While uncertainty is a natural part of life and something we cannot avoid, in these times, I believe we are facing high levels of uncertainty – perhaps as high as in times of war or depression. While I write in this article from the perspective of a Melbournian, I hope the content might resonate with others around the country as well.
While last year we spent over 160 days in lockdown, compared to the 40 we have spent so far this year, both of these lockdowns were lengthy – and we knew they would be. Although we watched the numbers daily to see what was happening, nothing took us by real surprise last year, except perhaps how much our lives have changed when we reflect upon the summer of 2019/2020.
What we are dealing with now is different, we face the knowledge now, which has only been cemented in the last few weeks, that there is nothing about this virus that we can predict. We can go from a day of no cases to lockdown within the space of just 24 hours. And it is this that is the real challenge of living with Coronavirus in 2021 – not knowing when it will next touch our community and how we will need to respond.
Acknowledging that we are feeling this and experiencing these challenges is important – just like map, we have to see where we are in order to be able to see where to go next.
Here are some things you might be feeling uncertain about…
When Will This Lockdown End?
With two long lockdowns in 2020, it is natural to wonder each time we shut down, just how long we are going to be confined largely to our homes again. Although lockdowns this year have been shorter than Melbournian’s experienced last year, the fear of a repeat is natural, especially since the most recent extension this week.
When Will The Next Lockdown Be?
Many of us who enjoyed the largely COVID-free summer almost forgot about lockdowns… and while the five-day circuit breaker in February/March reminded us, it is only now when we are experiencing two lockdowns a week apart that we realise there is no pattern we can follow. An outbreak can occur at any time and we may be locked down on the very day cases appear.
I think this uncertainty on a day-to-day basis is one we are just starting to come to terms with. Until this current lockdown, each had a serious space of time between them. Now, having spent most of the last month in lockdown with only a short break, we view every lessening of restrictions with a sense of skepticism. How long, after all, will each reopening last?
How will I manage pivoting in and out of lockdown?
Many of us are struggling without the capacity to make plans – and while not being able to holiday for example or attend functions certainly has an impact, balancing our professional and personal lives in and out of lockdown is a challenge.
I can only speak as a teacher, but certainly I know plenty of colleagues who had to rearrange units of work and assessments at incredibly short notice to work as best as they can online. I imagine this is true for other workplaces and workers who have to try to find constructive ways to work or work from home.
It’s difficult in terms of family as well, as we find ourselves:
Pivoting in and out of lockdown doesn’t give us a chance to appreciate the time out, or to prepare fully for the time spent in.
When Will Life return to “normal?”
Although we enjoyed what Dan Andrews called a COVID-normal summer, it may take some time before life goes back to what we were used to. And it might not ever quite be as carefree as this again. 2021 has shown us this – that we may need to live in this new normal for quite some time.
With so much to feel uncertain about in the current climate, it is important to have some tools in our arsenal to deal with this. Here are some things that we can remind ourselves on, and focus on drawing upon each day.
Research has proven that gratitude is one of the most powerful tools for lasting happiness and it is vitally important to recognize this during the pandemic. The most obvious example of this is to be grateful for our health and for any creature comforts we have whilst staying at home – although I acknowledge here that many families may in fact be doing it tough.
Searching for silver linings can be useful too in some situations – like appreciating precious time with your family, and time for projects the busyness of life often does not allow us to undertake. Simple pleasures are powerful and we often forget easy joys like baking, puzzling, reading and even just getting out in the sunshine. All these promote positive emotions much more authentically than the latest video game or shiny new toy/piece of jewellery/fancy bit of tech.
Gratitude can be simple – it can be in the form of a daily journal or app or even the simple habit of asking each other for your “best of the day” as you eat dinner together.
Gratitude is a form of mindfulness as well, which is a powerful daily habit. This wellbeing hive article explores it further, and also includes a link to a video from Dr Lea Waters on the role of gratitude in the pandemic.
Personal Wellbeing Plans
We have promoted the value of personal wellbeing plans many times on the Hive, and even suggested not only that the whole family works to construct them, but also that we add a section specific to what keeps us sane in lockdown.
Personal Wellbeing Plans aim to protect and make concrete the practices that help us experience positive emotions and maintain balance. They help us to make these a part of our routine.
Setting boundaries can be crucial in lockdown, when everyone is in the home at once, and many of the habits that might even be in our Personal Wellbeing Plans may not be available to us.
While these plans tell us all the things we should say yes to – our boundaries look at when we should say no.
Saying no is healthy once in a while. It’s normal to put in place caveats on things that do not work for you. It’s crucial in times like these when some of our usual controls and boundaries are not available to us.
Boundaries might include:
Boundaries can be phrased positively, as a way to help you to be your best, and you should try to frame them in this way to both yourself and others. For example, needing to finish a work task on a deadline, or within expected work hours may be a clear boundary that children and other family members need to observe. In this case it could be phrased like: once I finish this task, I will be able to give you my full attention and I look forward to hearing all about that.
Make Hay While The Sun Shines
I think we now all need to be opportunists. When time and restrictions allow, we need to make the most of our freedoms and never put off outings, visits, holidays and celebrations. If you can do it today, do it!
What’s on your “make hay” list after lockdown?
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels