Life lessons learnt in lockdown.
The coronavirus pandemic has turned our world upside down for the last few weeks and it's plenty easy to focus on the negatives that came with life in lockdown. Things are now slowly starting to reopen and we can see our family, partners and friends without the weight of guilt and fear.
However, people are still getting and some are tragically passing away from complications associated with the virus. Holidays and festivals are effectively cancelled for right now and weddings and major celebrations are set to look different for the foreseeable. Plans for the summer seem nebulous and even weekends no longer have the same appeal. Hell, even trips to the salon feel like the ultimate luxury!
I am, by nature, a 'glass-half-full' kinda gal (sun sign Saggitarius, Leo rising ), but my time spent in isolation has really pushed the limits of my positivity at times. I've fretted about not 'making the most' of the extra time, I've beat myself up for lacking my usual motivation when it comes to exercise and I've had moments of paralysing powerlessness thinking about the state of the world.
The first half of 2020 has been a testing one with months full of loneliness, uncertainty and confusion. And even now, as lockdown restrictions ease and we move towards some semblance of normality, I'm still not convinced that we're remotely close to being in the clear, but I'm forcing myself to seek out the silver linings regardless.
If this is the world's way of forcing us to learn a few new life lessons, these are the ones I really hope to remember when COVID-19 is a distant memory.
It's the little things...
At the beginning of this pandemic, panic buying swept the world and people turned into the worst possible versions of themselves. But now, as that selfishness abates and humanity realises that the only way we're actually making it through this is together, we're seeing value again, in living with what we have.
Buying a jumbo pack of toilet roll won't spark the joy that sharing some fresh fruit or vegetables with an elderly neighbour will. Nor will stocking up on disinfectant wipes cheer you up the way enjoying the sun on your face might. I'm really making a conscious effort to count my blessings in this way and be so grateful for how much I already have… and how little I actually need.
There is no job hierarchy
Before this strange age of social distancing and lockdown, I would have been guilty of associating people's worth or success with their chosen profession. However, thanks to the coronavirus, many of us have come to realise the absolute necessity and importance of supermarket employees, care workers, delivery drivers, rubbish collectors, teachers, nurses, doctors, farmers, bakers and so many others.
This pandemic has inverted all notions of a job hierarchy and I hope we come out the other side of it with the utmost respect for those who are compromising their health to keep the essential pieces of our world moving. A sentiment which extends to all of the people who are risking everything to get the Irish economy moving again, by facilitating the reopening of hair and beauty salons, restaurants, pubs and retail units.
Nature is the ultimate gift
As other Saggitarians reading this will attest to, the great outdoors is a huge part of who we are and often, if I haven't been in nature for a while, I experience this sudden urge to be deep in a forest or craving being by the sea. Suffice to say, the last few months have been difficult. What has gotten me through though is the good news stories about the planet healing itself; fresh fish return to the waters of Venice, the Himalayas being visible from India for the first time in 30 years, declining bee populations starting to recover and a slash (albeit temporary) in air pollution levels around the world.
When we do return to normal day-to-day life, all of these environmental improvements should serve as a reminder of how much impact we collectively have upon the world – and that we should do everything in our power to protect mother nature going forward.
Human connections trump everything else
Right now, there's nothing I'd like to do more than drop in to see my parents unannounced. I miss bodies, the warmth of sitting close to people, high-fives and long hugs. Real-life human connections are the essence of wellbeing, and while, technology has done a good job at helping to fill that contact-chasm daily, the period of isolation has made me all the more certain that nothing really compares to physically being together in real-time.
Sneaky after-work drinks on Friday evenings in the local, hungover belly-laughs with friends at brunch, the back-slaps my dad is convinced count as a hug, kissing my granny on both cheeks (she's classy like that) before leaving – a shortlist of the many things I endeavour to never, ever take for granted again.
Life Really Is Worth Living
Being locked behind closed doors for hours on end did indeed set the perfect scene for reflection – probably more than I was comfortable with, to be honest – but it meant I had time to commit to memory exactly what I learned during quarantine. In particular, how truly precious life is.
Post-commune-living, and knowing what I do, I hope that I’ll make time to see the people I love whenever I can and appreciate the hell out of them always. That I'll practise balance when it comes to physical and mental health (i.e. both pizza + gym). That I'll take lunch-breaks and finish work on time to enjoy the longer evenings. Travel to all of the countries on my bucket list. Allow my creative juices to flow. Go on nights out. Put my phone down more and be present. Aim for what I want, when I want it. Be bravely honest. Love hard. Prioritise being a better human, daughter, sister, partner, friend, neighbour.
Who's with me?
Main image: @quotesbychristie