Over the last few months, when social distancing has become the norm and tried and tested routines have been thrown out of the window, it’s become increasingly apparent that we all need some tools to help us get through the day—or on a heavier note, life.
Where once we might organise a night with friends or a weekend away after a rubbish week or flat period, we’re now erm… slightly more restricted. Yes, lockdown is somewhat over and technically we can go out, but we still have to have our guards up a little. Anyway, this brings me onto those little things in life that make everything seem better when the chips are down. For some, it’s running. For others, it’s cooking. For me, it’s the following….
I was in the middle of the brilliant Purity by Jonathan Franzen when Covid became very real here in the UK around mid-March. And do you know what I did? I put it down and didn’t pick it up for about 3 weeks. Instead, I spent any spare time when I wasn’t working reading and watching the news incessantly and generally just fretting about everyone I know and their health and wellbeing. I really didn’t have a good grip on things (and I’m still not sure I do).
This was pre-Lockdown, before Zoom quizzes became the thing and alcohol-fuelled hazes did their bit to try and make things seem better. Little did I know, I was calling out for a good read. Three weeks later, once we’d settled into lockdown, I picked up my book again and felt a lightened relief. Of course, it’s unnatural to be reading all of the time and it can be sometimes difficult to concentrate when things are rubbish, but one or two hours of escapism via reading really does make all the difference.
Listening to podcasts
As a freelance copywriter, I spend a lot of my working day by myself and all of my working day by myself. I do have the odd Zoom call and used to go down to London or elsewhere for the odd meeting but usually, I’m working by myself.
When I finally discovered the world of podcasts around two years ago, I seriously think my life changed for the better and I now have about 10 or so that I couldn’t imagine life without. I can’t listen to them when I’m actually writing, but when I’m doing mundane admin tasks, walking, cooking, washing up, cleaning the bathroom and driving, I’ve got one playing. They range from light and funny to serious and random and they just make me feel like I’m in good company as I go about my day—a little like having the radio on, I suppose. My favourites include: How to Fail with Elizabeth Day, Happy Place by Fearne Cotton, The Adam Buxton Podcast, Ctrl Alt Delete, Ways to Change the World, The High Low, iWeigh, The Sunday Salon, You Must Remember This and In Writing with Hattie Crisell.
Practising a bit of yoga
I must note that I never thought I would be the type of person to write the following sentence but here goes. 5-10 minutes of yoga in the morning makes such a difference to my day. After years of being a gym phobe (I hated PE and any competitive sports as a kid), I got into Body Balance, yoga and pilates in Spring 2018 after joining one of the local gyms and making myself go. Quickly, I was in the habit of going to three classes a week. I absolutely loved it.
As with most things, any progress was very gradual. I couldn’t even touch my toes prior to yoga, but within about six months I could finally do it comfortably. Each and every stretch started with pain but then began to feel amazing. At last, I appreciated the beauty of exercising and stretching and using your body to progress your wellbeing. I used to think it was all a myth. But with yoga, I finally understood what it was all about.
I still haven’t been to a class post-Covid lockdown and I miss it (understandably my gym has drastically cut classes and reduced capacity) but I try to do my bits at home now. I’ve had days where I just can’t be bothered (many of them) but I really feel the effects when I don’t at least do an imperfect downward dog.
Speaking to people in the actual flesh
When lockdown hit, those of us that were lucky enough went into hibernation. It was weird and scary, but most of us were just glad to be doing the right thing: staying safe, shielding our loved ones and protecting the NHS (while looking at anybody working on the front line with absolute awe). Zoom calls became a thing, lockdown quizzes were standard and after a few too many, people cried, laughed and debated about the state of the world into the early hours. (No? Just me?)
Anyway, when lockdown gradually lifted, it became clear how important the little things like nipping to see family and popping out for dinner were. Like most people, I struggle with not seeing and chatting to people regularly and it took social distancing to make me realise how much so. Now, when we have the chance, I’m going to vow to continue cherishing the moments when we’re all together (keeping numbers to a maximum of six, of course). Zoom calls are good and all, but they’re definitely not a long-term replacement.
Recording and listening to voice notes
Ahhhh voice notes. Thank you to a certain someone for introducing me to these things almost two years ago. When things get down, I get Whatsapp out and record and listen to voice notes with some of my friends (many people still don’t like it or find it weird, which I get). For me, even just the act of talking out loud for a few minutes is therapeutic in itself. And with busy everyday lives taking over, it’s great to catch up in our own time, without distractions and interruptions. I’ve definitely strengthened some good relationships over voice note.
Now, I think it’s worth mentioning that I started this blog post over a week ago and swiftly abandoned it (probably because I felt massively self-indulgent writing it, among other reasons). But then I told myself to get a grip and reminded myself that I committed to writing a blog and was stuck for other ideas so what the hell else would I write about. Also, I think I have 2 readers or something and I hate not finishing things.
At the time of writing this actual paragraph, things are once again looking a little uncertain in the world of Covid-19 and global news in general. It’s also just about to turn 8 pm so I think that’s my cue to grab my book. Until next time.
Stay safe x
Thank you for reading. Come back next week, when I’ll be discussing errr… goodness knows what. I’ll think of something.