"We can see the experience as lonely, frightening and empty, or we can see it as a chance to relax, step out of the routine for a while and take stock of how we plan to make the best of the time when all this is over."
It's a familiar sight - the view from your living room window. But it's now so common for many of us that maybe - just maybe - it would be nice to see something else for a change 😁 I decided to take some photos that convey 'life in lockdown' for me and tell you a bit about my experiences of it so far.
How has the lockdown and the "new normal" impacted you? From the perspective of my photography, it has been both positive and negative - negative in the sense that all the photography trips I had been planning couldn't happen (including a holiday in Asia) and my subject matter is therefore limited right now to my immediate environment. But it's also been positive in the sense that it's given me the much-needed time to set up my website, practice with my new camera and even consider subject matter that I might not have previously considered! Maybe it's been the same for you; maybe you found time for things you wished you could do for ages. Or maybe new commitments have emerged that take your time and energy, that you never foresaw. In any case, trips away, holidays and days out have had to remain in our dreams and memories for the time being.
Like so many, I have also been working from home during this period. An irony is that before this happened, I had been dreaming of days where I could just go out with my camera in the fresh air rather than sit in the office. Sure enough, that opportunity arose. I couldn't work much during the first two weeks, so get out and about was exactly what I did. I would describe it as a welcome break from the norm and was exactly what I needed right at that moment in time. I remember jumping on an empty bus and heading to the sand dunes and breathing that fresh air and just feeling free for a while! It was not long after that, though, that I had to start working and avoid the public transport as much as possible ☺️
Even with the busyness of working from home on a laptop, my afternoon walks (often with my camera) are something I cherish these days and am making the most of. Spending the day in the home environment where the worlds of home and work merge can be overwhelming at times, but there is a sense of calm that comes from being able to control your workspace. For me, bright tulips have cheered up my apartment. I enjoy the sun pouring in during the mornings and the peace and quiet as I get my head into whatever I need to do on that day. I think working from home, while isolating and at times challenging, provides a space to breathe during the week and escape the rushing around normally associated with a weekday morning. I love being able to relax more over breakfast and I highly recommend taking a habitual walk when you finish work, just to clear your mind, get some fresh air and create a transition between work and home life. It's helped me keep a balance.
But this, I know, is not the experience of everyone. What if your kids need your attention? What if you don't even have a job anymore because of this crisis? Some people are going through tough times right now that don't allow space for doing hobbies or relaxing and my heart goes out to those people. For myself, being unable to travel home to the UK and see family is the hardest part of the situation (and not knowing when that will be possible again). I'm facing my birthday on my own this year. Family only exists in photos and on FaceTime right now...but the best we can all hope for is that our loved ones are safe. I have luckily managed to have a couple of socially-distanced meets with friends lately, and the moments of interaction with staff at my favourite local cafes when I go to buy coffee are welcome opportunities to chat with others face to face. But it could be the case that the next time I see my family will be the time I leave The Hague to return to the UK, and that will make it all the more emotional and difficult in a different way. We all need our family and friends and perhaps will value them all the more after this experience.
What if you are a very socially-active or extroverted person? How do you cope with the reduced interaction these days? I don't mind alone time and in fact value it, but there are times when it can be hard. It all depends on how I feel at the time. My greatest anxiety is that life feels as though it is "on hold" - all the things I hoped I could achieve this year no longer seem possible. I had so many plans in mind for 2020, as I am sure you did too...now those opportunities seem to have vanished, with no clear certainty when life as we once knew it can resume. But rather like the photo above, we can see the experience as lonely, frightening and empty, or we can see it as a chance to relax, step out of the routine for a while and take stock of how we plan to make the best of the time when all this is over - it's really a matter of perspective.
Those of you who know me well know that health and fitness are important to me and I am regularly in the gym (twice a week with a trainer - I miss you Dennisson! - and also taking part in classes). It almost feels terrifying to not be able to do all of this anymore! In that sense, I have had to adapt and do new things at home to keep it all going where possible. Whilst I miss everything I do at my gym, I have learnt to love training at home the best I can! What's more, to worry about it is senseless because it is out of my control. It definitely helps your state of mind to keep exercising and I still look forward to my workouts - give Les Mills On Demand a try if you are looking for something to do (Grit Strength, Body Combat and Body Attack are all great! 👍🏻)
So, home has become an even more familiar place than usual. But amidst the challenges and uncertainties, the missed events and fears, new opportunities and moments to step back from the usual routine have emerged. Perhaps when things are normal again, we will all have so much more appreciation for it and for the freedom it brings. Until then, the few square meters of home are where life will revolve! And why not enjoy it? Why not just try to see the positive benefits and remember that it is temporary and that none of us are really alone. We can decide today to make more of life when the chance returns.
What has been your experience of life in lockdown? Are there things you've enjoyed or things you will be glad to see the end of? Have you felt lonely or have you valued some quiet time? I'm interested to hear your experiences!
Also, if you enjoyed my photos, please let me know and share this post if you think others would also enjoy it.
Don't forget to check out my galleries where all my photos are available to buy in different formats and products, and if you sign up to my newsletter on my homepage you'll also get my ebook '9 of My Favourite Photos and the Stories Behind Them'.
Stay safe everyone ❤️