1 year on

It is hard to believe that a year has passed since the start of our first lockdown in the United Kingdom, and we’re now in our third which had required the schools to close for about 2 months from the beginning of January.

The last time I wrote on this blog was at the end of November – we were a week or two away from shops reopening, and many people were looking forward to some sort of Christmas which involved seeing a limited number of people. As it turned out, infection rates were steadily climbing and sensibly the government realised that an ‘open house’ holiday season would spell disaster.

It turned out pretty badly anyway, as people still gathered and met and mingled to some degree. We had a nice quiet time at home with the family, but then the start of the year was a blow as the kids were told to stay home for 2 weeks at least (a terrible prediction) and the NHS was starting to buckle under the weight of admissions and deaths. We also had the additional stressor in the form of Brexit coming into force, together with predictions of total disaster on the borders with trade halting due to paperwork.

Already by the end of 2020 you could see how fed up people were getting, and at work the motivation to carry on with tasks was increasingly challenging. I personally had to take some time out due to work pressure and the combination of January blues and the overall global situation.

The kids did really well, it was really hard for them to once again stay at home every day of the week. This time we had online live lessons, which was good but still a challenge to keep everyone engaged. They would work on and off until about 3pm, then I or my wife would take them for a quick walk, and some days they could thankfully goto their childminder for 2 hours.

My daily routine consisted largely of pondering my own existence, what I wanted out of life and careers and how I could rebuild my resilience that I had lost gradually in the past few years. I started a daily meditation habit again, except this time I actually have stuck with it. A key driver was reading a book called “Atomic Habits” which explained why people fail to adopt good new habits. I recommend reading it.

Another great read was “The book of overthinking“, which I found really accessible and explained really clearly why many people tend to overthink and then continue to develop unhelpful beliefs and patterns in their thinking. I’d call it essential reading for most people.

So amongst all the awfulness of the time we are all living through, one thing that has happened is I’ve been nudged into thinking a little bit more about how I live my life, how I communicate, seeing how despite being a calm person I do actually need to change a few unhelpful patterns of thinking and behaviours. It may sound trite, but for me it’s a gift. I’m developing good systems to support some aims that I have, and I’m trying to grow stronger mentally and physically after a slight dip. It’s good.

So for now, we have to keep going in this new reality we find ourselves in, and hope that soon we can start to live again as social beings. The UK has managed to get one thing spectacularly right, which is the effort to acquire and vaccinate the population. For that we should all be incredibly grateful and consider the tireless work of scientists and people involved in the administration and delivery of these miracles.