Before the pandemic, there were demands from work, home and family and never enough hours in the day to be still.
Finding time to press the pause button on life was impossible.
The start of 2020 filled me with anticipation, worry and excitement.
It is GCSE year, and with exams finished we were going to join my parents in Portugal.
A drive to Spain followed by a trip back home and on to Berlin to pick up my son’s gear after finishing his third year of University at Freie Universitat Berlin.
With summer planned all looked good and then boom, lockdown.
My initial reaction was to get on with it, life goes on but without the daily school-work commute.
This is great, my husband and boys working and living at home.
Despite the slow down in our working lives, the lockdown has been anything but relaxing and indeed more wearing.
The long term psychological impact of social distancing is unclear.
Is it reality avoidance or a form of social anxiety that is making us hesitate before resuming life.
Couped up in our homes for almost four months with minimal social contact, and as the lockdown eases, I thought people would head to the shops in droves.
The streets are eerily quiet, and those that go out are quietly going about their business.
COVID-19 has affected all of us in different ways thousands have lost loved ones; people have lost their jobs, security and livelihood.
For many, there is the fear of the unknown that something might happen to them.
There are many variables as yet unknown.
Face masks are the next requirement when shopping and in communal areas.
Our office building has been issued a directive that face masks are mandatory in all communal areas.
This should have been obligatory at the outset of the pandemic like Spain and Italy. It adds to the anxiety and social isolation many of us are experiencing.
It is a norm as well as a psychological change, and while many individuals are complying others will need convincing.
We are juggling a tricky and evolving situation with no tangible outcome.
Human beings thrive on close contact and personal relationships, and the longer social distancing and mask-wearing continue, the harder it will be for us to forge those close connections.
My local beauty therapists called to reinstate my cancelled appointments, I jumped for joy finally I’ll have decent nails.
My hair colour and cut is booked, I will gladly take any appointment time day or night.
I haven’t felt this much excitement since my husband managed to get a whole load of toilet rolls at the beginning of lockdown.
As the lockdown eases, why do I feel anxious and afraid to put myself out there?
I struggle to rebalance my life and am startled at the impact the lockdown has had on my mental wellbeing.
My brain feels like it has been rewired to be unsociable and closeted at home with minimal human contact.
I don’t live in the moment and I am not one of those living by the seat of my pants gals.
I work with a daily planner, tasks to complete and places to be at.
Why did people enjoy lockdown and being at home?
I felt a sense of loss, my routine changed daily, and I floundered.
There was no sense of purpose or productivity in my life.
My husband made a passing comment into week three, ‘you know your problem your brain is always occupied. You’re always doing something you rarely sit still.’
He was right continually organising and fitting stuff in around the school timetable life was one big merry go round but without the fun.
What should have been a prime time to slow down and enjoy time off from the manic work treadmill was actually having a debilitating effect.
Rather than waking up when I feel like it and working when needed, I panicked and felt out of control.
I realised that I had lost the ability to just be to know how to enjoy the time with my family and not feel guilty if I watched Netflix or read books.
I know I am not the only one.
Some of my friends have expressed the same sentiment, worried that they’ve come through the worst of it, only to catch the virus when they least expect it.
A careless, thoughtless moment without a face mask?
Normal service is slowly resuming.
I ventured out to the shops more to browse than to buy, and it felt good.
The enforced quiet time has taught me not to be so judgemental on myself and to go with the flow.
If it doesn’t get done today do it tomorrow.
My mindset has changed; I am purposeful, slower and more mindful.
Peaceful in mind and more relaxed than in recent years.
When I walk I slow down to look at the clouds or stand still and take in the fauna appreciating mother nature.
Now is the time to embrace new possibilities and the freedom that comes with it.