In Their Own Words: 3 things I learned in lockdown
This article is part of a series exploring what it means to maintain a positive mental health, in a world that seems to be constantly moving, unpredictable, and oftentimes stressful. Here are the words from everyday meldCX team members who are living it.
Alongside the rest of the world, I spent a lot of 2020 in lockdown.
As someone who thrives on being out in the sun, meeting friends for dinners, going to music gigs, and exercising out — I found it particularly hard when it all came to a halt.
In the beginning, it was all fun and games. “I’ll see you in two weeks!” I said to my colleagues. However, that two weeks turned into two months, and the novelty of it finally wore off. It stopped feeling like a holiday and more like home confinement.
Reflecting on the many many months it has been since COVID-19 changed our lives, I realized I’ve learned a thing or two (haven’t we all?). Below is a (non-exhaustive) list:
1. Doing nothing can be a form of self-care
From a young age, we’re taught to keep busy. If we aren’t doing something productive, it’s easy to feel guilty and irresponsible. But busy-fever doesn’t do us any good either. Not only does a state of constant busyness increase our risk of burnout, but it also limits our chances to connect with ourselves.
When I landed my first full-time Marketing role, I still kept my part-time job, working weekends at a doughnut shop. I wasn’t actually strapped for money, I just liked having those extra dollars in my pocket. Two years in, I realized that it severely limited my time doing things that I actually love.
Over time, I’ve learned to stop using the word “busy” as a badge of honor. We are not cogs in a machine. Just like how muscles need time to heal after a tough workout, humans need time to recuperate after a particularly exhausting season. “Doing nothing” isn’t a waste of time, it is actually a requirement for us to be the best version of ourselves.
2. True happiness comes from within
Happiness is an elusive thing. Ironically, chasing happiness won’t make you a happier person. Instead, it may make you feel worse, because running after it puts a magnifying glass on the things you are lacking.
During a trip to Goodwill, I picked up a gem of a book titled ‘The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World’. The book chronicles a discussion between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, two people who have experienced extreme challenges, yet came out on the other end loving and joyful.
In it the Dalai Lama said:
“We create most of our suffering, so it should be logical that we also have the ability to create more joy. It simply depends on the attitudes, the perspectives, and the reactions we bring to situations and to our relationships with other people. When it comes to personal happiness there is a lot that we as individuals can do.”
At the beginning of the pandemic, I had to say goodbye to a country I’ve called home for the past five years. It was tough at first. I missed my friends, my apartment, my independence, the way of life that I’ve created for myself... Yet on the flip side, I gained precious quality time with my family, improved my relationship with my sister, and had the opportunity to reconnect with my hometown.
It’s okay to feel down and sad, but not for a prolonged period. Time gave me a new perspective on my situation — and I was able to reframe it in a positive way.
3. The most important gift is health — physical and mental
Our physical health and mental wellbeing should be prioritized. These are things that money can’t buy.
Have people to vent to (whether that person is a professional or a friend), do that exercise, eat a balanced diet, and get enough sleep. It’s ok to set boundaries with people that are toxic to your mental wellbeing. Go off social media for a week or two if you need to. Treat yourself like your best friend. That is the best gift that we can give to ourselves.
At the beginning of lockdown, I created a playlist to help me unwind when I felt like I was falling into a hole of rumination. And I’d like to share it with you! (Click the GIF below for the link)
Share your own learnings & lockdown playlists with Rachel! Connect with her on LinkedIn.