On the 12th of March 2020, we were faced with the news of COVID-19 and the restrictions that were being brought in. After the initial shock wore off, many of us set off to search for things to do at home, things to keep ourselves busy. Some people took up running, studying, gardening, baking. Some vowed to maintain and renew contact with friends and family. Others turned to awakening their inner child and spent their time playing their old Nintendo, Wii, Xbox or simple board games.
Staying at home and social distancing is difficult and at the beginning. It felt really important to take up new hobbies, return to old ones or do anything else in order to manage. While my time staying at home hasn’t been the best time of my life, it also wasn’t the worst. I carved out a significant amount of time for myself, my mental health and my interests.
Thinking about our busy lives
After Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced the overview of the reopening phases, I felt anxious. At first, I wasn’t sure why, however after a while, I realised that on the 1st of September, the stress of the Leaving Certificate will take over and my life will be consumed with study and pressure. I’ll have no time for hobbies. While I’m excited for this to finally be over, I am a little worried that perhaps in the midst of my soon-to-be-busy life, I’ll forget to make time for myself and my needs.
Focusing on my creative side
After the announcement on Good Friday, I decided that I don’t want to waste my time anymore. However, I didn’t choose to train for a marathon or learn a language or read five books in a week. I decided to try something as simple as colouring. It can be typically seen as a childish activity but it managed to ease my stress. Afterwards, I continued relying on activities, that awakened my inner child, for comfort and fun. I bought a 1000 piece Disney jigsaw and focused more on creative self care.I made self care bingos, challenges, habit trackers.I found that it was important for me to embrace and accept the impact of COVID-19, so I cut out images from an old magazine and stuck them on two A3 pages. On one page, I had everything I’m looking forward to doing when the restrictions are lifted and on the second page, I had images of things that I can do while social distancing.
In relation to connecting with people, I called my Granny (who lives abroad) more often. I had Zoom quiz nights with my friends and online board game nights. My parents weren’t huge fans of letting me out for walks by myself, so I had to go with them. Initially, I wasn’t keen on the idea however now, I hope to continue it after self isolation. I began stretching in the morning right after I woke up and in the evening, right before I went to bed. I spent more time with my family and allowed them to get to know me better.
As I am interested in History, I took pictures of COVID-19 signs, the lengthy queues outside of Lidl, and empty playgrounds to try and document this pandemic. In an attempt to see the good in my life, I began writing down one or two good things that happened to me everyday during lockdown and dropped them into a jar. Come 8th of June, I will open the jar and remember all the good days I had during this unprecedented event.
Keeping up our positive habits
Although we can’t wait until the pandemic is finished and until we can finally hug our family, our friends, our partners, let’s not forget some of the good habits we may have gained because of this. Let’s not forget how much we like to run, colour, paint, make jigsaws, play board games, spend Sunday afternoons with our families. Let’s make sure to be grateful for every little thing we took for granted before COVID-19 and make sure to create space for these new habits in our lives. Let’s remember to make time for ourselves when we return to our hectic lives. Let’s remember this time when we return back to normal.