As we get into our second national lockdown of 2020, things can feel depressingly familiar, yet also somewhat easier this time around. We know more about the pandemic, have more experience of working from home and there’s an end in sight. All of this can make the second lockdown feel easier, but for many it’s still going to be an incredibly difficult time, especially as the weather gets colder and the days get shorter. Four writers explain what they intend to do differently in this lockdown compared to the last one, and what they have learned over the course of the year.
Owing to the rather grim sense of familiarity this time around, lockdown 2.0 feels much less intense than its first edition. So, when Boris Johnson sputtered out the new lockdown guidelines, it didn’t really feel like a big deal - there were no videos of tanks cruising the M1 being shared on my timeline, no conspiracy theorist WhatsApp broadcasts about some NHS worker who is also everyone’s cousin, and, as it turns out, absolutely no motivation to take advantage of this time for any supposed self-improvement whatsoever.
A strange thing happened in March, amid all the uncertainty of the first lockdown. There was a little man in all of us, a light, positive force, that was telling us to make the most of these unsettling times. We were supposed to paint, write, find ourselves and most of all, not allow ourselves time to wallow in self-pity.
You will be pleased to discover that this time round, things are a little different. Things are much more relaxed, there isn’t the pressure to act in a certain way and we can handle things in any way we see fit.
This lockdown will be very unusual for me, as well as many students across the country. The main reason for this being, that last lockdown, I was surrounded by the support and comfort of my parents at home, due to the second term of university ending early last year. Meanwhile this lockdown, I will be remaining in my term time accommodation. I am expecting it to be a hugely difficult process. I have many deadlines to satisfy in the upcoming weeks, and I worry how I will cope with the stress from university content, as well as my own well-being from being isolated indoors.
From my experience in the last lockdown in March, I learnt that a daily walk does wonders. It clears your mind and acts as a refreshing wash of clarity. I live very close to the Newbold Comyn, and so will most definitely be taking advantage of the scenery on offer there, along with chilly picnics.
This second lockdown will be tough, but at least there is an end in sight, with the prospect of having a “normal” Christmas. I think it is important to keep busy. As students, there is definitely something we can be doing, for example, the recommended further reading that no one seems to bother to check or attending a training course to gain a technical skill. Recently, I updated my LinkedIn profile since I had finally had time to sit down and do so.
Try to surround yourselves virtually with a supportive network of people. Most importantly, just take time for yourself.
One of the most important things for me is maintaining a routine. During the last lockdown, I discovered that I enjoyed having a structure to my day that was similar to that of ‘normal life’, pre-COVID. Some prefer to have a more relaxed approach to their day, but this is what I found works for me.
I think my one regret of the first lockdown is that I didn’t make the most of the state-sanctioned daily walk. Although I tried to keep up an exercise routine of at-home workouts, which I will continue this lockdown, walking in the fresh air really helps to clear your mind and can often make you more productive.
We are also allowed to go for socially distanced walks with one person from outside our house, so this will be a great way to continue socializing a little bit over lockdown. Especially with it getting dark earlier, making the most of the autumn sun during the day and perhaps exploring undiscovered places of the local area can keep us busy.
However, you don’t have to keep busy if you don’t want to. In the first lockdown, I felt there was pressure to use the extra time to glow up. Of course, it is a great opportunity to work on ourselves, but we are also in the middle of a global pandemic and it’s bound to take a toll on everyone’s mental health.
I find that journaling is a great outlet for all of my thoughts and feelings, especially to let go of any negativity. We’re not always going to feel on top of the world - lockdown can also be a time to just sit back and take a breather.
Another lockdown was something I greeted with immense trepidation and pessimism. While I reluctantly supported the first lockdown, I couldn’t see the case for another one. Any benefits seemed completely outweighed by the health, economic and social costs.
However, now the lockdown is here, I think it’s important to try and get into some good habits. In the last lockdown, I really recognised the value of properly getting dressed and waking up. Even though I was working from home, being dressed psychologically made me feel ready to complete the tasks ahead. It allowed a clear distinction between working and leisure, something which, at home, can be tricky at the best of times.
I spent lots of the first lockdown looking at a computer screen. I don’t necessarily regret this. Lots of my academic and personal work involves the internet. Indeed, technology was celebrated at the height of lockdown for bringing people together.
However, this could often become tiring and meant the hours passed very quickly. I’d love to spend more time celebrating the great outdoors. Even in these winter months, exploring the natural beauty of Leamington and campus doesn’t need to stop. While I love the online world, I aim to appreciate the real world just as much.