As we near the end of this second lockdown I find myself reflecting on my lockdown experience. I have heard from quite a few friends that they have found this second lockdown even harder than the first. Many people I know have struggled with mental health and feelings of isolation. Others are worried about finances and their job prospects. Surprisingly few of my friends seem worried about the implications of catching COVID. As a scuba diver and autoimmune patient catching COVID has been my main worry during this time. Fortunately I live in rural Suffolk which is low risk.
And so my lockdown experience has actually been really positive. Here are some of the reasons why:
Been there done that
As an autoimmune patient I have already had my battles with mental health and isolation. I have also been working remotely for years and have done a great deal of solo travel and so I am perfectly happy on my own. All of this means that when the first lockdown hit things really did not change that much for me. Ditto the second lockdown. I have my coping mechanisms well established. These include making an effort to try new things and not being afraid to do what other people might call “crazy”.
Started a new activity
Shortly before lockdown started I officially began wild swimming. To me wild swimming is actually just swimming outside – something I have done throughout my life during the summer months. The thing that makes it “wild” for me is the fact that we are now well and truly into winter. The outside temperature is hovering around 10 degrees while the sea surface temperature is around 11 degrees. I am very proud to say that I am still swimming regularly – and in a bikini! Some might call it crazy but it makes me feel amazing – physically and mentally.
Made new friends
Rather unexpectedly I will also be coming out of lockdown with more friends thanks to the wild swimming. We all swim at a lagoon at our stunning local beach. The downside of the location though is that you can only really swim at high tide. The upside of this though is that I have managed to meet four other women swimming at high tide. We now have a Whatsapp group and plan on meeting up for drinks post lock down. All being “crazy” and hardy we have joked that having to meet up outside makes no difference to us.
Identified a new sport to try
As well as the wild swimmers I have also met a few kite surfers. Thanks to one of them I have now had a go at land kiting and decided that I will be signing up for kite surfing lessons once lockdown finishes. Going out into the sea in a wetsuit will actually be a treat after bikini swimming!
Walked away from work
Something else I have done that some might qualify as “crazy” in this current climate is to walk away from work. My current client has been so happy with my work that they offered me a permanent or long term role to carry on doing what I do. This however acted as the nudge I had been needing. Instead of accepting their very generous offer I declined it. Not only that but I also declined any further contract extensions. I have decided it is time to try something different. I am considering taking some time off to build up some of my existing capabilities but also to consider what I really want to do. It means some of the things I had hoped to do (like buy a houseboat) will have to wait but I can live with that.
Made someone else happy
My mother celebrated her 80th last week. She was quite low at the thought, in part because of her plans were ruined by COVID. Initially she was going to rent a villa in Spain with friends. Then we had to move to having a large party in the village. That then got changed to a series of small events with a maximum of six people. Then lockdown happened and a restriction of only meeting one person outside. To deal with this I organised a rota of eight people to each spend 30minutes with her and a glass of champagne on a bench on Orford Quay. Unbeknown to her I also organised a drive by parade. At midday as she shared her first glass of bubbly with the first of her eight friends a whole possession of cars drove past, all decked out with balloons. To see her so overwhelmed and happy was amazing. Even more so when she informed me it was one of the best birthdays she has had.
Whilst things have not been all perfect for me I have made the effort to remain grateful. I have wonderful parents, great cats and amazing friends around the world. I live in the most beautiful place and am so happy living in a Suffolk village. On days when I feel low I just need to go for a walk to be reminded of what an amazing place I live in. I am even grateful for the extra 10kg I have put on … it adds extra insulation when I go swimming!
All of these things that made my lockdown experience positive are actually things we could all do in normal circumstances. We should all take a moment to make someone else happy or to make new friends. Too often we think the grass is greener elsewhere when really we should just be grateful for what we have. We should all take greater care of our mental health. Learning new activities and doing sport are vital to staying fit and healthy, mentally and physically. Too many people do not take risks in life and remain trapped in a job or situation they are not happy in.
Life is too short. From time to time we should all try something “crazy”. You never know it might just make you crazy happy, even in difficult times like we are currently living. So go on be brave!