Lockdown 3; third time's a charm?
Updated: May 21
In many of the conversations I am currently having with people, there is a feeling that this third lockdown is proving harder than the previous two. Alongside this comes the confusion as to why this may be the case given we have been doing this for nearly a year now.
We know how tough lockdowns can be and although the vaccines are providing some much-needed hope, we are still uncertain as to when life will resemble something similar to what it used to be before covid-19.
Of course there are all the things we miss like shopping, dining out, sports matches, visiting friends and relatives, but this is the third time we have done this. Shouldn't it be getting easier not harder?
Let’s have a think about what is different this time around.
The novelty’s over
One factor may be that the first lockdown, although difficult for many, was new. Most of us had never experienced anything like this before; the separation from loved ones, the reduction in physical contact, the heightened anxiety of an invisible threat taking great numbers of lives. Often we get caught up in adjusting to changes and don’t have time or capacity to recognise just how affected we are by situations.
Eleven months on, many of us are longing to embrace a loved one; something we haven’t been allowed to do. As social beings, physical contact is a human need and being deprived of that, even justifiably so, takes its toll on many of us. Even those who have bent that rule by braving a quick hug, have possibly done so with underlying anxiety and guilt that they may be contributing to the spread of the virus or putting themselves or others at risk let alone being judged by others.
Put bluntly, few of us were prepared for life still being far from normal this far down the line and our patience is being tested.
Time of year
In the first lockdown, many clinged to that permitted hour per day to leave home for exercise. Given the time of year, this was much easier than it is this time around.
I love a walk to shake off work stress and clear my head so I try to take one every day. While I am a subscriber to the notion that “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes” I have to admit daily walks don’t feel as relaxing when you’re fighting the cold, braving the wind or dodging the rain. My once peaceful, contemplative stroll seems to have become a battle against the elements.
On top of the Great British weather I also notice that I am less inclined to walk in the evenings due to the reduced daylight hours. Evening strolls in the summer sun are great for the soul but walking in the wintry dark just doesn’t have the same appeal.
Like many Brits I love the sunshine and find myself longing for warmer and brighter days to help me look after my wellbeing.
Delays and disappointments
These days people often describe life as being on hold or paused. Holidays, sports events, music concerts, movie releases, community festivals have all suffered delays and cancellations. Our leisure activities have had to change drastically to accommodate these changes and often we feel like we are having to compromise.
Most people understand why this is necessary given the threat of the pandemic and how often do we hear, “what can you do?” but along with that question and an accompanying shrug comes a great amount of disappointment which we are all carrying but, perhaps worst of all, are getting used to.
The longer we have been feeling the effects of the pandemic, the higher the number of delays and disappointments and while it is beyond our control, that sinking feeling just seems heavier and heavier with each sigh of resignation.
Everybody needs good neighbours
Due to the restrictions, people’s support systems may have changed; relying on neighbours rather than friends and family who live further away. Community connections have both grown stronger and been tested as people who may have previously just walked or driven past their neighbours are suddenly more likely to see each other because we are told not to travel to socialise.
In 2020 we had to adapt our social lives greatly and one of the good things to have come out of this world crisis has been the return to community spirit seen in previous generations. While some people have not seen lifelong friends for months, they have been having weekly “kerb-side cocktails” whether socially distant, when rules allowed, or digitally.
Many new relationships will have developed as a direct result of covid-19. Others may have faded. Either way, our social circles may be quite different in this lockdown to how they were in the first one.
It’s all about perspective
For many of us it is hard to imagine that there are some people who have found the lockdowns a breeze, even a benefit. Those who are grateful for more time at home or perhaps experience social anxiety may feel that the restrictions have reduced their stress. True, there may be some guilt that they are enjoying lockdown while others are not but for some not having to have physical contact with others may be a blessing. Those who experience social fatigue or have survived physical trauma, for example.
Each person’s experience of the current pandemic is individual. While there are certainly themes throughout the people I have been speaking to, I cannot say that any two describe their response to it in exactly the same way.
Regardless of your point of view when it comes to lockdowns, life has changed for the majority of us.
As I’ve demonstrated, some are finding positives that have come out of covid-19 and one of the main ones I hear and read about is having the opportunity to take stock of one’s approach to wellbeing. When times are tough, we need to ensure we are looking after ourselves even more than usual and many have discovered this and are using it to survive and, in some cases, thrive in these challenging times.
Many are focusing on getting out into nature and walking or taking up running to improve both physical and mental health. As a relatively active person I notice the rare days when I don’t manage to get out for a daily walk that I feel restless in the evenings and will make extra effort to not be sat down in front of a screen; cooking and even washing the dishes have become strategies to remain resilient when the weather is unappealing or I haven’t made enough time for myself to get a break outside.
The greater focus on wellbeing and selfcare can only be a positive. Let’s ensure it continues beyond the current crisis.
There are many reasons why this lockdown may be proving harder than the previous two. Some of the above may resonate with you. Some may not. While it is true that reminding yourself that we are all in this together and we have no control over this, I believe it is important to recognise that each person is experiencing this pandemic in their own way.
Spring is approaching and the vaccine rollout continues apace hopefully bringing us closer to the kind of life we used to know. We all hope this will be the final lockdown but we’ve been here before. Benjamin Franklin once famously said, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Given that many are finding lockdown 3 more difficult, would it be wise to consider what we’ve learnt this time around while it is still fresh in our minds?
Through my work as a counsellor and wellbeing mentor I believe that once we know the source of a problem, we get closer to making changes to solve it. Increasing self-awareness is the first step so I ask you;
What has been different about this lockdown for you?
What are you doing about it?
And most importantly, is it working?