It’s been just over a week since Boris Johnson announced via a television broadcast that the UK was to go into a planned “lockdown” (with further restrictions being introduced in Ireland – north and south – shortly thereafter).
I’m now in my third week of self-isolation (I started on March 16th) and even though I was previously used to WFH, at times, even I’ve found the past week a struggle. It’s been long and exhausting and just hard.
With the “free time” I subsequently found on my hands, I assumed it would be a great opportunity to finish writing my book, or read a few more of the novels cluttering up my bookshelf, or bake, or draw, or finally learn how to play my bodhran properly; and while I’ve managed a couple of the above tasks, generally I was finding it difficult to concentrate. I think one of the reasons for this was because even though we’re doing everything we can at home to stay healthy and safe, the threat of this virus is constantly there.
It’s on the news; social media; group chats… it’s never-ending and inescapable.
Which is fine, if you’re happy to read and listen to it all, but it was starting to affect my mental health and everything just overwhelmed me at the weekend. So, I had a good cry.
I cried because I felt scared and angry and helpless.
I cried because I couldn’t go out for a run.
I cried because I can’t have coffee with my friends.
I cried because I am unable to visit my grandparents.
I cried because I wasn’t able to give my sister a hug.
I cried because I wanted ice cream and my mum had made some.
Once I calmed down, I felt a little better but I’d been so distressed and anxious that I was convinced I was going to make myself really ill just by stress alone (I’ve already dropped a jeans size), so I decided I needed to make a few changes to my daily routine. Immediately, I stopped watching the news and drastically scaled back my time on social media – and it’s helped. A lot.
I’m also taking things a day at a time right now, finding stuff to keep myself occupied and keep a more healthy state of mind.
Before my social media hiatus, I read of others who plan to use their “free time” to accomplish those tasks they’ve always set aside until they’d more time on their hands; and that’s great, but even if others might be accomplishing something incredible, it doesn’t mean we should be made to feel like our own goals aren’t important or worth doing. In the same way, just because others might be thriving being at home right now, we shouldn’t worry if we are finding it a challenge.
Right now, if I can help bake a banana loaf (see above photo) to take my mind off the situation for half an hour, I’m calling it an accomplishment.
If it takes me an hour to make a questionable attempt at drawing a bumblebee (see above photo) and then painting it so that I can forget about Covid-19, I’m calling it an accomplishment.
If I can go into the back garden and sit with my dog (see right) for an hour, I’m calling it an accomplishment.
If I make a video call to my grandparents to check in with them and they are still smiling and happy and healthy, I’m calling it more than an accomplishment.
What is also important right now, is remembering that if you are finding things tough, you will not be the only person in such a position. It’s even more important to know that you can – and should – reach out to someone if you need to. It’s okay.
Even though I’m not on social media as much now, and a lot of my friends are taking a break from it too, we’ve made sure we still have each other’s details so anyone can send a message or phone call whenever they need to talk or need help. Even if it’s just a daily check-in, it makes a real difference.
Just this morning, I needed help with something and I was overwhelmed (in a really positive way) at the offers of assistance from friends, not to mention a few strangers too. Despite the upsetting circumstances we are in, kindness and compassion can be found in abundance.
If you need help, please don’t be scared to ask.
Stay safe, everyone.