I hadn’t intended this to be my next blog. In my first blog I’d promised my next one to be about my, hopefully helpful, experiences of redundancy. That will still happen…
But I’m going with the flow and the ‘blue sky’ idea for this blog about how Covid has impacted on me came to mind while I was on a coastal walk. For no special reason, on this day I had decided to take my time (usually I’m rushing onto the ‘next thing’) and search for spring wildflowers. The image for this blog was one of the photographs that I took that day, a clump of tiny, shy violets hiding under bracken.
As always, I was enjoying the sun, sky and sea. But it seems that giving myself ‘permission’ to take my time led me to reflect on the past year. In particular, what the impact of Covid, without catching it, has taught me about myself. What I’m happy to have learned and also what I’m less keen on.
It has been such a distinct, almost unbelievable, year and Covid-19 restrictions are still in place as I write this. However, having recently spoken with a number of people about how they are feeling I could empathise.
It is also clear from many blogs and media articles that I have read that my experiences are not dissimilar to what others feel. I have lost and gained aspects of myself throughout the last 12 months. And I have certainly learned!
It has seemed that my openly sharing how things had been for me helped those I was talking with. I cannot know your situation but I’m sharing some thoughts with you with the same intent… and I truly hope you find this of some value.
I’m incredibly lucky!
I have not caught Covid! Two of my brothers and their families have and one brother is left without smell or taste. That is the worst ill effects directly linked to Covid that my extended family have experienced. We are very fortunate and I know this!
I have cried when reading news about the unbelievable numbers of people world-wide who have died from this. I am fearful for those, like my brother, who are experiencing long-Covid as a consequence. Without getting political I truly hope that they are fully supported in the future until they recover.
No one in my extended family or friendship groups has lost their jobs, at least so far, as a consequence of Covid. A number have been placed on furlough and have had to adapt to working at home which has not always been easy. But they have worked their way through things and we are all, remotely, supporting each other.
I feel almost ‘sheltered’ from the horrendous experiences of Covid of far too many people worldwide and am hugely grateful for this. I feel unbelievably lucky and never forget this.
I think the recent news that in England we were from next week going to be able to hug, carefully, was what got my mind working on that walk. I was somewhat shocked that it had been expected that we wouldn’t be hugging! Social distancing rules still allowed for this at some times was my belief.
Some might think I have been ignorant or not abiding by the ‘rules’, which I most certainly have. But I’ve never stopped hugging. I’ve hugged within my familial social bubble and I’ve desperately needed to. I’ve hugged the single friends that I’ve been able to meet up with outside, which we have all needed. It never occurred to me that I shouldn’t!
However, what Covid has taught me is that I need to ask before I hug! I need to check in with whoever my arms are outstretched to hug that they actually want to.
A confession. I am a huge hugger and before Covid would hug all and sundry assuming they would find it as good a feeling as I did. That they didn’t was something I found hard to ‘compute, although articles like this by Elle Hunt in the Guardian helped me to understand.
Pre-Covid if someone made a face when I hugged them I would think they were joking. Although I would ask and try to remember if in future hugging was not for them…
But I didn’t ask upfront. Covid has really brought home to me that people have varying levels of fear about catching it but also that some people are just not natural ‘huggers’. I need to be aware of this, it’s not all about me and my needs.
So thank you Covid for this helpful learning!
Technology… the good!
I can honestly say that I can’t imagine how I would have got through Covid lockdowns without technology.
Without question, for me, Zoom has been 100% incredibly helpful. I would say necessary! Mainly because I moved to a new location in the spring of 2019. Not the best timing but who could imagine something like Covid happening?
Up until the first lockdown I was taking a long weekend every 5 weeks to visit all my sons and their families. It has always been my dream to live in my current location but I was torn. Moving would mean I couldn’t see my sons so regularly. Therefore I planned these regular visits in order to facilitate moving so far away from them and it had been working well.
And then lockdown happened and I was ‘trapped’ many miles away. Time for ‘big girl pants’ Maggie! I focused on enjoying my beautiful location and appreciating that my family and friends were well.
It helped! I felt lonely but my family and I are fit and healthy and coping well in fluctuating circumstances. I am in a far more fortunate position than many other people.
Zoom came along and enabled me to feel less alone. I started to have weekly catch-ups with my siblings and another with my sons and their families. I also had a number of regular Zoom calls with friends. So I didn’t feel totally cut off. AND I learned to have zoom coaching sessions with clients so I gained a new business skill.
Thanks to the connectivity of Zoom actually managing my aloneness was much easier than I anticipated it would be. In fact I was ‘seeing’ my sons and their families even more than I had pre-Covid, even if I wasn’t getting hugs.
So thank you Zoom!
Technology… the not so good?
But on reflection I’m not sure that my use of technology has all been as positive. Especially streaming services which I am now completely hooked on!
When I moved I got a large wall mounted TV and signed up for a couple of streaming services, and my goodness I’ve made the most of them during this Covid year! I’ve watched box sets galore, caught up with missed series and even re-watched much loved programmes and films. Financially I have certainly spent my money well… and I’ve kept myself amused and entertained.
But, I’ve also overindulged! Forgivable when the weather was poor and I didn’t have the opportunity to meet up with people, but I’m still doing it.
I’m also hooked on starting my day by looking at Facebook, Instagram and news online instead of getting up and getting on. Arghh!
Covid lockdown impact on my behaviour
What I’ve found is that staying in this home that I love, reading, checking out online and watching something on the TV is easy and comfortable.
When I go outside and see people together I can feel alone. I’ve recently realised that I am limiting my contact with people, not because I’m afraid of catching Covid, but because I have lost some social confidence. This has come as a huge surprise to me!
I would probably describe myself as a lively extrovert. Although I do enjoy time on my own and admit to being a ‘lazy Leo’. But my awareness of this ‘sofa surfing’ has caused me some concern. I’ve become quite introverted. It’s just too easy to spend my days escaping into the TV or books. And if I am feeling like this I can only imagine how it is for others who enjoy socialising less.
I’ve tried to be kind to myself, accepting that this has gotten me through some hard times. And to be honest it has. But it’s time now to stop and socialise more. This is not how I want to live my life. I need to get out there and meet people. But to be honest, I’m finding ‘weaning’ myself off technology somewhat challenging.
What am I doing to get back to ‘normal’
So, I am busy consciously planning my changes. I have friends visiting this week that I haven’t seen for a year. Just for a coffee but it will be so good to actually be with them, and hug. And I have booked to go out to lunch with a friend… able now to sit indoors if the weather dictates it’s needed!
I’ve realised that all this lounging around has allowed my body to stiffen a bit and so I’m paying more attention to my physical ‘state’. As well as my regular walks I’m joining a local spa. Swimming in a beautiful location with the addition of steam room and spa bath sounds just the thing to motivate me to get moving more.
I’m also joining a local Pilates class for exercise and social contact. AND I’ve challenged myself to go into a coffee shop or restaurant in this week, something I did regularly pre-Covid.
Finally, I’m ready to start the projects I’ve been promising myself to do since the start of the first lockdown. This includes making my outside space a beautiful place to spend time. Hopefully we will not be going into another lockdown. But just the thought that we might is encouraging me to make the most of the freedom this week will bring.
And so that is all from me for now. Thank you for reading this blog. I hope that you have found some value in it and kindness for yourself. As always, if you think I can be of help please do get in touch for a free chat.
Until next time