Where to begin!

It is hard to know how you are supposed to feel about such an unprecedented situation. I work in mental health, and from a personal perspective, there have been two sides to the lockdown- having more free time has been a huge luxury! And, working from home is a strange mix of positive and negative. I will get the tricky stuff out of the way first!

It is really important to keep good boundaries between your work and home life. At least for me, I have noticed that to offer effective support, I need to recharge and ‘switch off’ at the end of each day so I am ready to give the same energy tomorrow.

I have found that switching off a laptop is not the same as switching off my mind. It is amazing how much we associated our environment with how we feel. I have now, very much made work connections with my home environment and therefore sometimes literally ‘take work home’!  I have a small apartment and have not been able to link these feelings to a home office. So, I have replaced this with putting my work phone away in a drawer at the end of each day, something small which has become really helpful to create mental distance. On the flip side, getting my phone out of my drawer has become symbolic of being ‘at’ work- helping me keep my home life at home!

On to the plus side- there is no commute, there is easy access to caffeine and I can even play my relaxation CDs whilst typing emails (rainforest sounds anyone?!).

I live with my partner and I have got to know him a lot better- this has not always been easy and I can imagine others may have had similar experiences. Spending 24/7 with someone is not the usual routine! And at the same time, I am aware in many ways those living alone have faced even greater challenges.

In my free time, I have been able to commit to things that have been niggling at the back of my mind- I have had space to decide what I really think about vegetarianism and veganism (I settled for the former, I can’t say goodbye to cheese) and tried to cook my way around the world instead of travelling- I even found a Peruvian cookbook! I started making my own bath products rather than 
buying them (admittedly with very strange initial results- I am lucky to have a partner who is willing to be a human guinea pig). I am also very lucky to have few metres of soil I can access and persuaded some mint to grow, which I actually ate (I had to overcome a mental block that it wasn’t in a supermarket packet).

Many lifeline services for vulnerable people have had to be scaled back or adapted. I am under no illusions that on the grand scale of things, it has taken enormous personal resilience and adaptation. I have huge respect for both staff and clients.

The lockdown has eased a little recently, and although for me it hasn’t been ‘great’ or ‘awful’, I have learnt more about myself and appreciated those around me much more. In the ongoing uncertainty I am trying to balance having hope without expectations- I haven’t achieved this completely but will keep practicing!