Trying to introduce the topic of lockdown on a blog is a weird one. Even now, after months of this new normal, it feels strangely uncomfortable to put it in writing. I’m trying to imagine how I would explain this to people in 30 years’ time: in March 2020, we were told we had to stay in our homes to save lives because a deadly virus was rife across the world. We couldn’t go to work, see loved ones or even go to the shop unless for food. The stuff of sci-fi novels became a BBC daily news bulletin and everything changed in a feel-it-in-the-pit-of-your-stomach way.
A few days before the severity really hit the UK, I, disturbed by the rumbles of impending chaos, packed up my things from my Putney flat and sought refuge in my childhood home. I stowed a handful of cold-weather outfits, my laptop and my staple beauty items into my suitcase and cleared my kitchen cupboards of as much food as I could – I genuinely feared that my family might not be able to eat properly. I, much more a Gemma Collins in the jungle than a Bear Grylls on the island, was in my own sort of survival mode.
The few weeks that I naively thought I’d be home for transpired to be a few months and counting. My jeans and woolly jumpers were relegated instantly for workout gear (for lounging purposes, obvs) and summer clothes, because wow, did summer hit us early. Days stopped being defined by my planner and became more fluid, foggy entities shaped only by the fact that I still worked Monday to Friday – a saving grace for so many reasons.
Outside of my new work set-up, I found different ways to spend my free time and a whole new means of socialising with my friends. My relationship became entirely WhatsApp and Zoom based, save for the odd joint screening of Tiger King. And within the sticky, uncomfortable adaptation to a new, temporary, way of life were actual pockets of tranquil happiness. Here are the things that kept me sane in lockdown, as told by my camera roll.
Something to Celebrate
When your days are monotonous and uneventful, having an excuse to celebrate something, ANYTHING, has proven to be the sure-fire way to bring some excitement back into the picture. In lockdown, I’ve been able to clink a glass to three family birthdays and Father’s Day, during which the living room became The Locked Inn and drinks were served to a soundtrack of ‘pub noise’ from YouTube. The only thing missing was a sticky carpet and a bar to elbow-barge our way up to – two things I never thought I’d fondly reminisce.
Time to Unwind
I desperately didn’t want to refer to this as self care because I’m trying not to ooze cliches, but who am I kidding: this girl has been caring for herself. Baths have been running, books have been read, candles have been burnt and it has been glorious. It’s as though the introvert in me was crying out for an excuse to hunker down for a while – the ultimate recharge moment – and even though these are awful circumstances for it to have happened, I’m really grateful that I’ve been able to have this time. My morning alarm has been shunted to 8am instead of 6:30 and I’ve traded make-up for a slightly more indulgent skincare routine – superficial, maybe, but also incredibly comforting when the things that usually make you feel ‘put together’ fall by the wayside.
Room for (Off-Screen) Activities
When lockdown was announced, there were a number of things people panicked about beyond the obvious health anxiety. For some unknown reason one of them was loo roll stocks, and the other was ‘what the hell am I going to do to pass the time’. I made sure that whatever I filled my day with would be a step away from the screen – be it phone, laptop or TV – and it’s something I definitely want to carry through even once normality resumes in its new, unfamiliar state. Puzzles and painting by numbers filled the rainy days, and I’ve made more room for cooking, working out and reading now that the pace of life has eased up more pockets of time.
Walking for Walking’s Sake
Pre-Covid 19 lockdown, I walked to Putney Bridge station daily in a fluster, my hair assaulted by the wind as I crossed the Thames and my feet fatigued by power walking in heeled boots. Us Londoners move fast, frantically and frustratedly at all times and those who obstruct our path are met with eye rolls and sighs with no discretion. And now? A walk doesn’t need a purpose or a destination, or a sprinting pace. It takes me to quiet fields where horses and deer will sometimes say hello, or – and I’m not even ashamed – on a slow meander down private roads with gargantuan houses that I can analyse with my sister. Nope, that multi-million pound mansion just isn’t for me, I’d only go for the even bigger one with the thatched roof and rose trellis, thank you very much.
Are lockdown routines and pastimes going to feed into our daily lives when things go ‘back to normal’? I hope that some elements of mine will, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.