On Thursday 5th November, England went into a second national lockdown. Or, at least, what the government considers a lockdown. Keeping schools, colleges and universities open doesn't exactly scream "lockdown" to me.
Some of us are relieved, although somewhat annoyed that it's come this late. Some of us are fed up and don't believe this will work. Me? I'm scared. The future feels so uncertain and this is such a huge step back. I'm afraid we will never get back to normal, I don't see a way out. Whilst I want everyone to be safe and I want us to beat this virus, I also want my life back.
Of course, if we had followed in the steps of New Zealand, perhaps we would be in a better position right now. And before you scream at me about New Zealand having a smaller population, it's undeniable that their leader is far more competent and caring than who we have in the UK. But, hey, I'm not here to get political, I'm here to talk about mental health.
There's no doubt that another lockdown will be disastrous for people's mental health. And this is coming from someone who isn't just using mental health as an excuse to avoid lockdown, but someone who actively cares and is an advocate. Although my life won't actually change much as I'm unemployed, my days are spent doing the soul-crushing work of job searching, this lockdown still impacts my mental health as I can't go out as much. Having little pieces of normality reintroduced has been helpful. But also, as I mentioned above, I'm worried that things will never get back to normal.
Today, I'm setting myself some goals to focus on during lockdown, however long it may be. Having goals to focus on can be a great distraction, will keep me busy and might also keep me motivated. I had some vague goals set during the last lockdown but I didn't really complete any of them. I'm hoping this time around, I can really work hard.
1. Finish My Novel
My first goal is clear: I need to finish my novel.
I've been working on this novel for a year or two now and I haven't really got anywhere with it. Every time I try to write, my brain just goes blank. Like there's some sort of mental barrier, like a brick wall, standing in my way. Frustration takes over, and I give up. Repeat this process every day and suddenly it's over a year later and you only have 15,000 words that don't really make any sense.
This lockdown is going to be the time I finish my novel, I swear. I've already signed up to NaNoWriMo, a writing competition that helps you work towards a final goal of 50,000 words by the end of November. So far, I've written zero words... we're getting there, people.
2. Learn Spanish
During the first lockdown, I started learning Spanish on Duolingo and I really enjoyed it. I love learning new things. For just 20-30 minutes a day, I was learning a whole new language. I did start learning it back in school but let's just say for mental health reasons, I never turned up.
This is my chance to start learning again. I may even buy a notebook to keep all my notes in, ya know, really work hard at it this time round. I'll be speaking fluent in no time.
3. Complete a Workout Programme
Chloe Ting has the best free workout programmes. I keep looking at them, determined that I'm going to start one but never get round to it. There's always some excuse, usually that I "don't have enough time." Well, now I have all the time in the world, what's my excuse?
During lockdown, I'm going to complete a workout programme. Not to lose weight (although I won't deny that I would like to lose weight, I'm trying to make sure that it isn't my main goal in life - my new main goal is to treat my body with love and respect), but to get fitter and healthier. To complete something that I can really feel proud of.
4. Go For Daily Walks
As a dog owner, I have to walk daily anyway. But normally, I just take the dogs around the village and call it quits.
Although it's harder to walk further now it gets dark early, having more time in the day means there's a chance to take the dogs for longer walks around different paths and scenery. There's more of a chance to get back in touch with nature and of course to get fit.
My goal is to walk every day for at least an hour. My family always took a nice long route during the Spring/Summer, so it'll be nice to start taking that again.
Those are my goals that will hopefully keep me busy and distracted from everything else that's going on. I encourage you to make a list of goals too, especially if you struggle with your mental health during lockdown. We should also remind ourselves that it's okay if we don't complete any goals, what's important is that we just get through this.
The best we can do is to keep our heads up, which I understand is extremely difficult right now. Some people may actually thrive off lockdown, but I'm definitely not one of those people. Perhaps this time round, I can be.
Until the next time,