The Valuable Lessons that Lockdown Taught Us
Whilst the Coronavirus pandemic eases its grip on society as pubs and schools reopen, we’re sadly not out of the woods yet. In fact, with localised lockdowns taking place in cities such as Leicester and Oldham and with many more on the watchlist, Covid19 is far from a thing of the past. With the pandemic having completely consumed 2020 and with many understandably labelling this year as a write-off, we thought we’d take a moment to sit down and list the positive lessons learnt from the negativity of lockdown – even the worst clouds have silver linings, right?
It’s okay not to be okay
Primarily, lockdown taught us the importance of looking after each other's mental health. The mental health charity, Mind, reported in a survey conducted during lockdown that people’s mental health deteriorated, regardless of whether they had previous mental health issues. 65% of adult participants with pre-existing mental health problems reported that their mental health had worsened, whilst the percentage was higher for participants with pre-existing mental health problems aged between 13-24, at 75%. Even the chirpiest of people have found themselves feeling confused, anxious and lonely. In fact, the Centre for Mental Health has predicted that around 500,000 more people in the UK will need mental health support as a result of the pandemic. For many of us, our minds wandered to some dark places, but lockdown taught us that that’s okay! We’re all human and so long as you get the help you deserve, stop being harsh on yourself for feeling lost, especially during a pandemic. We’re in this together.
Don’t take people for granted
Thanks to lockdown, I’m never missing a party again! Spending months cooped up like a chicken and drinking wine over facetime with your best mate isn’t quite the Friday night I had in mind for summer 2020. Lockdown reminded us that friendships are important, that meeting people and being part of a community is vital for a sense of identity, self-confidence and well, to stop us losing the plot. Yet more than that, lockdown taught us that we shouldn’t take the ones we love the most for granted. With the pandemic taking thousands of lives, it’s important to remember that family is who we make it, and that family can be taken away from us in the blink of an eye. Crucially, if we were lucky enough to have loved ones by our side over these past few months, we should all think about how to be a friendly face for the ones who are lonelier than you might be.
Don’t let FOMO take over your life
When the UK first went into lockdown all the way back in March, our world irrevocably shrunk, with the only form of socialising taking place behind a screen or on the other side of our neighbour’s fence. With graduations, birthday parties and even gym classes taking place over Zoom, for a society that already spends a huge amount of time glued to a screen, the necessity of this attachment to social media and technology has been for many, exhausting. The intensity of social media undoubtedly increased during lockdown, but if there’s one thing we’ve learnt, it’s that whilst social media and technology are great ways to keep connected, they cannot substitute reality. Taking a break from social media can be scary, with the fear of missing out even greater when real human interaction is limited, but sometimes, it’s important. Tell your friends that if they need you, they should ring you. Arrange that Zoom call, then switch off your phone until it’s time to ring. Delete Pinterest and instead of dreaming about being the main character, go out into the real world and be just that.
Whilst lockdown drew some people to download Tinder for the first time, it also drew some couples apart. Yet regardless of your relationship status, lockdown taught us that it’s important to look after yourself. Limited to the confines of our home, if you’re anything like me, the furthest you may have walked for a while was to the biscuit tin – and that’s okay! Self-love doesn’t always mean eating clean and green; sometimes it means eating that packet of cookies and there’s no better time to do so when the world looks like it’s five seconds away from falling apart. Lockdown taught us that we need to love our bodies and respect our minds. Date yourself, because we all deserve to love who we are and stop giving ourselves such a hard time.
Focus on the bigger picture
The last time the whole country was sat gathered around the TV was to watch the Gavin and Stacey Christmas special, so these daily briefings were intense. Yet they reminded us of the bigger picture. Suddenly, our daily worries appeared frivolous and instead, we had an individual responsibility to do our bit in protecting society. If lockdown taught us nothing else, it was that we need to regularly pop the bubbles we live in and remember that we’re a part of something much larger than our own little world. On that note, no matter how bad the situation was here in the UK, this pandemic has really put things into perspective: conflict, famine, domestic abuse and racism amongst other things, don’t stop for a pandemic. If you didn’t have to live through these things in addition to Corona, then thank your lucky stars and use your privilege to help those less fortunate.
Trust the process
With normal life coming to an abrupt halt for most people, lockdown made it easy to feel worthless. With schools, colleges and universities closing their doors early, people being made redundant from work, and with many of our hobbies sharply cut from our lives, we found ourselves with little to do (and consequently back at that biscuit tin). In other words, the pandemic really did put a middle finger up to our ambitious plans for 2020, but one thing that it did give us, was a break. In a world where we could no longer measure our success from exams or work reports, we were forced to measure success in more humble ways: how tasty our banana bread was. Lockdown taught us to trust the process. It’s okay to slow down a bit; success isn’t achieved over night.
Politics is important
The pandemic has highlighted many things, in particular that politics is more than just arguments in the House of Commons and a lot of finger pointing. Who funds the NHS matters. How we provide social support to the vulnerable matters. Public transport matters. Housing the homeless matters. The education system matters. But above all, our opinion matters, because when we vocalise our opinion, we influence the policies that matter.
Wash your hands
This one is self-explanatory. One pandemic is enough, thank you.