Depending where you are in the world, Covid-19 may or may not feel like it’s easing up. For many this is a positive sign. We’re excited to get back to some form of ‘normal’. To see friends, possibly return to work or offices and have access to public spaces. For others of us, we may be a bit more sceptical. We wonder if the ease in restrictions will mean a second wave? Or if people will abide by regulations still in place. So, are there any silver linings to Covid-19 and the lockdown that ensued?
An interesting report I read on the MentalElf showcased the findings of teenager Eshal Sajid. She conducted research via questionnaire to find about people’s experience of lockdown. Only a handful of people responded ranging from adults to teenagers. You can read the research here.
Due to the small sample size, we can’t say these results are indicative of a population response it got me thinking. And I was surprised that people were experiencing positive side effects of lockdown. And that I had heard similar things echoed by friends and family. In social media communities and the people attending my facilitated sessions on managing mental health during lockdown.
1. Self Care
In an earlier blog post, published as lockdown began, I was challenging myself to rethink my anxiety around Covid-19. Instead of thinking about all the things I couldn’t do and all the restrictions. I decided I’d use this extra time I suddenly seemed to have. And, if there was one thing I never quite got around to prioritising (more here), it was self-care. So, I pledged to use lockdown to get into better self-care habits which I could carry on using post-Covid-19.
And I don’t seem to be the only one. In sessions I’ve ran during Covid-19 we’ve been highlighting self-care as a survival strategy; rather than the luxury it’s often viewed as. I remind people that self-care is what keeps us going for longer. It shores up our reserves to boost energy, motivation, productivity and mood. Whilst acknowledging it’s not a replacement for professional help or support if we need it.
During the sessions I’ve asked people to share what they’ve been doing for self-care. The first time I asked I was suprised at how many people were doing self-care. Thinking back to pre-Covid-19 discussions people weren’t as open about self-care. Didn’t have as many ideas and often would dismiss it as something they didn’t have time for (guilty as charged). If I have one hope for post-lockdown. It’s that people stick to these self-care habits and routines once things return to normal. Having, perhaps, finally had the opportunity to recognize how beneficial self-care can be.
I think we can all acknowledge that we’ve all had times where we’ve not felt motivated to exercise. Click here for tips to find that motivation). But it seems that lockdown is changing our mindsets.
At the start of lockdown I read an article suggesting that because initial restrictions only allowed people out once a day to exercise. More people were taking the opportunity to be active and get outside. We saw such an uptake in exercising habits that it raised concerns that people were pushing themselves too hard without rest days. Likewise, this article, suggests that whilst exercise is good for our immune response. If we push ourselves too much it can have the opposite effect. And this one, provides guidance on overexercising and how to kickstart better habits without over doing it.
The need to get out and have some fresh air seems to have motivated us to kick up our exercise game; or perhaps even start an exercise regime. Perhaps, like with self-care it’s a time thing. Or that Covid-19 has made us all aware of our own mortality. Whether it’s the lure of outside, something to do with your time or the quest for a healthy lifestyle. Our newfound urge to exercise can only be a good thing provided we are doing it safely. And as usual the rule of thumb is balance and finding what’s right for us. Not only, how much is right (particularly if starting out) but also what kinds of exercise do I enjoy?
Our next challenge, as restrictions ease, is to maintain and not let all our hard work be for naught. Let’s start thinking about how we can continue to maintain exercising as life gets busier. Perhaps we have a newfound love for working out at home with new equipment? Or we’ve discovered new online classes and joined new communities we’d like to maintain. Having pushed ourselves to exercise outside we may want to keep to our regular walks/runs etc. Or the new exercise videos we’ve discovered online may fit better in our busy schedule. Whatever it is, make it work for you.
3. Better Relationships
For some of us lockdown has meant enforced isolation. And as I discuss in this post, when isolation is not a choice loneliness often ensues. But for those lucky enough to be in lockdown with people and most importantly people we get on with, and are safe with, there may be an upshot. Some have reported finding new ways to relate to others or to reconnect.
This article by BBC Future gives an interesting insight into both the highs and lows relationships have faced. Whilst there have been difficulties which need acknowledging, for example a rise in domestic violence and fears for at risk youth particularly in the LGBT category. It’s not all bad.
During the pandemic we’ve been thinking about the way we navigate relationships during Covid-19 in terms of ones mental health. Sometimes these have been between partners, sometimes between peers and often between parents and young people. It seems that Covid-19 has brought our relationships and how we feel about them into the spotlight.
But for those of us who may be occasionally at loggerheads within our homes, but otherwise safe in our relationships. There’s much food for thought. In the MentalElf research previously mentioned, young people and their parents found that Covid-19 provided them with increased time to bond. This has been echoed in conversations I’ve been having with people and in webinars with professionals. There have undoubtedly been new relationship obstacles to overcome. But it seems that Covid-19, in some cases, has brought us closer together. With less distractions from the outside world we’re spending more time together as families.
And it’s not just families who may be reaping the benefits. Partners may be as well. Despite a reported rise in divorces in China and speculation about whether this will be a global trend. Others have been finding new and innovative ways to spend time together. Whether it’s affectively using technology if you’ve been apart from your partner. Or exploring new ways to have fun together and not tread on each other’s toes within the home. Some of us may be experiencing a surge of connectedness within these relationships. One person was telling me that Covid-19 gave them the excuse to finally move in with each other. And so far so good!
And for those of us who find socializing overwhelming the virtual world has been a blessing. Speaking to a group on the topic of relationships one mentioned that online socializing is an introverts paradise. Their experience of lockdown has eased the pressure to socialize. And particularly the pressure to socialize in larger groups which may be daunting. Let’s remember that as things get back to normal, we may need to ease back into socializing! It’s great if we’re feeling excited about seeing people but perfectly normal if not.
What have been some of the unexpected bonuses of Covid-19? Have you noticed any additional ones or found that any of the above have worked for you? As usual, let me know below!