If you’d told me even two months ago the immediate future would hold a social distancing / lockdown period, like many, I wouldn’t have believed you. But here we are, caught in what feels like a surreal bubble for an unknowable period of time. While listening to the radio yesterday I felt extremely saddened by an interview I heard with a man who had lost his aunt to the coronavirus just a few days ago. For some reason the reality of the Covid-19 pandemic really hit me at that point.

 

I suppose it’s taken this long because I’ve felt fairly ‘removed’ from things on a personal level. Not to say I’m not concerned for the health and wellbeing of loved ones, and the world at large; I very much am. But in terms of coping mechanisms and general daily life, I am aware I am luckier than most. As an introvert I can normally withdraw from the world with relative ease. As a 6-yr-old with chicken pox, when informed my extremely busy social calendar was being reduced to only indoor, solitary activities for the foreseeable, I accepted my fate with a mock-glum expression then practically skipped up the stairs to organise the first of many teddy-bear tea parties. So, when Boris relayed the social distancing guidelines, as much as I was fearful of the change I would be lying if I said my introvert antenna hadn’t pricked up. What’s that, you say, Mr Johnson? Stay at home; read, cook, and binge-watch readily available box sets?? Avoid the supermarkets as much as possible?? Actively encourage the use of technology to keep in touch with loved ones without having them invade my personal space?! Well… if you insist!

 

So why then, am I not feeling peaceful and serene? The noise and hustle and bustle of the world that I can often find draining, has abated, and I keep reminding myself this may be an opportunity for me to recharge. When I really examined it, I realised two things. Firstly: I feel guilty. Many people are struggling with financial hardship, loneliness, health issues, and worries about loved ones. Although certainly not invincible, I have a lesser chance of these things affecting me. I can work from home, am in good health, live with people (albeit my parents – more on this later!) and those I am concerned about are currently safe and/or being cared for by dedicated frontline staff. But on some level, the gratitude I feel is tainted. I don’t feel it’s ‘fair’ of me to take any good from the situation, or to use silver linings to enhance my own wellbeing given the circumstances, however counter-intuitive this may be. This is something I wrestle with daily, and have to keep remembering that if I don’t put the oxygen mask on myself first, I’m not much good to anyone else.

 

Secondly, when examined from an objective perspective – the ‘noise’ and distractions haven’t actually disappeared, simply given way to new ones. For one, the level of arguing in our house has certainly started to increase! The first noteworthy row was yesterday between Dad and myself, over whether it was worth two hours of my time giving him a Zoom tutorial for a face-to-face conversation with – wait for it – our neighbour who lives directly opposite! I also heard a heated debate between Mum and Dad about whether a trip over to my brother’s house to drop off a pork pie fell into the ‘necessary travel’ category. You may notice a theme with these arguments! (Note to self: a patient attitude with Dad is necessary for the family’s survival). On top of this, various phones and tablets are pinging all day long, the neighbourhood kids (as much as I’m pleased they’re healthy) seem to be on their new trampoline twenty-three hours a day, and just when I kit myself out for what I intend to be a brief – but very productive – visit to a supermarket, the car battery dies. Marvellous! Factor in the lack of usual daily routine, a change in diet as I try to use up the freezer food, a definite increase in the amount of technology usage, and a disturbed sleep pattern, and things become a bit clearer. If I wish for peace and serenity, I may need to move to another planet.

 

Or, I could take a deep breath and remind myself of my new year’s resolutions: to meditate, be mindful of screen time, and remain in the present. Like all of us, I had no idea what 2020 would hold, but isn’t that always the case? That we don’t know what lies ahead? We can only resolve to do our best with what we have, be grateful, look after our wellbeing, and be kind to others whenever we can. And despite Easter being nearly upon us, I feel the need to add another resolution (I have no idea what day or month it is anyway!) – to do a little something to look after myself, then find a way to give something back. Oh, and graciously help Dad with his impending FaceTime meeting this weekend. Hold me accountable, readers… and watch this space!