I found myself having a moment over the weekend… the kind of moment that causes you to stop and reflect. I was sitting at my favourite café for the first time in months, the sun was shining and my dog was on my lap and my partner sitting across the table from me. It felt like summer, it felt like “normal life” and for a moment, the seven or so months of lockdown felt very far away and very surreal… almost like they had never existed. I was only reminded of the existence of Coronavirus by the joyous announcement of my dining partner that we had had another day of 0 cases.
It was a beautiful moment, and one that felt like a reward for the months we spent indoors having to find other, small pleasures to fill our days. I felt humble and grateful to be able to return to some practices I took for granted previously, like getting a coffee with a friend, visiting those friends who live that little bit further away and going to the shops to try on clothes when I need to replace something, or browse through the bookstore, rather than order online. I have embraced each of these small pleasures in the last week or so, as no doubt have many of you reading this right now.
But I am aware that there are still those out there who may approach the easing of restrictions with some caution. Some may still be anxious about the virus and the crowds and fearful of another lockdown should others not do the right thing. Those who will check the website regularly for updates and who will avoid indoor gatherings preferring the safety of the outdoors, where the virus has been proven to spread less readily.
I acknowledge the validity of this viewpoint, but am myself embracing an attitude of cautious optimism. I will follow all rules that assist us to maintain our current numbers and lack of virus transmission, but I am keen to embrace something akin to real life (whilst still wearing a mask and social distancing). It’s time to invest in some BALANCE.
I think it is important to begin investing in our “old lives” again, and in doing so, we should be looking at this as a chance to promote positive mental health. The types of activities I am focussing on are all based around Mind, Body and Spirit, things that you might even view as self-care after months of surviving on limited variety.
The mind needs variety to remain interested in life, and to be interesting, well-rounded people. We worked hard to feed our minds in new ways during lockdown, with new and challenging experiences like online classes, puzzles and games, but now is time to embrace a little more variety.
- Reconnect with people outside of your 5km radius. It is incredibly important in order to understand the wider world to interact with people who have different experiences to us – whether that be people who live in different areas, who come from different backgrounds and are in different age groups. We need to seek these out and broaden our horizons again.
- Take time to choose what you feed your mind with. Browse through a bookstore again. Choose more consciously rather than blindly ordering online.
- Make plans for new experiences – many engaging sites will re-open soon like galleries and museums and zoos and aquariums. Appreciate these even more since you haven’t been able to access them.
Most people I know suggest their bodies suffered most in COVID, with regular forms of exercise unavailable. And while we may not be back to normal yet, we can treat out bodies to a little more variety too!
- Remind yourself that exercise is a luxury – reprogram your mind to look forward to that gruelling personal training session or gym class. Haven’t we learned to appreciate these!
- Go further afield for your exercise – even if it is a simple walk or jog, you can now visit new places and appreciate the chance to walk in different environments more.
- The same applies to food – as you return to your favourite places and different kinds of culinary experiences again, be more conscious and grateful for that variety and freshness.
- Forgive your body for anything you might perceive as a “failing” over the past few months – such a weight gain or a lack of fitness. These are all things we can return to normal as well!
We can define spirit in many ways – but I define in as the things that make you feel good as a person. I tried to keep up my sense of spirit by embracing purpose during lockdown – by seeing what I was doing as just and community-oriented. But it was difficult to watch so many suffer and struggle emotionally and financially as lockdown continued. So – now is the time to show care for yourself and others!
- If you are spiritual in a traditional sense, ensure you take opportunities to worship or practice in ways that are meaningful to you.
- Support local businesses – the big stores had online presences that helped keep them going, but smaller businesses will be really depending on your custom now – everything from the local dress shop to the boutique restaurants. Treating yourself if you can afford to right now will actually support others as well!
- Reach out to those who have been isolated – go for a visit if you can. Or visit a special place that has meaning to you and a person who has passed on or lives far away.
- Consider the needs of those around you who have struggled and see what else you can do for them. If there is a family who would benefit from a care package, now we have more flexibility to do it. If a single parent could use a night or afternoon off, restrictions may now allow you to offer them that.
- Make plans to travel. Victoria is a beautiful place as new can learn and lot and experience a lot in our own backyard, as such – and help re-stimulate our economy while we are at it. Try to be out in nature, and experience the awe and wonder that you may have been lacking whilst stuck at home.
This stage on our Covid-experience is a wonderful opportunity not only to start again, but to do so with reflection and introspection and a greater sense of the value of places, people and things we once took for granted. I am taking a mindful and optimistic approach to the weeks ahead!
Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels