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What did we learn from 2020?

What did we learn from 2020?

2020 was a turbulent year that was for sure, and totally unexpected. At the beginning of the year Covid was something that was happening in China and we weren’t overly concerned about it. By February it was starting to become apparent that a pandemic was emerging and we were part of it. We had to adapt our everyday lives and we started living through what felt like a film set at first, until it became more and more real.

Everyone has a different story of how Covid has affected them, some positive and some negative, but despite this we have all learned from this unprecedented experience.

So what can we take from 2020?

1. Health is Wealth

With the death toll steadily approaching the 100,000 mark we must appreciate how lucky we are to still be here. Covid does not discriminate, it spares no one. It doesn’t just take the vulnerable it also snatches those of use who have no underlying health issues too. We have learned that life is precious and has been cut short for so many. Life is too short and we should make the most of the time we are here. I am lucky enough, not to have lost anyone close to me, but all my family up North have had the virus and it wipes you out more than you can imagine.

Jo Wicks inspired us all to try and keep fit in the first lockdown, with his morning PE lessons. We all became more aware of how exercise is not only important for your physical health, it’s vital for your mental health too. In the first lockdown gym’s were closed and we had to find other means to keep fit, limited to leaving the house only once per day many of us decided to use this time to take a walk. Now in the third lockdown, when I go on my daily walk with my dog I am seeing so many people walking, way more than usual. People are getting out and about more by walking as they are so restricted on what they can do.

Following the end of the first lockdown we became aware of the effect lockdown had had on people’s mental health, especially for those who were living alone or shielding. It has become more socially acceptable to talk openly about your feelings and the rollercoaster of emotions which covid has made us endure. Due to this the government introduced support bubbles in order to try and overcome these effects. Mental health was something which people were scared to talk about and it was a sign of weakness to those who didn’t understand it.

I must admit I am someone who has never suffered with anxiety and depression and didn’t understand how people could be so down and not focus on the positives as I do. But even those of us who don’t usually don’t suffer had an insight into what it’s actually like, I was one of those people. At first I was happy I was furloughed and getting that precious time with my family that I never usually got, then came the worry that I wouldn’t have a job at the end of it all, how would I pay the bills? Then my little boy would do something to make me laugh or show me how intelligent he was whilst doing his school work and I’d be back on a high again. Then I’d be thinking about when I would see my family next and I was an emotional wreck again. I was definitely on the Coronacoaster! I’m not one to keep things bottled up though and I talk about how I feel, and it definitely helps, once I started talking to friends about how I felt, I realised I wasn’t alone. Everyone was going through the same thing. Mental health is no longer a taboo subject, it’s OK to not be OK.

2. We need to slow down Before the pandemic hit us we all led such busy lives, I for one would rush here there and everywhere. I would rush to get the kids to school before getting caught in rush hour traffic each morning on the commute to work. I was stressed before I’d even got to work. Then I would hit traffic leaving work and then rush back to get the kids, get home, sort the tea, clean the house, the list goes on, I didn’t stop. I know so many people can relate to this. One thing lockdown did teach us was that we were all burning the candle at both ends. We never had enough time for ourselves, for our family. Closing schools and telling people to work from home when possible gave us back some significant time that we otherwise would never have had. We didn’t realise it but the fast paced lives we were all living were killing us, slowing it down is what we all needed for our physical and mental health. I felt so much better in the mornings having nothing to rush around for, it made life less stressful that was for sure. 3. We are more capable and resilient than we think Let's face it none of us would have thought we could adapt to changes as well as we have. If someone would have told us in 2019 that we would be living through a pandemic which would would result in us working from home, home schooling the kids and having to que to do our weekly shop whilst wearing a mask we would never have believed it and we would never have imagined that it would start to become the ‘new norm’. We all had our schedules and routines before all of this and even if you are a spontaneous person who doesn’t like routine, you’ve been affected too! No last minute plans to make, as there is no where to go. I never thought I would take the plunge and start my own business, but I had the imagination and the ambition and I went for it, as I had nothing to lose. These opportunities don’t happen very often and we should embrace everything that life throws at us. All these changes and restrictions to our lives have happened over such a short amount of time. None of it was gradual, much of it was last minute. But yet we have all adapted, not without concern of course, but we have done it.

4. Teacher’s are amazing

It goes without saying, we all dropped our children off at school and didn’t give a thought to how the teacher had planned their day and what it entailed. The patience that teachers have is incredible! Homeschooling was sprung upon us without much thought and organisation during the first lockdown, many of us were/are working from home whilst having to play at being teacher too! It’s a battle to get the kids to do their work when they’re out of their usual routine and trying to fit in their routine around your work schedule isn’t an easy task, trust me I know! Every parent who has had to become a teacher too, you're doing incredible! Covid has definitely taught us to appreciate the job which teachers do, they may not have another job to juggle at the same time but they don’t just have one child to try and keep captivated they have 30-40! So well done to all the parents who are home schooling and to all the teachers that choose to teach our children you’re doing great!

5. We take things for granted

We’ve always taken things for granted but it’s become increasingly more evident that we shouldn’t. Usual everyday things like going shopping, walking around town and going in and out of as many shops as you want, taking an impromptu visit to your local pub, having a meal in a nice restaurant, going to the gym, (all whilst not wearing a mask!) visiting friends and family, going to a party - a hug!!! All these things we took for granted before the pandemic. We never thought any of these things would be taken away from us. Once the pandemic is over we will all count our blessings and appreciate these things much more. Nothing in life should be taken for granted, we just don’t know what’s around the corner.

