Reflection on lockdown 2.0

Freedom!!!! (Sort of!)

Lockdown 2.0 is over and we are back to the tier system. For most of us here at Be Strong, we are moving into Tier 3, which means that everything opens, except pubs and hospitality, and we can meet up in groups of six in outdoor parks and public spaces.

There will be a lot of mixed feelings about this I am sure, but we have to remain positive and take the plusses where we can. We can at least meet up with a few more friends for walks and other activities, which makes things a little less lonely, and certainly gives a bit more scope for entertaining ourselves. This weekend I am planning a walk with my group of girlfriends for one of our 40th birthdays, because we can’t do what was originally planned. If it’s nice we will take a picnic, and maybe even a little bit of fizz and celebrate together, just in a different way. And after not being able to spend time together for the last month or so, I am really looking forward to it!

At the end of the first lockdown I reflected on what we can learn from the experience and transfer to our lifestyle change journey – that we can adapt and learn to live in a new routine, it may take some longer than others, but we get there eventually.

I have noticed that the second time round we definitely seemed to learn from our mistakes of the first time, and from the conversations I had, people were intent on keeping up good habits and were more focused on maintaining exercise. We knew we could get through it, because we had done it before, but also there was the promise of an end date, which we never had in lockdown numero uno.

But, this second lockdown has made me realise that these prolonged restrictions on our lives, can eventually take it’s toll. I have noticed dips in my own and others mental health, particularly towards the end of the month.  Lancashire has been under some form of restriction for the majority of the year, and while the sun is shining and you can get out without getting drenched, frozen or blown away, it makes things a bit easier to cope with, but with the darker nights (and days) and the inclement weather, the continued restrictions have become harder to deal with.  Intentions were good at the start, but they seemed to waver as time went on, and we may have been able to keep up some of our good intentions but perhaps not all of them. I certainly let some of my rules around alcohol waver as the weeks went on, and I have had to have a word with myself and reinforce those rules again, before Christmas comes along, and with it, the season to be merry!


How can we learn…

Just like last time, there are definite lessons to be learned from how we have handled lockdown 2.0.

Reflection is such a powerful tool to have in our tool box. Looking back and identifying how we reacted, why we reacted the way we did, and working out if we could have reacted better, so that next time something challenges us, we can perhaps have a weapon in our arsenal ready to help us to not make the same mistakes.

I found that the Circuit Breaker challenge was a great weapon in stopping us from going down that slippery slope. The challenge asked us to identify what does us harm – this is most likely going to be the foods we go to when we are bored and/or fed up.  By making a rule that we aren’t going to eat something, it eliminates that problem once and for all. The 20 minutes exercise, was purposely picked to make it achievable, any longer would have made it difficult to adhere too every single day. By focusing on those two things we have all absolutely managed the damage we could have done with food, and kept our mental and physical health in check by keeping active  for a short period of time, every day.

My circuit breaker sacrifice was tub chocolates like Celebrations and Heroes. Johnny had started buying them and leaving them out, prior to the lockdown starting and my habit of just having one, and then another and another, had resurrected. So my decision was to stop having them all together. Even when they were on offer in the supermarket, we still bought them ready for Christmas, and I put them in the boot of the car and left them there.  And it’s my intention to keep them there until the Christmas season is in full swing, and the kids finish school.

How can we take this forward with us for the future?

  1. Take some time to identify where you are going wrong – and be real with yourself.
  2. Don’t cut everything out that you enjoy – just the thing that will give you the biggest wins.
  3. If you want to cut something out – don’t buy it – the temptation will be too much if it is close to hand
  4. Give yourself an end date – it makes everything more doable. And, you will probably find when you get to your end date, you might want to extend it. It also prevents that feeling of it being never ending. By giving yourself an end date it will keep you focused because you know it isn’t forever.
  5. Make your goals manageable for you – 20 minutes of exercise is far more doable than an hour every day, for instance.  And in the long term this will be more beneficial, because you are more likely to stick to it.
  6. Living with restriction is really hard! So only restrict yourself when absolutely necessary. Slowly introducing changes over time, will be a lot easier than stopping everything all at once.

My biggest lesson

The biggest lesson that I have learnt throughout all of this, is to appreciate everything we have – our friends, our families, our freedoms, our physical abilities and our health. We will all by now know at least one person affected by Covid, in one way or another, and how it has been difficult for them. That alone is enough to make me want to stay as healthy and active as possible.

This week!

Take some time out to reflect and identify what you have learned from your lockdown experiences. You will have definitely learnt more than you think!

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