMAZING things that will make the most AMAZING memories that will make my life so much richer, and happier, and better and…oh God, it’s exhausting. And now the FOMO has gone. There is nothing to miss out on. And the head silence is bliss.
3. Better mental health
I’ve battled a demon called Anxiety for most of my adult life. He’s a familiar foe who I pretty much know how to handle these days, but I’ve noticed he’s not around much in lockdown. I know why. He only comes knocking when I push myself too hard or live too fast or tell myself I’m not doing enough. Slowing my life down seems to have shut him up too.
4. Better sleep
Probably linked to the above but for the first time in a very long time, I sleep soundly and deeply. Alex can snore away happily without getting kicked in the night.
5. Talking to friends and family more
Most of my friends live in other parts of the country. We meet up a few times a year but rarely speak in between. We now have a regular Sunday night Zoom call, with wine, that goes on for two or three hours. We haven’t spoken this much since we all lived together in our mid-20s in Birmingham. It feels wonderful to see their faces and hear their voices every few days instead of every few months.
6. Learning to bake
I’m really bad at it (see the Poppadom Bread disaster on Twitter) but oh, the simple joy of weighing out flour, watching white puff clouds settle on kitchen surfaces and sliding a tray of something doughy into a pre-heated oven. It stirs childhood memories of Mum sprinkling flour and rolling out pastry for mince pies at Christmas. Yes, my ‘jam cushions’ look like weird boobs with exploding nipples – but I made them and I’m proud!
7. Learning to cross stitch
Literally the last thing I ever thought I would do with my fish-like attention span. Turns out I can lose hours threading needles, counting stitches and mentally appraising every single tiny square. When cross-stitching, I think of nothing else.
8. A new sense of community
Before the lockdown I could name two people on our street. I now know seven different households. We have a WhatsApp group, we wave to each other while clapping for the NHS and one lady has started a Sunday night singalong where we dance outside our houses. Yes, waving your arms in the air to S Club 7 and jumping around your wheelie bin singing “Reach for the stars” is horrifically cringey. But it helps when you see a 6ft bearded bloke across the street joining in too.
9. Helping others
Such a tiny drop in the ocean compared to what the NHS and other key workers are doing right now, but little things feel good. A Tesco shop for a family in isolation (I’ll never forget the little girl waving at me through the window, beaming because she knew we’d left Haribo on the doorstep). Taking a meal round for an elderly neighbour who lives alone. Making a point of saying ‘thank you’ to the checkout staff in Aldi – letting them know you see what they do.
Perhaps the most wonderful gift of all. The excitement at seeing loved ones, the anticipation of a celebration. We are planning a Victory over the Virus street party (VV Day) with our new neighbour friends, a few days away with my parents and sisters and a big celebration for Alex’s Mum’s 70th birthday. I look forward to seeing the farm, putting my arms around Mum and Dad, laughing with my sisters and drinking in a pub with our friends. I will do all of these things with thanks and gratitude. We may face hardship and loss before we reach that point – but, whatever happens, I’m so happy to have that hope.