6. Technology is important

Could you imagine if all of this would have happened to us before wifi and the internet? The main reason we have got through these hard times is due to the technology which is at our fingertips. Without the internet even more of us would have been out of work, unable to work from home. Children wouldn’t have had the social interaction of teams, zoom or google hangouts, this has been important for our children's social development and interaction with teachers. Not only that, but it has also taught children at an early age how to use technology to their advantage.

During the first lockdown zoom quizzes became a new phenomenon! A way of keeping ourselves entertained as well as being able to socially interact with our friends and family. Without this technology our lives would have been totally different.

Unfortunately technology also has its drawbacks. Scammers have used covid to prey on the vulnerable by using emails and text messages relating to covid in order to fraudulently access people’s finances. It’s a shame these people haven’t learnt the same lessons we have from the pandemic - people are what keeps the world going and being kind and appreciative goes a long way!

7. We are able to learn new skills

Thinking back to the beginning of the pandemic when people were panic buying and mass purchasing toilet rolls, bread, pasta and rice, many of us turned to baking bread ourselves, which led to a shortage of flour and yeast. I say many of us, I never, that’s one thing I’m not so good at, but I do like to bake and I did plenty of it, in the first lockdown. This tells us that despite being unable to get our hands on essentials, we are capable of adapting and learning with the use of the internet of course! It didn’t just stop there, many people were furloughed with spare time on their hands so took to doing some DIY around the house, those of us who would usually get a decorator in to do the job, took to tutorials on YouTube. I had a long list of things which needed doing around the house, we painted the porch and the lounge and even the fence in the garden. We’ve learnt that we can adapt and learn new skills when we have the time and the resource to do it.

8. Appreciation of loved ones

The pandemic has been hard on families and friends, having the social aspect of our lives taken away has got to have been the most difficult thing about the restrictions. It’s the thing which I have missed the most, I loved playing host to all my friends. Not only can we no longer mix households but when restrictions are lifted the number of people who can socialise indoors is limited. We’re having to keep our distance from our elderly and vulnerable relatives, checking in on them through a window, scared that we may harm them by simply being near them. Many of us are longing for a hug off of our friends and family, something which we took for granted previously, who’d have thought there would be restrictions on having a cuddle?!

The situation has definitely made us all appreciate the time we used to spend with our loved ones, and we have to hope that the day we can hug and socialise again is not too far away.

9. Sense of community

There’s not many of us that can say that we used to socialise with our neighbours prior to covid. A simple hello in passing was the most interaction many of us would have with our neighbours. Lockdown meant spending more time at home, and that meant seeing more of our neighbours. Restricted to how many times you could leave the house in a day meant if you forgot something with your shopping it was easier to call on a neighbour and ask to borrow a cup of sugar than it was to leave the house again. I’ve had to do this on a few occasions, one of them being Christmas day when I realised I had no stuffing!

I’m thankful for the weather we had in the first lockdown. It brought me closer to my neighbours. We got to know our next door neighbours really well and we would share a drink over the fence together in the sunshine. We ask if there’s anything they want from the shop when we go out and vice versa. I sometimes open my front door to find a present on my doorsteps which always puts a smile on my face and I do the same for them. It’s the little things like this which go a long way to brighten someone’s day. I know I can rely on any of my neighbours for support if I need it and they know they can rely on me, it’s nice to have that support network in place.

Many communities came together for the people who felt isolated, who were vulnerable and shielding. Volunteers rallied around to organise help for those who needed it, whether it was just to nip to the shops for someone, pick up their prescription or walk their dog. Our community already had a facebook page but this was used to ask if there was anyone who needed any assistance, and they also set up a network of volunteers on a whatsapp group and posted a letter through everyone’s doors to say who the nominated person was that would help if you needed to self-isolate. We developed a real sense of community spirit as did so many others around the UK.

Then we took to our doorsteps to clap for the NHS. It got us out of the house, even if it was just at the front door. We gave the neighbours a wave whilst showing our appreciation for those who were keeping the country going and putting their lives at risk on the front line.

The news reported many communities coming together to exercise in their front gardens together every week and celebrating VE day together by having socially distant street parties. Something which would never have happened if it wasn’t for the lockdown. People would have done their own thing, with their families and friends and it would never have crossed anyone’s mind to get together with neighbours in the street.

British people should be proud that we have all come together as communities in these hard times.

10. It’s OK for things not to go to plan

We had never experienced restrictions of any kind before, we had the freedom to come and go as we pleased. If our plans didn’t work it out it was due to a friend dropping out or one of us not feeling well so it would simply be arranged for another time. Now the reason behind plans being cancelled is due to restrictions which we are all under and we are still not sure when our plans can reconvene again.

2020 saw millions of people’s plans cancelled due to the pandemic. Restrictions on flying, mixing of households and leaving your local area meant that holidays, weddings, weekends away and even nights out had to be cancelled. I personally had 3 trips away cancelled.

It was hard to accept at first not knowing when your holiday plans could be rescheduled for, millions of people waiting on refunds from airlines and package holidays and the frustration that came with it. We were supposed to be going to Budapest in March to celebrate my husband’s birthday with friends. We waited 4 months to get a refund from the airline.

We postponed our family trip away for my Mum’s birthday in August and we’re hoping we will get to go this year, fingers crossed by then things are starting to get back to some kind of normal. We also booked a weekend away for November of last year, thinking things would be better by them, but that’s when we had the second UK lockdown imposed upon us, so another trip was cancelled yet again!

It was out of the ordinary for us all, but nearly a year into the pandemic we’re starting to accept that things are more likely to not go to plan and anything is possible.

We have to not lose hope, with the vaccine steadily making its rounds there is light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully soon, not too far into the distant future we will be able to get arranging those plans again!

Whether your pandemic experience has been positive or a negative one, we have learned so much from it. It will make us appreciate our ‘normal’ lives much more and we will all be better people for it. Let’s look forward to getting back to normal!

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