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Social media is a wonderful tool in helping us stay connected during isolation and to keep channels of communication flowing, as well as making the Arts sector more accessible than ever with previous performances shown online for anyone with internet access to marvel at. I’ve felt another side to this, although we’re apart and social distancing during lockdown, it’s actually become easier to compare ourselves to others and their achievements, through an increased use of social media while we’ve mostly been confined to four walls. Instead of any direct comparisons, take a moment to reflect on what you’re doing to look after yourself and others. As Heather Small asks, “What have you done today to make you feel proud?” It’s probably more impressive than you think

It’s important to remember that everyone’s situation is unique to them and that self-care and caring for others is paramount, now more than ever. It’s easy to see someone’s post about learning Japanese in a week and ask yourself what you’ve accomplished in the same time. That person will have individual commitments and a situation that may be very different to yours – so focus on your own personal achievements during what is a challenging time for us all, because in the words of Kris Jenner, “you’re doing amazing, sweetie!”

Volunteering in my pyjamas

I went into hibernation mode early on during the Coronavirus outbreak in the UK, due to having a reduced immune system and so being more susceptible to picking up viruses. As someone who’s usually an active volunteer in the community, I’m sad to have missed out on physically helping people however I have been able to continue with something that’s close to my heart and raise awareness of invisible illnesses from the safety and comfort of my own home. This has been through the positive side of social media, sharing my experience with others around the world and giving hope to those with concerns as well as an article I’ve written that has featured in a printed publication. I’m also a proud member of the Funky Bunch (who could resist that name!) and have been able to virtually meet up with the team from Déda as part of a volunteer committee to help shape the programme of events offered by the creative dance house – both during isolation and beyond.

Working in isolation (well, with a four-legged companion)

I’m fortunate to have been able to work from home during this challenging time and I feel this requires a greater need for self-care and positive wellbeing…as well as dog treats to hand which I must remember to remove from all pockets on return to the office. It’s easy to slip into the habit of working late into the evening or on a weekend when your laptop is always on and you’re essentially in work-mode at home as opposed to leaving the office at the end of a working day. I try and take regular breaks away from my screen, reduce screen-time so I’m not shifting from looking at a laptop screen to a smartphone and use a lunch break to keep in contact with loved ones. Staying in touch has kept me positive during lockdown and it’s been great to talk about all the things I’ll be doing with friends when we can meet up again. I’ve also stuck to a routine so it’s not a complete shock to my system when I do need to return to commuting and daily working life. Having a structure to my day allows for breaks and to understand the importance of switching off from work and enjoying home life, which for me is just down the hallway.

Focusing on what sparks joy

Early on, I jotted down a ‘quarantine routine’ with goals I was hoping to achieve each day, probably partly due to all the amazing things people seemed to be doing the world over, but over time came

to the conclusion that whilst I was still working full-time, anything achieved above and beyond this was a bonus and that anything related to positive mental health and well-being should take a precedence. What I have been fitting in are two of my main passions, crafting and exercising. I’ve found more time for cross-stitching, colouring postcards to send to my parents, sketching and making items for people when I see them again. Due to my gym being closed, my dining room/home office/craft room now has a fourth role to play as a workout space, with sessions ranging from Pilates to HIIT to weights. To find a positive in the current situation, I’ve been able to enjoy the great outdoors (on my gratefully rural doorstep) more than when I’m having to commute to and from work. I’m able to go for longer runs before work and spend more quality time with my husband walking our dog every evening.

Life lessons in lockdown

For me, lockdown has provided the chance to pause…to recharge…to reflect and in some cases re-evaluate. What’s important to me, what sparks joy that I want to do more of, what had I stopped doing because of other commitments. I thought of Allie from ‘The Notebook’; "I don't paint anymore. I used to paint all the time. I really loved it."

It’s also been a time to get some of those jobs that never get done around the house, actually done and there’s now a seating area in our garden which I’m pleased to say A. I can get WiFi at meaning I can move into the garden for some of the working day and B. As a result of this, colleagues have compared it to looking like the south of France (when we had sunshine)….I didn’t ask if the cocktail glass was in shot on the Teams call but instead took it to be down to the greenery, painted fence and soft furnishings.

I hope if you’ve been home more than usual like I have, that you’ve managed to find time to do things that spark joy. For me it’s a 10k before work on a miserable Monday morning…maybe I’ve got some more re-evaluating to do….

Funky Bunch Member


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