Lockdown’s silver lining

  • Lockdown: shelter in place meant quiet city streets but busy households (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Lockdown: shelter in place meant quiet city streets but busy households (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

On a global scale, countries implemented lockdown or “shelter-in-place” policies, consigning millions of people to their homes and shutting down businesses of all kinds. The fear of contracting Covid-19 pervaded the atmosphere, from the fear of being isolated from family, friends, colleagues, and society in general, to the continuous influx of gloomy contagion-related news and stress regarding the future, finances, job security and the imminent economic recession.

All of this negatively impacted our mental health. Consequently, life has changed for all of us in every conceivable way, with no clear end in sight.

Of course, it is natural that, after staying at home for a while, many people craved freedom and were anxious to resume their usual lifestyle. Others expressed frustration, as they waited impatiently for lockdown to end or to at least ease up. For many I would imagine that lockdown felt like an oddly dreamlike existence, one that they could not wait to be over.

However, when looked at from a different perspective, being forced to restrict our movements has had a silver lining, as it has brought initially unforeseen advantages, and different means of social interaction, which can be adapted for use in a new normal way of life.

One could argue that it seemed as though Covid-19 was a command from Mother Nature ordering us to slow down. With this slower pace of life comes an opportunity for discovery and the realisation that, often, we do not have to go far at all to feel the enrichment of the world around us.

Here in beautiful Bermuda, we are joining other countries around the globe in slowly lessening some of the restrictions which were implemented during lockdown. Although it has been a stressful situation for the island, amid lockdown, plenty of positives have come to light.

I conducted a survey online through Facebook, where I asked people to list what they had achieved from lockdown. The positive responses far outweighed the negative ones.

As a people, despite all the obvious hardships, we are displaying incredible resilience. We seem to be adapting well to these challenging circumstances and we are learning to deal with all the ordeals effectively.

For example, Shellvina Caines, one of the responders, enthusiastically stated: “People have been very helpful and generous. I’ve spent countless hours of valuable time with my children. I’ve taught them things I likely wouldn’t have taught them otherwise.

“I’ve decided to go back to school to finish a degree that I started long ago. I’ve started working out again. I desperately needed a break from work and got it, albeit way longer than I wanted it to be.”

Evidently, at the family level, some people created inventive ways in which to spend quality time with each other. Hobbies and other leisure activities that had been on a back burner were resurrected.

Lockdown taught us to clearly differentiate between essentials and non-essentials in our lives. We are realising that our true needs are quite simple and that we can function perfectly well, even with the bare minimum. Most of us have temporarily given up on anything that we consider the slightest bit excessive.

Trisha Hayes said: “I made a watercolour, made lots of bread and great meals and walked a lot. I am currently doing a nutritional 11-day ‘shred’ challenge.”

We also learnt that the discipline of a structured routine was not just necessary for our jobs, our education, and our social commitments, but also for giving our day-to-day lives a sense of purpose. Having a schedule while confined to our homes helped us to increase productivity and kept us in good spirits. We have come to realise that it is possible to work from home and accomplish a lot, thanks to technology.

The words of Gail Proverbs, who lives in New York, ring out loudly for those who are dealing with health challenges. She maintains her indomitable spirit despite the devastation that Covid-19 caused in New York.

She said: “The swelling in my right knee, since surgery two years ago, finally went down tremendously from not being active on my feet for 18 hours, six days per week. Lupus has a mind of its own. The pain is just what it is with or without rest. We gotta live, love, and laugh out loud more, more and more. Let go of what we can’t control.”

In fact, lockdown gave all of us an opportunity to think with calm minds and take a long, hard look at our lives. Like the clutter in our closets, we are doing away with the disorder in our minds as well. Right now, some of us are practising mindfulness and learning to concentrate on the positives of the present situation.

One anonymous male responder chimed in: “I learnt that you don’t need to go to the gym to exercise, but that you can use nature, even within only 0.5 miles from your home, to hone your fitness and find peace mentally. I learnt that my wife and I can spend 24/7 together for weeks on end and not kill each other (which is good to know!).

“I learnt that I could work from home as effectively as from the office. I learnt that we don’t need as much to survive and be happy as we have been conditioned to think in this materialistic world — good food, exercise in the sunshine, plenty of sleep and the love of a good woman.”

Those of us who exercised at home, started a new workout regime, or exercised outdoors, not only contributed to our physical health, but to our overall wellbeing as well. So many families transformed the lockdown situation into a family vacation of sorts. In lots of households, the domestic chores became a fun family project.

Some families prepared homemade meals together, ate together, watched movies together, played games, relived good times from the past and created fabulous new memories, together. Ironically, being isolated from the world also allowed us to strengthen our relationships.

Before the virus struck, the prospect of working from home was not an option most people considered. Now it has become a daily reality! Award-winning tech entrepreneur Jo Wimble-Groves stated that the pandemic has shown that remote working is possible on a far wider scale than many companies thought. He added: “The speed with which these changes have come about may be unique, but the changes themselves were destined to happen at some stage.”

Another anonymous responder, said: “It all depends on the personality, mindset, preparedness, and adequacy of a parent. I am surprised at the percentage of parents who complained.

“If it is that hard, most likely it is the time to find more efficient ways to deal with that what doesn’t seem to flow or work, which is only as fun as you choose for it to be.

“This was an amazing opportunity to bond, teach, enrich, guide, and help evolve the life of our little humans with great spirit. A child’s attitude is more often a reflection of their trusted surroundings.

“I raised two stepchildren with my ex, had my own (and for a while as a single parent) and am now preggy with my very supportive partner. My own bad attitude, negative outlook and impatience reflects on my family I learnt quite quickly.

“Now that I am older and more experienced, I have learnt to manage my expectations, capabilities and with a better outlook on life. When something isn’t working out well, it is my responsibility to find more effective ways to create a co-operative and a more harmonious surrounding, at least for myself. And that will also reflect on my children.

“I don’t blame work (or the lack thereof), Covid, lockdown and especially not children or outside sources for my own shortcomings, difficulty, and misery. I focus less on problems and more on effective solutions. Everything starts with my own attitude in my own home.”

Some of us might grapple with our consciences and think that it is wrong to celebrate the positives that have come about as tens of thousands have died from the pandemic, and millions more face extreme hardship.

However, we all must make decisions that will determine whether we use what we have learnt to create a safer world for us and our loved ones. Lockdown was unmistakably an opportunity to reset our body clocks, rewire our brains, ameliorate the bad lifestyle habits followed prior to lockdown and plan the positive transformations we need to make in ourselves and our lives, which can be continued even when this crisis eventually abates.

Anne S. Leese, the author of From Mercury to Marvellous, has worked in the Caribbean, Germany, and England, and possesses a bachelor of arts in literature, and a master of arts in Globalisation, Development and Transition. She can be followed on https://www.facebook.com/merc2marv/ and https://www.instagram.com/merc2marv/

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Published Jun 4, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Jun 4, 2020 at 8:03 am)

Lockdown’s silver lining

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