I’m sitting at home, writing this blog. I would normally be at school, but I’m not, it’s cancelled, as are my exams and competitions. But this is not unique. Social contact across the globe has been halted by an invisible killer. Coronavirus. Someone has pressed pause on the world. All the busy bodies are stuck at home. Regular tasks such as food shopping now seem as exciting and dangerous as a trip to Patagonia. Right now, across the globe, around 2.6 billion people are taking precautions to stop the spread of the virus; social distancing, self-isolating, quarantine, lockdown… These precautions are vital to saving lives, but there are downsides. Individuals’ mental and physical health will be affected by lockdown, but these problems can be managed effectively with some useful strategies and a good attitude.
The situation with Coronavirus (Covid-19) is ever adapting. Each day there are changes to the advice given nationally, as well as globally. As I’m writing this, in Britain, schools are closed, as are restaurants, pubs, leisure venues etc. You are only permitted to leave the house for essential work, food shopping, care duties and one form of exercise per day. Social distancing rules must be kept to at all times, which means keeping at least 2 metres of space between you and everyone except those you live with. This has led to some comical moments such as going to drop supplies off for my grandma and having to stand outside her house and speak to her through the window.
At this point, I have been in social isolation for 9 days and to be honest, it’s not been bad. I’m someone who enjoys being sociable but I’m also quite happy to just be by myself for a while. Here’s an insight into my social isolation so far.
One of the biggest changes I’ve noticed since the walls shut is the amount of time I now have to do things! My life pre-Corona was constant. Months on end of school, training and travelling. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed it, but it was certainly very busy. This new situation has created lots of time I never thought I’d have. To take advantage of the situation and keep me entertained I am going to try to learn new things and spend time on previously neglected tasks. So far, I have re-started learning German, something which my old schedule did not allow for, and I’ve also begun running more frequently. These are both things I enjoy and have wanted to do for a while, but I never had the chance to commit to. During the lockdown, I also plan to learn banjo and improve at French and guitar. I hope these things will keep me busy as otherwise I would end up training all day.
I have gone from having an extremely scheduled life to almost no structure at all. It’s not just me who has noticed this, many of my friends and classmates who used to attend school from 8.30am- to 3.30pm are now ‘logging in’ to school between 11pm and 2am! Time of day seems irrelevant. It’s do what you want, when you want. This openness seems great, but despite having more time than ever, I’m probably doing less than ever. The famous phrase ‘If you want something done, ask a busy person’ springs to mind. It’s counter-intuitive yet so accurate. I’m now trying to develop some sort of routine and structure to my day, in order to get as much done as I want. So far, I’ve found to-do lists extremely helpful. Each day, I pick between 6 and 10 things to do and work through them when I get a bit bored. This was a strategy I also used before isolation, just with fewer things on my list. I’m also trying to keep my sleep patterns and mealtimes relatively constant.
Another thing which I’m adapting to is ‘corona overload’ – a second damaging condition caused by coronavirus. Symptoms include fear, stress and feeling irritable. At the moment it’s impossible to turn on any sort of digital device without seeing the C word. Social media, television and news sites bombard us with information. I think we’d all agree that reliable, important information very much necessary but how much do we really need? During the first few of days of isolation I was checking the news a lot. Partly out of boredom, partly out of interest, but it has all got a bit excessive really. I’m now making a conscious effort to avoid the glaring screens which throw facts and figures at us all day. This has helped me not overthink the situation too much and focus on doing other things. My social media usage has massively increased too. Whilst it’s a great way to keep connected, my average screen time for socials last week was five hours a day. Yes, I know it’s bad. Very bad. That was five hours every day of scrolling through people doing push ups, posting strange training methods and tagging everyone they know. Social media has gone mad. From now on, I’m going to attempt to stop reflex opening Instagram and you’ll be pleased to know, today I only spent three and a half hours on social media! [note to self: must try harder.]
Another big change I’ve found is the lack of time that I’m moving and spending outside. I think that exercise and fresh air are both vital for keeping a healthy mind and I’ve been very conscious of this. Before social distancing started in Britain, my international competitions got cancelled. I didn’t feel angry or upset, more just overwhelmed with the uncertainty and strangely tense. I took a walk with a couple of friends and it really lifted my mood. This chilled stroll in the fresh air was a good pre-emptor to how important exercise and nature will be to me over the coming weeks where most of my time is spent inside my house. I generally just feel better when I’m moving or am outside and I think that’s the same for a lot of people (especially climbers). Because of this I’ve being trying to move quite a lot and get fresh air, even if that’s just moving my work from my bedroom to the kitchen or eating lunch in the garden. I’m lucky to have a garden, but if you don’t or you’re on full lockdown even just doing a few star jumps on a balcony or opening a window could lift your mood.
As a teenager I had some worries going into this period of isolation. I’m going to be spending a lot of time in the house with my family. I mean it’s not terrible, we’ve got food, water, Wi-Fi, but it’s certainly not ideal to have two bored teenagers and two stressed parents cooped up for days on end. As this is quite a severe situation, I can imagine it’s not just the lazy, hormone-crazy adolescents who are getting a bit agitated. Spending too much time with anyone, even people you love, is bound to get a bit tedious. To deal with this, I have been taking advantage of the allowed ‘one form of exercise per day’ by going on separate walks or runs from them. I think it’s important for all of us to have time to ourselves because quite simply we are not used to spending every hour of every day together. So far there has only been one argument which consisted of me shouting at my parents because they told me to sweep the floor. Yes, I know, very unreasonable. Since then, it’s been pretty chilled, my solo exercise seems to have done the trick.
This is just the start of my lockdown. Things could and probably will change, I just have to adapt to whatever happens. I might discover that social isolation is my favourite way of life, or more likely be driven mad by the interior walls of my house. We will see!
Why not share your Coronavirus experience with HoldBreaker? What situation is your country in, and how are you coping? Let us know in the comments section. If you would like a little more insight into my social distancing, training and just life in general, check out my Instagram page @louise.climbs
Name: Louise Flockhart