My granddaughter, Ellie, asked me a very sad question, and the fact that she asked me this question in the middle of watching Ballerina, her all-time favourite movie, made it even more poignant...
“When can things be like they were before?” She was referring to Covid-19 of course and I found myself searching for an explanation that a 9-year-old could understand.
Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown will go down in history as an extremely challenging period for us all. This pandemic has created havoc and despair, especially for those who have lost people dear to them. And for those who already have mental health issues, anxiety problems, or suffer with loneliness.
People have lost their livelihoods as businesses fold, rationalise and restructure. We are trapped in a state of fear – one minute ‘second wave’ the next ‘go to work to avoid an economic and social crisis’ which it is said would be far more dangerous than the health crisis.
Thankfully, we are now slowly coming out of lockdown and it appears that the great British staycation is back in fashion with more holidaymakers choosing not to jet off to the sun.
Although, right now, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t feel safe staying anywhere overnight other than my own home. We are being encouraged to venture out more, maintaining social distancing rules of course, but for me this is more about human interaction, and surely this ‘new normal’ is anything but?
Some of us are underplaying the pandemic, whilst others are terrified of walking outside their own front door…
Lockdown has been particularly tough on relationships, with isolation forcing us to spend a lot more time with each other. This new reality either becomes ‘the straw that breaks the camel’s back’ exposing underlying problems, or the opposite, bringing couples closer together.
Nuffield Health has reported that around 80% of British people working from home feel that lockdown has had a negative impact on their mental health, with a quarter of these people saying that they are finding it difficult to cope with the emotional challenges of isolation.
A lot of people are still working from home and have adapted to this ‘new normal’ so, maybe without even realising it, we have normalised the lockdown itself?
There is of course talk of a second lockdown – but can we really cope with the collateral damage this would cause? Scientists caution that it may take years to develop a vaccine and have tried to communicate the risk better by devising the ‘traffic light’ plan. The thing is: Covid-19 stole our human rights well ahead of this idea.
Personally, I found it (relatively!) easy to adapt to my partner and I spending more time together, although I’m not sure that Wilson (our cat) would agree since he likes having the house to himself!
We had our own workspace, adapted to a new routine, and had more ‘real’ conversations than we would normally have.
One of the positive aspects of this societal change is a new appreciation of a lot that we took for granted.
Key Workers are true heroes risking their own safety to support us – sacrifice and humanity beyond words.
Parents providing home schooling are amazing. How difficult it must be to have to explain this pandemic to young children when they are desperately missing their friends and the extra-curricular activities they normally take part in?
I fear more for the health of my family than myself, and I admit that when the pandemic first broke, it took a while for me to get my head around my fears. I think that how you respond to stress at any given point can depend on your inner strength.
And when it really matters, we all discover a form of strength we don’t realise we have.
I’ve found that reducing the time I spend watching/reading the news helps. I also try to get enough sleep because I know that my coping mechanism is weaker when I’m tired. Netflix is great for escapism and Wilson and my Kindle are a definite bonus!
Maybe you might decide to channel your inner Madonna and post a video of yourself naked in a milky bath full of rose petals!
Me neither – I can barely avoid running out of semi-skimmed for my Weetabix so it’s not going to happen!
Will we beat this virus?
Let’s have faith and choose ‘optimism’.
However you feel about what is happening to us all right now, one thing is for sure:
It’s not about what happens, but how you handle it.
Stay safe, stay strong, and don’t let ‘it’ beat you.
Julie Cadman lives in Stone and is the author of the 60 and Still Fabulous column. Connect with Julie via her LinkedIn profile.