“We made some valuable personal discoveries during lockdown – in between home workouts, yoga, baking bread and going for leisurely walks. It’s time to take those lessons with you into whatever’s next, writes Heidi.”
some days, it’s difficult to believe that lockdown really happened. One moment we were hugging loved ones, planning weddings and hopping on planes. The next, we were confined to our homes, canceling holidays and downloading an app we had never heard of called Zoom. When the pandemic began, none of us understood how much it would change our lives.
And it wasn’t all working in our pyjamas and celebrating the end of our commuting days. For many – key workers or those who lost loved ones especially – lockdown was an intensely challenging time that will forever leave its mark. But with restrictions on masks lifting, the easing of social distancing and all adults in the UK having been offered the Covid-19 vaccine, it’s possible to see some semblance of pre-pandemic life returning. In our rush to resume normality though, let’s not completely forget the revelations that came to us during one of the most abnormal years of our lives. Take some time to reflect on the lessons that you learned during the lockdown, and create space to carry them with you into the future – whatever it may hold.
If you… GOT PHYSICAL
Once ‘lockdown pounds’ became a thing and daily cocktail hour wore thin, many of us got into forms of exercise that we hadn’t tried before. From wild swimming and stand-up paddleboarding to trail running and unhurried daily walks, we found new ways to move our bodies for pleasure and not just fitness, while giving our mental health a much-needed boost. Now, many of these activities are falling by the wayside. It’s so much harder to persuade your teenagers to leave their screens for a family walk when that’s not the only reason they are allowed to leave the house, and they can see their friends!
How to hold on: It’s easy to consign lockdown activities to lockdown life, thinking we can’t possibly keep them up. Don’t sabotage your new habit by thinking you have to do it with the same frequency. Set a realistic expectation for post-lockdown life and consider yourself winning if you do it from time to time.
If you… IMPROVED YOUR WORK LIFE
For many of us, lockdown completely redrew the boundaries between our home lives and our careers – and we started to imagine a world without long commutes, pointless meetings and drab office cubicles. If you were one of the millions of people thrust into homeworking, whether you decamped to the spare room created a fancy garden office or claimed a corner of the kitchen table, we all discovered things about how we like to work and what fuels our productivity. (And what saps it – homeschooling while working and arguing over who’s hogging the wifi, anyone?)
How to hold on: Whether you itch to get back to the buzz or never want to get dressed for work again, think about what you discovered about your work preferences. List what you learned and reflect on how to incorporate it going forward. Don’t be wary about speaking to your boss about how to apply your lockdown learnings into your work life – they will benefit from a happier you.
If … HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS
From creating the perfect home office in limited space to turning your home into somewhere you truly want to be or giving your garden a makeover to maximise precious opportunities to interact with other people, we certainly looked at our living environments with fresh eyes during lockdown.
How to hold on: Consider how you feel about your home, and how your feelings changed during lockdown. If anything helped you appreciate your space at a deeper level, look at ways that you can extend that feeling. Are you decorating more often or using the garden in all weather? If your home became your sanctuary, think about how you can spend more intentional time enjoying it, instead of over-scheduling your life so that you’re rarely there.
If you…REVISED YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH TIME
Lockdown was certainly a lesson in time – how we use, and waste, it. Without our work commutes and social obligations, some of us had more time on our hands than we knew what to do with, while others found they had to do just as much work while simultaneously homeschooling the children. Either way, as we refill our schedules with all the things we missed during lockdown, remember to take a breath on those days when it feels as though there aren’t enough hours in the day all over again.
How to hold on: Whether you spent more time with the kids instead of driving them to a glut of after-school activities, discovered a love of gardening that time didn’t previously allow or found yourself in the kitchen, cooking your way to peace of mind, make space in your post-lockdown life for the things that brought you joy while the world was on pause.
If you… DISCOVERED A MINDFULNESS PRACTICE
With more time on our hands, many of us found our thing when it comes to a mindfulness practice. From carving out space to meditate to starting the day reading instead of racing out the door, it seems our heightened need for calm helped us find the rituals that keep us grounded. Carla Collins, founder of wellbeing and positive affirmation brand Love Up Love You, found lockdown allowed her to prioritise her morning routine, making time for meditation, journalling and positive affirmations. ‘Starting my day using these tools was my calm in the chaos – they allowed me to quieten my inner critic, focus on the positives and not spiral into overwhelm. They enabled me to create and sustain a healthier mindset that meant happier, calmer days,’ she says.
How to hold on:Whether you signed up for an online Buddhist meditation retreat or found a few soulful moments alone in the garden with a cup of tea, ask yourself which practices helped you feel most peaceful in the midst of the pandemic – and commit to making the time to continue them.
If you… LEARNED A NEW SKILL
Not all of us became proficient on the guitar or taught ourselves a foreign language during lockdown. For many of us, it was a period of dealing with intense emotional stress. But one of the best things we learned was how to practise our resilience and cope with one of most difficult times imaginable.
How to hold on: It doesn’t matter whether you took up a new hobby or developed your skills in less tangible ways. The key thing is to acknowledge how you grew during a time of great strain – and recognise that you can carry that resilience and resourcefulness with you into the next chapter of life. (But if, God forbid, we ever face another lockdown, I am definitely taking up the guitar.)
If you… FOUND LOVE
Whether you adopted a puppy, found love online while in-person dating was out, or just appreciated your loved ones in new ways while unable to see them, many of us found more room in our hearts for love during lockdown. There was also heartbreak. Divorces happened, relationships unravelled and many people lost loved ones under circumstances we could never have imagined. But, if we learned anything during this time, it’s that life is short and people matter.
How to hold on: Reflect on the people you missed most or those relationships that changed significantly during the pandemic. Send a postcard telling the person how much they mean to you. If a relationship ended or you were bereaved, write a comforting letter to yourself from your future self saying things will improve. Seal it, and add a reminder to your calendar to reread it in a year’s time.