Posted in lifestyle, lockdown

Enduring lockdown: a guest post from my 8 year old niece

The UK has been in lockdown for a while now, forcing everyone who can stay home to do so. I asked some of my family and friends to write guest posts for my blog sharing how the government enforcement has affected them personally. You can read about my life here, my mum’s experiences here, my husband who is an office worker now working from home here and my university student friend’s point of view here. The next in the series is from my eight year old niece who has written down how the situation has affected her. It’s taken her a while to do this little job for me as she’s really not in work mode right now and writing is such a chore!

Boris Johnson announced that schools were going to be forced to close from Friday 28th March to all pupils except those from families of key workers and vulnerable children. This has meant that most school aged children are now being kept at home, many being looked after by parents who are working from home too. As far as I’m aware, a lot of mums and dads are attempting to home educate their kids as they’re worried about them missing out but I imagine it can’t be easy for them. My brother says that the school is providing activities but these are just to consolidate what has already been taught as you can’t expect parents to teach their children new things.

How my life has changed

Hi everyone, my name is Lexi and I’m 8 years old. I’m Auntie Laura’s niece and my daddy is her brother. The coronavirus has stopped me from going to school and seeing my friends. I can’t go to the park or swimming or do any fun stuff. It’s hard to stay inside because I don’t have that much stuff to do. I miss all of my family and when the coronavirus has gone I want to go out to a park or somewhere with my family and friends.

Keep safe,

Love Lexi

And just in case you want to see how lovely her writing is and what a great speller she is, here’s the paper copy:

Thank you for sharing your thoughts Lexi. Hopefully lockdown will be over soon and your Auntie Laura and Uncle Michael can come for a visit and go out somewhere nice with you.

Posted in art, compassion, creativity, Planning and journaling, Setting goals and intentions

Creating a lockdown vision board

With the country in lockdown for the foreseeable future many of our routines will have changed and so will our priorities in life. With this in mind, I decided to create a vision board which focuses on what I want for myself right now. This post is all about how I made it and includes a brief explanation of each of the elements. I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

As one of my goals for the moment is to experiment more with watercolour techniques, I created the background for the board by using a wet-on-wet technique and a limited palette of three colours. I used coldpress watercolour paper which did wrinkle a little but you couldn’t tell when I put it into the photocopier part of my printer. I copied it twice and then orientated them differently to create the two page spread.

After creating the backdrop, I thought carefully about my hobbies and interests and how I can engage in them further. I came up with nine ideas:

  1. to work on my drawing and painting skills
  2. to increase my strength and fitness
  3. to continue to work on my brush lettering (being a leftie makes it hard!)
  4. to grow my blog by posting regularly
  5. to develop my macro photography by using my DSLR in the garden to snap insects
  6. to focus on being grateful for my life even in these difficult circumstances
  7. to practise mindfulness to enable me to live in the moment more
  8. to use my compassion based learning to improve my self love and kindness
  9. to do much more journalling

Drawing and painting

There are some amazing online tutorials out there and I’ve already subscribed to a number of YouTube channels. One of my favourites at the moment, is Shayda Campbell’s florals work which includes lots of sketches of flowers and watercolour techniques which are really easy to follow. Another arty channel that I’ve recently started following is Hullo Alice for watercolour tutorials and bullet journal spreads.

Strength and fitness

I’ve already mentioned my daily yoga practice in a previous post and I’m continuing to develop my ability to do a variety of poses. The style I do is called Iyengar and I’m currently using this channel. I’ve recently ordered a folding chair which I’m hoping in sturdy enough to use.

Brush lettering

I’ve been doing brush lettering using my Tombow dual tips and Fudenosuke hard tip pen for a long time now but still find certain letters difficult. I’ve decided to practise more by doing the lower and upper case alphabets on alternate days and at least one quote per week in my BuJo. The practise sheets I’ve been using are from the magazine publication Simply Lettering. I’ve already made progress but I still think it’s super hard for lefties like me!

This blog

Whilst I was struggling with depression and anxiety I really didn’t have the confidence in myself to work on my blog. I had no ideas and no inclination to put pen to paper. But now, I’m pleased to say that I’m brimming with topics I want to write about and the words flow onto the page with ease. I’m back doing my Monday Matters series and I’m enjoying using my bullet journal again. Also, I hope to share with you some of what I’m doing to work towards the items on my vision board.

Macro photography

My DSLR has been in its case for months now and I’ve just been using my camera phone to take the odd snap. I splashed out on a macro lens a couple of years ago but haven’t really experimented much with it yet. I figure now, as we’re getting lots of insects in the garden, would be a great time to work on developing my skills in this area of photography. I’m not saying I’m going to get shots as wonderful as the one on my vision board but I’m going to give it a go!

