Mmm num ba de
Dum bum ba be
Doo buh dum ba beh beh....
Tell me its not only me that as soon as I see the words 'under pressure' starts singing like Freddie Mercury!
Do you remember around mid May 2020, the world felt kinda weird, yet unless you were one of the essential workers, for whom we all give our thanks (and whole heartedly support a pay rise for all Rishi Sunak!) there was very little pressure. Because when you are told that you can not work and that all you have to do is behave and stay at home, well there really isn’t much else you can do.
Now don’t get me wrong, there was all sorts of other psychological shit that we were dealing with, fear, anxiety about the future, home educating for those of us with kids, future security of jobs, wellbeing of loved ones, lack of control etc. Yet the pressure to do stuff was taken away for quite a lot of us, and if you choose to remember how it felt once the shock and panic was less it actually felt quite nice.
Suddenly our time was our own, no running around on school runs, commuting to work, no pressure to wear suits, uncomfy shoes, make up, no pressure to earn the money, prove your worth, be anywhere or do anything.
We all took a collective deep breathe and then let it all go.
And it felt good.
We baked (well some did, I don’t bake!)
We got creative.
We tried new stuff.
We ate together as families, told stories, enjoyed quiet times.
The sun shone and we all grew a little (I mean spiritually not the waistline, well ok maybe the waistline too!)
The problem is I feel like that has been forgotten now. Once society started to open up there was this huge push to get back to normal again. I do blame the government for this as there really was huge amounts of pressure to go out, get back to normal, spend money, support your local shops and restaurants, get back to work, back to school, it's all ok now. Except it isn’t really is it.
Now there is a new fear, a new anxiety a new health crisis if you like.
Covid is still here, well of course it is, it isn’t just going to disappear because we locked ourselves away for a few months, but we are now being blamed by the government for this because of our freedom loving lifestyles (pretty sure it was the government who told us to go out and play!) But now we have the added pressure of doing the right thing, which as I understand it is: isolate if you have symptoms (which are varied and cover a whole host of other things that could be circulating) but don’t get a test because that is selfish, Just take two weeks off of work, if you are lucky enough to still have a job or a business with little or no financial support whilst also going out and spending money to support the economy, but don’t do it after 10pm, and do not enjoy it in any way. And do not see your family if you number over 6, but feel free to meet a group of people from 6 households, well that all clear then!
And the thing is, in this rush to get back to normal we are forgetting the downtime that many of us found enjoyment in. During lockdown I started playing my flute every day, I started singing again, I drew pictures, but since going back to work I have done none of these things. Once again, I have fallen into my own trap of work, kids, sleep repeat. And guess what happened, I got ill!
Nothing serious, just a cold, but a cold that has made me have to not work all week, and it has taken me 4 days to finally embrace the nothing again, to be able to just be, and think about doing what I want to do, to embrace a little bit of me time, even if that does look like watching mindless trash on the sofa whilst cuddling a cat!
You see we are conditioned to always be doing something, achieving something. Downtime is labelled as wasted or lazy. Having kids made this worse for me, as I felt like I spent so much time doing stuff I didn’t want to be doing, or watching mindless trash of a more juvenile nature on the TV that any time that I did manage to prize away for myself needed to be spent doing, achieving, re-finding myself in some meaningful way. And the thing is we find ourselves in the times of quiet. I am so much more functional and productive after a break, but only if I allow myself to take that break.
So, ask yourself, what are your lockdown lessons, what did you discover about yourself in the time when the world said no, when the world said stop, look, listen, be.
Stop pandering to the drama, simply take a minute to stop and question what it is that really makes you feel good. There is so much to be stressed out about, the pressure really is huge, nobody knows what the future holds. Business owners are desperately trying to keep their businesses and services open, employees are terrified of redundancy, families are stressed about health, income, stability, and knowing what the right thing to do is near impossible. We don’t need to discuss that right now, because all will be clearer and easier when you take the time to stop for a moment, take a deep breath and let go. Give yourself a lockdown day, reclaim your headspace and remember what it is you found out about yourself earlier this year that was beautiful and focus on that, take the pressure off for a couple of days, regroup and rise up.
And a final word from Freddie Mercury and David Bowie:
"Can't we give ourselves one more chance?
Why can't we give love that one more chance?
Why can't we give love, give love, give love, give love
Give love, give love, give love, give love, give love?