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Time well spent and lessons learned in lockdown

What follows is a reflection on my thoughts and feelings during my 66 days (and counting) in lockdown.

Like so many of us up and down the country, I set out a list longer than a Leonard Cohen song with goals and ambitions of what I would achieve in my lockdown. The biggest reason for this was to keep my mind healthy, happy, and busy as I spent my time confined to my house. I’m sure many of us felt the same, thinking that it would be a great opportunity to develop existing skills or even pick up a new skill and think about their habits and behaviours. Whilst some of my 66 days in the house were like that, like many others, there were some dark days when fear and anxiety would take over.  Thankfully, these days were few and far between and for that, I feel very fortunate, as I know that the lockdown period has been horribly difficult for some.

So, I thought that as the days are starting to feel brighter, I would take a minute to reflect on the some of the skills that I’ve improved on, the feelings I’ve had, and the habits and behaviours I have implemented during my time inside.

The first thing that comes to mind is my appreciation for the little things. Mainly this is hugging my family and friends. Like many other couples up and down the country, my fiancé and I had to postpone our wedding. This was a stressful afternoon of calling, emailing, and panicking trying to get everyone aligned on a date. However, we managed to get there in the end and got through the process fairly unscathed. What did occur to me is that when something like this happens, I naturally turn to my family and friends for comfort and what I found the hardest was not being able to get a hug from my mum and dad. This has been a recurring theme throughout lockdown, human contact is so important even for those of us who hate the thought of hugging people or being touched in any way. Little things like a comforting hug from someone we care about can make the biggest problems seem so insignificant and I for one won’t take that for granted ever again. I’m pleased to say that most of my family and friends have made it through the pandemic COVID free and for those who did suffer have only had mild symptoms so for that I’m thankful. I hope they are all well prepared for all the squeezy hugs that are coming their way as soon as I can.

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After a pretty stressful afternoon Rory and myself made the decision to move our wedding date. There are far to many of our loved ones who are in the high risk category so to ensure their safety we made the decision to move the wedding. Instead of getting married on the 16th of May we will now become Mr & Mrs on the 20th of November so for everyone who got a save the date from us if you could amend it on your calendar please. As much as it was stressful and upsetting the health and well-being of each person in the clan photo is the most important thing. I want to shout out to all our wedding suppliers who moved very swiftly to accomdate us today. They were all so understanding and showed us some genuine human kindness today. Look after yourself folks Lots of lot The Soon-to-be-Steeles ❤️

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Next up is all things food and drink, before lockdown, my fiancé and I would say we are proper foodies. We love eating out but we also love to cook at home and since we have all been locked in our houses with restaurants closed we have been taking turns in cooking. This has meant we have massively improved our cooking skills which by our modest standards were already pretty good! Our favourite thing we have been doing is making sugo for pasta sauces and we discovered our love for this purely by accident. As everyone was panic buying food, regular staples that we would buy every week were getting harder to get. So, when it came to making a midweek spag bol we had no tinned tomatoes to put in the sauce but we had all the bits needed to make our own and we have never looked back. Boiling down tomatoes, garlic, and oil is so much better than adding a tin of tomatoes to your dish, trust me – give it a go! In addition to cooking, the lockdown has also given me the time to build on my baking skills. As with things like tinned tomatoes and kidney beans flour and bread (see everyone’s new skill at baking lockdown banana bread) also became a rarity but being an amateur baker, I had plenty of flour, so I decided to bake a loaf. To my surprise, it turned out really well, so I made another one, then before I knew it, I was caring for a sourdough starter daily and I have now added bagels to my repertoire.

I’m not the only one who has become a star baker, my Instagram is full of people caring for their own starters. Making loaves, and sharing their bakes with their neighbours, key workers, and doing doorstep deliveries to those who are shielding. Food always has and always will bring people together and a global pandemic hasn’t stopped that. I’ve still not bought a loaf since March and I think it will stay that way because mine taste so much better. Cooking skills, baking, and drastically reducing food waste are all habits that were forced on me due to lockdown and they will be sticking around for the foreseeable.

Lastly, I wanted to identify some habits and behaviours that I could change for the better. The first thing that I wanted to change was supporting local businesses as much as I possibly could, pre-lockdown I would simply shop for convenience via the likes of ASOS and Amazon. As lockdown was starting to come into effect, I could see more of my favourite coffee shops, restaurants, and businesses beginning to feel the squeeze that lockdown was causing. This is also something especially close to my own family, as my sister-in-law has her a graphic design and jewellery business in Dunbar. These are peoples livelihoods, they pay their mortgages and feed their families so I wanted to find businesses that I could support that would provide me with the same things that I would get from the likes of ASOS and Amazon.

I’m pleased to say that this has become a proper lifestyle change, I have found a boutique in Dundee that I’ve been buying clothes from online. I’ve been buying our fruit and veg from our local farm shop and shopping in the hardware shop on my high street. Getting deliveries from all my favourite coffee shops, bakeries, and restaurants in Edinburgh. All this has meant that I can still have a little taste of normality in a very not normal situation. I’m not saying that I won’t ever be using the likes of ASOS and Amazon again but I’m certainly using them a lot less than before.

The biggest change I have found is taking time out to do the things I love that in previous months I didn’t make time for. Lockdown has helped me discover that I seem to be at my happiest when I’m in my kitchen, so I intend to spend the same amount of time there even when we do get set free. I’ve also learned to be a bit kinder to myself when I’m finding everything a bit overwhelming. Sure there are days when I feel like the most productive person in the world and want to learn 9 languages, how to play Classical Gas, and knit myself a jumper but there are also days that I don’t want to get dressed and sit on my couch all day. What I’ve learned is that when I feel like being a bit of a slob it is simply because I need it both mentally and physically, it is obviously what my body needs, and I should just listen to it.

No-one knows what post-lockdown life is going to look like but I’ve learned that it’s the little things I’m looking forward to most and I’ll never take them for granted again. I like to think that everyone has taken something out of this situation, and I hope that we have all formed new habits and behaviours that will last us a lifetime.

 

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