Gratefulness

It’s easy to focus on all of the negative aspects of the lockdown but that’s a guaranteed way of getting myself depressed again so I’ve decided that one of the things I’m going to do each day as I socially distance myself, is to record what I’m grateful for. I bought a journalling book from Paperchase a while back called ‘5 Minutes Before Bed’ which includes space to write down your thoughts. There are a variety of different prompts and motivational quotes to keep me focused.

Mindfulness

I attended a mindfulness course at my local wellbeing centre last year and found it really beneficial. However, I haven’t really kept up the practise and really struggled to stay mindful during my period of poor mental health. But, I’m determined to focus on living in the moment and I’ve bought a journaling book to help me do this. The book provides a variety of activities to do to increased mindfulness and a space to write how you got on doing each task. I intend to do a blog post on this when I’ve completed some more of the book.

Self love and kindness

When you are struggling with your mental health, self love and kindness tend to go completely out of the window. I personally found that I had no capacity for self compassion and would constantly beat myself up over how I was feeling. Now, with an increase to my medication, I’m well again and able to show love and kindness to myself and others. I chose the bright heart hands image to remind myself that whilst working towards my goals, I want to remember to approach things with a gentle kindness.

Journalling

I’ve already mentioned the two journals which I’m using at the moment but I intend to reflect on how I’m doing my writing in my bullet journal regularly too. I find journaling really therapeutic and an important way of focusing the mind so it’s definitely something I want to do each day.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my vision board. As you can see, I’ve got plenty of ideas for self development that I want to put in place over the next few months. Maybe it’s given you inspiration for things you’d like to do whilst in lockdown mode. However, if this is not where your head is at right now and you find yourself lacking in motivation due to the current situation, then just accept that this is the case and focus on self care and self love to get you through. There’s nothing wrong with having lots of down time right now as you get used to life whilst social distancing. However you intend to structure your life in the coming weeks, remember to keep safe by keeping your distance and celebrate any small achievements along the way.

Until next time, take care,

Posted in Blogging, productivity, wellbeing, wellness

Keeping my distance: Life during lockdown for an office worker

This morning I received an email from my husband with his contribution to my how life has changed during the pandemic series of guest posts. He is only upstairs, but as he’s working on his computer, he decided to quickly attach his MS Word document and forward it to me rather than asking me to read it on his screen. So without further ado, here’s his summary on things.

Since March 23rd, when Boris Johnson made his announcement about social distancing, we have been spending much more time at home. My wife, Laura asked me to document some of the things that have changed for me personally, so here goes.

The good aspects of the lockdown

I work as a materials planner for factory and my place of work is a 30 mile commute from home. This means I am usually out of the house for 10 hours each week day, leaving at 6.30am and returning home by 5pm. Since I am now working from home, I get to spend more time with Laura. I’m also saving lots of money on fuel as I buy approximately £35.00 worth of diesel each week.

I am spending most of my day working in Laura’s ‘craft room’ (although I do manage on my laptop for the first half hour, sat at the dining table downstairs so I don’t wake my wife up tapping away on the keys!). When Laura gets up (usually around 7.30 – 8am, I’m able to take my things upstairs and spread out on her large desk, making use of the very comfortable office chair and connecting my laptop and keyboard to a large monitor, kindly loaned by work so I can actually see what I am doing on the various emails and spreadsheets! We are lucky as, with the nature of our business, we still have plenty of orders and with the factory operating with less staff we are probably busier than usual, especially as we have issues with getting hold of the materials from different sources as our suppliers are self isolating too.

Although Laura and I have the chance to converse more during the day, our company is still really busy with production and I am always typing away, making calls and having meetings. The only time I really see Laura, when I’m hard at work, is when she brings me coffee (and sometimes a biscuit or two!).

When I was at the office, I used to mainly spend my lunchbreak still sat at my computer but now I’m able to stretch my legs and enjoy my lunch at the dining table so my wife and I can spend quality time together, something we would never be able to do usually. I can also have a pop out into the garden and check out all of our various plants and see what needs to be done out there in terms of weeding, mowing the grass, digging etc. At weekends, there are of course all those little jobs in the house or garden to finally tick off as we are spending much more time at home.

The not so good aspects of the lockdown

When I first started working from home, I only had my laptop and keyboard and could barely see what I was doing. The company decided to arrange for us to have a monitor to use at home as ours are affixed to our desks in the office but I had to wait a while for this to be arranged and ended up having neckache each day and everything seemed to take twice as long to do. I’m getting used to the new way of working now but tasks still take a little longer as you can’t just pop over to a colleague’s desk to check something with them like I would usually do.

Laura and I used to enjoy getting out at weekends. These days we can’t really go out, except to the supermarket, which is now a stressful experience, queuing outside, trying to keep your distance from other customers. Trying not to touch my face whilst in the shop, or feeling like I’m nagging Laura to do the same. Some essentials, such as bread or vegetables are often sold out, so you have to go to ANOTHER shop even though we have been advised to only go to one place! When we return from the supermarket, there’s all the hand washing to be done, which has been making my already cracked and sore hands much worse.

