Living with New Boundaries in 2020
I would like to share the following thoughts and feelings during this change. I hope it helps in some way.
It is perfectly normal to feel unhappy and lost with our current situation; you should allow plenty of room for mental adjustment. Take this as a positive, you are not in denial but learning to deal with a new way of living day by day. Every day it will become easier. I don’t think anyone can feel or should feel good during a global disaster; it’s really difficult to accept the world is changing and no one knows what the aftermath may look like. Many people close to me have lost jobs, in the process of losing businesses, accepting furlough from long term employment with no return date set. People are fearful of change and out of their comfort zones. I am sure we all get tired of seeing the same motivational quotes and home workout videos across social media. Financially we are living within new boundaries, forced to live in guidelines which we have never had to before. I don’t think anyone can say that at the beginning of 2020 we were expecting this to happen, please know you aren’t alone with the way you are feeling.
Change is massive for everyone, sleep patterns may feel different, your moods may feel strange.
You may be waking up at 4am, skipping lunch, eating more during certain parts of the day, feeling more energetic some days to others. That’s all perfectly normal. The first few weeks of this process is really important, the re- adjustment and way we shape our new ‘normal’ life, create little wins which get us out of bed in the morning. How we adapt to change is the most difficult part. Ignore the social media posts about what ‘quarantine’ should look like and ‘how easy’ this may seem to others, not everyone is on your journey and not everyone copes in the same way. Celebrate the little wins, the weekly successes – no cheat meals, no takeaways meals and no alcohol.
The scary thought in all of this is that no one knows how long this may last or how different life may be on the other side. Time is one thing we can never claim back so as hard as it is, please try to make the most of what you have. Daily walks to your favourite local place, gardening duties or house cleaning – anything to help give you routine and a distraction from the rest of the world.
Since the outbreak for Covid-19 it has taught me to be more resourceful with everything I do, trying to fit a 10 hour day in at work, 4-5 gym sessions a week, healthy eating, meal prep, managing direct debits (while on my lunch break), planning for the yearly holidays (before sleeping at night), planning music festivals, a house move and house renovation and importantly spending time love ones. Taking the time to reflect now wondering how and why I manage on a weekly basis. I was literally running myself into ground, a break has been a blessing and it has made me reflect on everything I do. Maybe we could learn to be more resourceful as a country and as people. There is a lot to learn from other countries and way they live, some offer amazing lifestyles and seem to have mastered the work life balance better than us British, the Spanish for example work for fewer hours and don’t seem as rushed.
Social distancing has been implemented for the greater good, although we need connection now more than ever. Live in the present, spend time talking to loved ones, and make times for those who check up on you, use FaceTime and arrange calls with old friends. I was told once that if you can count five close friends, you’re blessed. I feel lucky that my five friends have been there for me throughout the first few weeks of this change, we have all helped each other through, sharing stories, talking about plans for the future and good times we have shared. I hope we can cherish each other more as a result. I will try to never turn down an invite again, whether this be a date, a drink or party. Life is too short to be anything other than happy.
Stay healthy by limiting time on social media, stay dehydrated, exercise daily, relax and stay positive. As a means to cope with the first few weeks of change I set myself weekly goals, such as running 15 miles a week, walking a minimum of 3 miles per day. This way I am motivated each day. Mental simulation is also key. I have also offered to walk my neighbour’s dog, committing to do something each day gives me a reason to get up. I know my neighbours are grateful for the support.
I am sure everyone can agree that this feels like we have stripped back to basics, the basic essentials like shelter, water, exercise and food. We don’t need a bigger house, a newer car or the designer clothes. These are lifestyle choices. More than our basic foundation is a luxury and maybe we took it for granted, now people feel lost that is has been taken away. Remember what is essential in life, keep grounded, it helps us more in times of need.
In 2008 I spent the summer on a placement in the favelas of Brazil, teaching children in seriously underprivileged areas. The children had very little and schooled only 4 hours per day. The rest of the day I spent working with their families, building, farming, fishing and cleaning. Many of their homes had only three walls and many of them would live their whole lives in the favelas. This was their way of life. Experiencing this was totally new to me, it made me realise that people with less seemed to be happier, they had each other and that’s all they needed. They were forever grateful for the little things in life, like us teaching their children English. It seems our way of life makes our world more complicated than it needs be. The more people have, the more people want. All of this work to pay the monthly bills, then on to the next month when another payment is due. We forget how to live and what’s most important. More sunsets, less Netflix.
For the first time we have become totally grounded, unable to book or plan any trips in the UK or internationally. I never really feel ‘home-sick’ about a place but my favourite part of the world to travel is Asia, I feel drawn there each year. I love everything about it, the culture, the people, the beaches and scenery. I usually visit around April or May. In 2010 I spent a summer teaching English to children who had lost parents in the December 2004 Tsunami. Similarly, to the experiences in the Brazil placement Thai people live with very little but make the best of everything they have. Fresh fish daily, fresh water, beautiful beaches, homes with the most amazing views designed and built by hand. They became totally self-sufficient living within their communities, everyone shared, and everyone had each other, no greed, equality and everyone contributed to the community. My annual visits have been placed on hold, I never thought the day would come where these sorts of trips wouldn’t be possible. Booking last minute, travelling across boarders so freely seems now a total luxury. We can’t put a price on an experience, I now realise the best things in life really are for free, like how the Thai live. Please take nothing for granted.
It’s going to be tough time and we all in this together. Small businesses and the tourism industry have been hit massively. I have received a lot of emails about ‘booking amazing luxury holidays’ and offering the most amazing holiday deals, I don’t always agree when I read these deals and struggle to understand how holidays can be booked when no one knows when this will end. We have to not just consider ourselves, but the impact of the quarantine and the unlucky people still stuck abroad. I have been fortunate to spend the last decade working and travelling around the globe, I developed a habit of booking trips a few days or weeks in advance and taking off without a care in the world. If you are in the financial position to postpone your planned trip rather than cancel, then I am sure it would be hugely appreciated by the tourism industry. We may see our favourite bars, beaches and hotels closed, but we will survive and someday soon be able to revisit. This isn’t a time to think about ‘I’ more about a time to think about ‘us’ – this is how we play our part. Stay calm and remain positive. Live with the hope of how good it will feel when we can all reunite again, the first time we sip a cocktail on the beach or the first time we enjoy a meal at our favourite restaurant after a full day of sunbathing. Remember though, the sunsets will never be cancelled.
Hard times make us stronger, right? Everything always seem harder in the moment, but on reflection it may be easier than we thought. We grow and adapt to any situation, it’s important to remember this is a marathon not a sprint, prepare for the long term and be grateful if it is anything less. Give yourself time to adapt and prepare for new ways of living and communicating, feel lucky that we have such amazing technology that we can connect with loved ones instantly. It is safe to say none of us have experienced anything like this before, nothing close. No one has the answers and uncertainty may drive us all insane. Remember, take things day by day, we can get through this.
The world one day soon recover, good news will come, and the boarders will reopen. We’ll all be dancing together in the sunshine once again.
Written by Alysha Cook