April 22nd, 2020

There is no denying that lockdown has affected us all. It’s forced us to distance from our friends and family, work from home and limited our trips out of the house.

But, what’s interesting is how people are coping with this new ‘normal’, and, in some cases are enjoying it! I asked my friends and colleagues how they’re finding this ‘isolating’ way of living and how it has changed their normality… if at all.

Routine

The consensus is that it’s important to keep a daily routine even if that’s just getting up at the same time every day. It helps with productivity and positivity but equally important is giving yourself a break occasionally – if you want to stay in your pyjamas all day, why not!

“I think it’s really important to keep a routine. I make sure I get up at the same time as if I were going into the office and I’m trying to keep my morning workouts going to get me geared up for the day. I know if I don’t, I end up feeling groggy for the rest of the day and somehow more tired. However, I would say having a shower in the morning has become an achievement!” Kathryn WoolstonThomas.

Working from home

One of the main ways lockdown has changed our daily routine is that for us office workers, we now have to work from home. It has made things complicated and a little trickier but everyone I asked has been very adaptable in order to make it work.

Finding space for your ‘home office’ may be a little awkward:

“I’ve had to set up the PC and laptop on the dining table and I have a lovely blue ethernet cable stuck down with rather fetching orange Frog tape trailing from the router in the hall across the floor into the dining room plus a spaghetti junction of wires on the floor. Trip hazard I hear you shout. No, I’m sensible, I make sure I don’t walk round that side of the table!” Leigh Chelton, Clothier Lacey.  

But mostly we make it work and a change of scenery is always well received.  

“I am currently staying at my parents’ house. As things are more informal with work, I find myself working in their garden room, my bedroom or in the dining room, just whatever my mood fancies. When work starts up again, I will make a more formal workspace in the dining room (for those video calls where it isn’t acceptable to be horizontal in bed!)” Megan Grey, primary school teacher.

All of us are lucky to have companions while we’re working from home including pets, housemates, and family – although a few commented on needing a bit of separation from time to time!

“Thankfully, my mum is a primary school teacher and sets tasks for her pupils via her phone, so I’ve been quite lucky to hog all the office space!” Anna Philipps, trainee solicitor.

Pets seem to be the ideal companion!

“Then there’s Toby, my wonderfully handsome 10-year old Fox Red Labrador.  He keeps popping in to check on me and often snoozes in the sun on the floor next to me.” Leigh Chelton.

The internet and social media apps have come into their own whilst working from home with everyone using apps such as Zoom, Teams, WhatsApp and more to stay in contact with their colleagues. Collaboratively working, chatting by text and conference calls to keep the motivation going!

“I make a conscious effort to call someone or arrange a phone call instead of just emailing them. I think it really helps to speak to someone in person and It’s more informal. I try to do it just as I would in the office, going to speak to people rather than sending an email.” Kathryn Woolston Thomas

Difficulties do occur and times can be tough, especially when trying to keep morale high.

“Interaction with my colleagues is what I miss the most. I think this is especially the case for me as a trainee solicitor. There’s 20 of us who studied together for six months before starting work and when in the office, a group of us would lunch together in the canteen and joke about how we have no idea what we’re doing most of the time. I suppose this reassurance has now gone sine we’re all separated and it’s not really the same messaging over Skype (cue mini violin).” Anna Phillips.

Starting a new job must be a surreal experience and one people are facing across the country, my friend Charlotte included:

“I started my new job in the midst of COVID 19, I haven’t met all my colleagues properly yet and I am being trained remotely which is hard.” Charlotte Lapping

One thing that resonates amongst everyone is that we’re loving the lack of commute.

“What I do love about working from home is that my excess mileage on my car is now back to normal because I am not using it at all. It’s really sad to be pleased about that isn’t it? Very much a first world problem!” Philippa Clothier.

Being able to use our lunch breaks to take a step away from the desk is another bonus!

“My homemade, fresh lunches are the best and I can actually step away from the screen which doesn’t tend to happen when I’m in the office.” Harriet Ingram.

Socialising

Virtual quizzes, book groups, bingo and challenges have all been ways people are socialising with their friends and family – they give us something to look forward to.