Lots of other things have changed besides, too numerous to mention, or even worth thinking about without being overwhelmed. The situation is ever changing, but for the right reasons and will help us come out of this faster with less lives lost. Stay kind, stay safe.

Michael

Thanks to my wonderful husband for sharing his experiences. I am sure others who work in an office have had similar issues with setting up their space at home, although many of you probably have less to do or have to complete tasks a little differently. Also, now I know how much money we save in fuel costs, I’m thinking of all of the things I could buy with that £35.00 each week!

Posted in mental health, productivity, wellbeing, wellness

How is my day-to-day life different now the U.K. is currently in lockdown?

Whilst in the shower this afternoon, I had an idea for some new blog posts which will help to document life during lockdown in response to COVID-19. I want to record how life is currently different from the perspective of different people in my life as everyone’s experience is unique and some individuals are coping with the situation much better than others. So, for this series of posts, I’m going to record how things are for me right now and then ask some of my family and friends how the lockdown has changed things for them and how they feel about it. I haven’t asked them yet, but I’m thinking of featuring guest posts from my husband, my mum, my eight year old niece, a friend who is at uni (or rather not at uni right now!) and one of my teacher friends who is mainly working from home).

I hope this idea appeals to you as much as it does to me and more importantly, fingers crossed the aforementioned family and friends are up for a bit of writing. I’ll start with me and hopefully everyone else will oblige me!

How have my week days changed?

As I run my own online business on Etsy (and this blog), I’m used to mainly being at home during the day, but also popping out to different places such as the post office, the shops and to my different classes at my local college and my yoga sessions at a wellbeing centre in the city centre. So, during the week, I’m usually mainly on my own between the hours of 8am – 5pm but do make sure I have some face to face interaction with others each day such as chatting to someone I see regularly in the park, catching up with the ladies who work in the shop which contains a post office where I hand in my shop orders, or talking to fellow students at my classes.

Now, I’m no longer home alone during the day, as my husband, Michael is working from home. I’ve lost my desk in my craft room as he needs to use it and I have to work either on the dining room table, or in the living room on the sofa with my laptop on my laptop tray. It’s nice to have him at home as I enjoy the company at lunchtime but most of the day, he’s hard at work on his laptop and I try to do things super quietly downstairs to avoid disturbing him.

As my classes at college, my access to the college gym and my yoga classes are all cancelled, I’m making sure I do at workout at home and go for a daily walk. I usually drive to a local park but we’ve been advised to avoid using our cars to go out for exercise, so I’m now walking around the block with my iPod playing some of my favourite tunes. I used to find my daily walk really relaxing and a great chance to get in touch with nature, but now, my walks are more stressful as I’m always on the look out for people coming towards me on the pavement so we can try to keep the recommended two metres distance. I’m also trying to interact with a range of people online in my Facebook groups and other online communities that I belong to. There’s lots of talk about how the virus is impacting on our lives but I try to avoid too many of these discussions as some of them can be quite negative and I’d rather focus on the positives of the situation.

Another of my social outlets which I’m really missing is my weekly choir session. As I’ve mentioned before, singing is really great for your wellbeing, but as well as this, I also miss the chance to interact with others which these times brought. I did sign up for Gareth Malone’s online choir but unfortunately the rehearsals are at 5.30pm when I’m usually making dinner for my husband and I.

How have my weekends changed?

My husband and I used to arrange at least one day out over the weekend which invariably included a picnic (sometimes in the car!) or a meal out, plus a trip to a different town (either for sightseeing or shopping), the seaside or a local nature spot. Now, we no longer do this and as the lockdown becomes stricter to ensure public safety, we are tending to stay at home almost all day. This has meant lots of time for DIY projects, gardening and housework. In the beginning we were going out for a walk somewhere different but now, as I mentioned before, we’ve been advised not to use our cars for leisure activities as popular tourist spots were getting too crowded and individuals were unable to maintain the safe distance.

What’s one of the worst things about the current lockdown?

I think one of the worst bits for me is the lack of real life social contact and interaction with others. Even when I was depressed and anxious, I still tried to make sure I spent time each day with other people. Luckily, I’ve come out of my bad patch and my mental health is much better. I’m just grateful that I am no longer struggling day-to-day as I think I would be finding this situation we find ourselves in a lot harder if I was like I have been for the last 5 months or so.

What have you found to be one of the positive things about the lockdown?

I’m loving seeing and hearing about how people are going out of their way to help and support others during this difficult time. It was so heart-warming when we and so many of our neighbours took to our door steps and front gardens to clap for the NHS and to show our thanks for their hard work. Also, lots of children in my local area have made beautiful rainbow pictures and displayed them in their windows with messages thanking NHS staff or reminding people to stay safe.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about my life during lockdown. All that remains for me to say is – stay safe, keep washing your hands, remain at home as much as you can and try to find little things to celebrate about the situation, even if there are lots of sad, worrying and negative aspects.