Lockdown has given us a golden opportunity to locate what it is that helps our wellbeing. As the old adage goes, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, and let’s not pretend the world before lockdown was perfect either; in many ways, it has taught us what we shouldn’t keep around once we do ease restrictions. Like testing what you’re allergic to through taking items out of your diet, lockdown has allowed us to see what it is we need and what it is we don’t by enforcing a strange simplicity. With this in mind, here are a few lessons we can glean from lockdown.
Physical Contact > Social Media
If innumerable zoom pub quizzes taught us anything (other than the odd capital city and some animal Latin names), it’s that physical conversation and the mere presence of friends can never be substituted by virtual imitations. Even the most stubborn misanthropists are at the end of 4 months craving the sound of chatter and the company of good friends sat around a table. Going forward, we would do well to remember this when we cannot be asked to put on a pair of trousers and follow through with a plan we made when feeling far more sociable. In short, lockdown has taught us the value of our friends’ company, and the shortcomings of social media in delivering this. Whilst video calling and Facebook mean our friends are only a click away, there’s far more reward in getting up and out to see them.
Nature Is Healing
Too many of us took nature for granted, and when lockdown came, suddenly remembered its true value. Daily ambles kept us sane between meetings, and fresh air cleared our anxious minds which were overloaded with shocking headlines. A return to nature puts everything into perspective, and is an inherently meditative experience. In the middle of any momentous occasion, watching the birds continue as normal or listening to the wind through trees can settle the mind. After lockdown, let’s ensure we get outside and into greenery whenever we can, reaping the mental and physical benefits of Mother Nature.
Too Much News Is Stress Inducing and Not All That Helpful
Daily headlines listing death tolls and blaring images of patients on breathing machines did nothing but fuel our anxiety and create stress, and in reality, didn’t help us to combat the virus at all. Beyond 5pm updates about lockdown measures, much of the news didn’t tell us anything we needed to know. Lockdown was a stark reminder that much of the news is crafted to shock, and that consuming more doesn’t mean you’re any better equipped to tackle the problems it covers. Going forward, we should all detox from the news and stick to long form, educational pieces over the daily doom being broadcast. Most importantly, don’t try to address every problem that’s broadcast, as it’ll only create one more casualty; you. In the internet age and with global news we can end up carrying the weight of the world on our backs like Atlas. Do your part, but not at the expense of your wellbeing.
Boredom Is Beneficial
At some point we all got bored, and for many, this actually kick-started important realisations. Many took up new hobbies and committed to learning a new skill, whilst others reconnected with old hobbies they abandoned as they grew older. In short, lockdown taught us all that boredom is essential, and that sitting with our thoughts in moderation is vital for self-discovery and creativity. Firstly, let’s not abandon these pastimes when the 9–5 slug begins, but foster them and keep looking for things that get us up in the morning. Secondly, when you have the opportunity to run to the pub again because you’ve run out of Netflix series to binge, consider setting aside some time to go inwards instead.
Routine Is the Foundation of Wellbeing
At first, many of us acted like kids in the summer holidays; staying awake as late as possible because we could. But soon the novelty faded, and wasted days took their toll. In short, Lockdown reminded many of us that although getting up early and exercising some self discipline is tough, it’s an important building block in fostering wellbeing, having a fixed daily routine gives some predictability to your life which can settle an anxious mind when everything else seems uncertain.
Written by Ross Carver-Carter
Ross Carver-Carter is a Politics and International Relations graduate with a passion for promoting mental health literacy in the workplace and beyond. He has written extensively on wellbeing and the reality of living with a mental health disorder.