“We have a family quiz night on a Saturday evening and meet our best friends in Tony’s Taverna at least once a week. The Taverna is on a little island in the village (aka my kitchen) and so we don’t meet anyone else – social distancing at its best.” Leigh Chelton

“I’ve hosted and took part in quizzes, bongos bingo and started a book club. They are real life savers and things to look forward to. Having plans with friends to chat, do quizzes etc gives you something to hang on to.” Megan Gray

At first, virtually socialising seemed fun and different but mostly we want to get back to seeing everyone face to face…

“I’m somewhat of an introvert, so at first, I enjoyed the new ways of interacting with people but now I just want to go out, go for some food with family/friends and speak to people F2F”. Abbie Osguthorpe

“I work in the hospitality industry, so I socialise all day at work. Only having F2F contact with one person for the last four weeks has been very different.” Zoe Kirkwood.

Goals and ambitions

With so much time on our hands people are taking up new hobbies, giving themselves health and fitness goals and taking time to plan for the future. Most people agree that it’s great to have this time to focus on other things which ordinarily you wouldn’t because ‘the pub is calling’.

“Me and my boyfriend have started doing a 21-day work out programme from home. I’m pleased that we’ve had the extra time in the house as it means that I’ve been more motivated to work out and think about my health for a change.” Abbie Osguthorpe

Walking has definitely become the go to activity. Getting that one outing a day for a form of exercise has become so important to us…. the weather hasn’t been too bad either!

Some of us have been really ambitious with our new hobbies!

“My housemate and I have become amazing chefs, no word of a lie! We made a full Sunday lunch the other day and have taken up baking (we don’t even have scales!). I’ve been following new work outs via Instagram and I’m learning to do the splits!” Charlotte Lapping.

(Never would I have thought my friend Charlotte would be able to do the splits and I can’t wait to see it in real life!)

However, sometimes this extra ‘pressure’ to start a new hobby is unnecessary, especially when it’s all over social media!

“I saw something on social media that said if you haven’t started a new hobby, you’ve wasted your time in lockdown but I couldn’t disagree more! There are some people who are just trying to stay positive – there shouldn’t be pressure to do something ‘amazing’. I think if we come out of this lockdown safe, healthy and positive that will be much more of an achievement!” Kathryn Woolston Thomas

How will this change our lives in the future?

It’s often discussed how lockdown has changed our outlook and we certainly appreciate things more.

“I think we have all learned to value our friends, family and ‘normal’ lifestyles much more – as my dear mother would say, were she here: “you never miss the water until the well runs dry.”  Spending quality time – even via WhatsApp – has been very rewarding.  Usually, I am rushing around like a crazy person, so this has forced me to slow down.  It is amazing to be able to see Spring unfolding before our eyes – just looking out of my living room window is a joy and I happened to be out for my daily walk last week on the night of the pink moon, which was stunning.” Philippa Clothier.

Spending time with loved ones will be more of a priority.

“Small things like nipping to the shops to buy things like family dinners and weekends away, when things return to normal (or the new normal), I hope that I am more appreciative of my friends and family, say yes to more things and enjoy the little things in life. I appreciate a quick drink in the pub, or friendly act of kindness from a colleague, a card a child in my class makes for me.” Megan Gray.

Working from home may become more ‘normal’ too.

“I think people may be more inclined to work from home if they feel they can be productive, it can take a lot of time out of the day just getting to and from work!” Harriet Ingram

Importantly…

“One thing that will continue is that people won’t forget about this time in history and it will make people more aware of their surroundings. And I hope a hell of a lot more appreciation for the NHS, care workers, teachers, shop assistants, delivery people and those others who have still had to get up and go to work to face this virus.” Kathryn Woolston Thomas

To conclude…

I’ve really enjoyed discussing with my friends and colleagues how our lives have momentarily changed, and our chats have been mainly positive.

Everyone’s lives are different, but one thing is for certain – we can all do this! We may face some challenges, and don’t get me wrong, we’re quite a lucky group in terms of having no one close to us ill, but we know the importance of staying positive and keeping our minds busy in order to get through this time.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this read!