Nowadays, when I talk to people about lockdown restrictions, the conversations take a decidedly exhausted turn. Although we all support each other and realise that this strategy has led to great results – nearly 11 weeks in lockdown is taking its toll on our Mental Health. And rightly so – it has made it harder for us to do many of the things we took for granted but really did help us to maintain balance – things like catching up for a coffee with a friend or get out of the house to be entertained and explore new ideas.
While I firmly believe lockdown has presented us with many opportunities to learn about ourselves, our wellbeing needs and our emotional resources… I too find myself looking forward to some lifestyle changes.
With numbers lowering, I am sure many of us spent Sunday morning anxiously awaiting Daniel Andrews’ Press Conference – yet another statement that would have seemed very strange a year ago! Who would have considered a political press conference would have nearly as many viewers and as much anticipation as the AFL Grand Final! Gosh have our lives changed so much over the last seven or eight months!
While we are not entirely free to resume our normal lives yet – and may have to accept there will be a new normal, rather than a return to normal, these new announcements do provide us with some opportunities to improve our lives and have a more positive outlook. This might come naturally – a sense of great relief about the new things we will be able to do, or we may have to use some strategies and positive self-talk to help us see the benefits.
Here are some of the things that stood out to me as good opportunity for hope and positivity:
Unlimited Time to Exercise Outdoors
Now that we can freely exercise and socialize outdoors – we should try to make the most of this. Sunshine and nature have such a positive impact on our Mental Health – so we should embrace making significant plans for outdoor activities as the weather gets better. Take a ball down to the park. Plan long walks. Embrace those outdoor activities that are about to open up again like tennis and skateboarding parks and golf. On weekends, we can begin to spend whole afternoons and days outdoors – so much better for us than just watching TV!
Increased Number of People Able to Meet Outdoors
Yet another reason to celebrate! Now we can have long picnics with a partner household, and encourage young people to interact in the outdoors in all the ways we mentioned above. This is our best opportunity to connect with others – and to remember just how wonderful the humble picnic can be in good weather. We have done one each weekend for the last few weeks in my household – just with the family members, and it has been lovely. Now you won’t even have to pack up as time runs out!
25 Glorious Kilometres
I have marvelled over the last ten weeks at just how much I did not know about my local area. I found new parks I didn’t know existed, and new places to walk and see…. There were times that this was a wonderful experience that I was grateful for.
If we embrace this same mindset for our new 25 kilometre limit, we could experience that same sense of wonder. Why not challenge each other in your household to find new places to explore? Ask your friends who live locally but outside the old 5 kilometre radius what they recommend?
It may not seem like a lot – and there may be some things JUST outside that radius (such as my beloved Mount Cannibal which I discovered in Lockdown 1) – but there will be wonderful things to rediscover and experience for the first time if we embrace a grateful mindset about this.
And perhaps more powerfully, embracing the opportunities to make tentative plans for better and more “free” times ahead. We are taking steps closer to more freedom and spread of movement. Now could be a time where you carefully and with a sense of possibility, make the plans we have not been able to make this year. You may be able to travel within the state over Christmas. You may be able to resume some of your favourite hobbies and practices soon. And goodness knows, I’m grateful we can all get a haircut!
Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels