Choosing Joy in Lockdown

Friday, 27 March 2020

Earlier this week, the nation tuned in to BBC1 to watch our Prime minister, Boris Johnson, confirm everyone’s suspicions. Due to Covid-19, the UK is now on lockdown; meaning you may only leave your house for essential work that cannot be done at home, one shopping trip per week if absolutely necessary, and one form of exercise a day.


Yikes.


Monday night was the first time throughout all of this I felt genuinely nervous. I mean, I took the situation seriously before, but I hadn’t felt anxious. But last night, the reality of the virus hit me, and after abruptly turning off the news I battled tears for the impending loneliness and uncertainty of the next few weeks.

When I woke up on Tuesday morning after an uneasy sleep, I had a little cry, and then I decided to avoid the
news and concentrate on the things, no matter how small, that bring me joy. It’s important that we don’t bury our heads in the sand here, but it is also important to keep smiling and positive as worry and overthinking won’t change nor help the situation.


I chose to get dressed. Out of PJs. Out of comfies. Into actual jeans and a T-Shirt. This may not feel particularly groundbreaking, but I couldn’t believe how much it changed my mindset. I went from slumped and grumpy, to a tiny bit positive and productive in a matter of 3 minutes. I washed my face. I feel awake. I brushed my hair and took it out of the bun it had been hiding in for 3 days. I feel semi-pretty. 


I’ve been hiding from social media the past few weeks, not knowing what to say or post. Not wanting to seem too positive and have people feel the situation isn’t important or imperative, but not wanting to be negative either and feed people’s fear. But today I decided enough. I use Instagram for me. So I can be creative. So I took a picture of my bedroom and I posted it. Why? Because it took my mind off of not being out at Nova’s baby group and it helped me appreciate the lovely home I live in. 




It is so easy to fall into the trap of fear. Of disbelief. Of anxious and negative thoughts. It is our choice whether to choose them over thoughts of joy. Of hope. Of thankfulness.


I understand that this is easier said than done, which is why I’ve curated my top tips for choosing joy.

1) Remember that you are a powerful person and your thoughts are not always true.


Don’t believe everything you think. Listen to your thoughts and decide what you want to believe. Do you want to stay anxious? No? Then turn off the news and get yourself out on a (socially distanced) walk. Or redecorate a few corners of your home. Put on music that makes you happy and dance around your kitchen in your pyjamas. (I can fully recommend Rosie Ramsey for inspiration). Bake those cookies you’ve been meaning to bake (I hear Anna’s recipe is not one to be missed…) Learn a language, practice your instrument, start a new hobby. List the things you are thankful for. Focus on what you do have.

2) Discover yourself. What makes you happy?


Carrying on from my first point…. It’s crazy how little time we have in our full, normal lives to actually learn about who we are and what makes us tick. Or it’s just having the time to do those things you wouldn’t normally have time for. Organising your food cupboards (a task for some, a delight for many). Doing a face mask and painting your nails. Hanging up your washing outside (a big one for me!). Lots of people are doing free workouts on Instagram Live - join in! Make a silly TikTok video. Take some time to just sit with a cup of tea, still and quiet. It doesn’t have to cost loads and it doesn’t have to be crazy revolutionary. Just be intentional with your time and choose to make yourself happy.

3) Give yourself grace


It is okay to not be okay during this time. It’s okay to feel worried about the people you love, the country you love or even yourself. It’s okay to feel sad about the holiday you won’t be going on or the birthday party indoors. When finding the joy in quarantine, know that that doesn’t mean you have to feel happy all of the time. Joy is a constant. It is something you choose to carry with you, through tough and happy times. It is a mindset. So don’t beat yourself up for feeling anxious. But choose to continue on through it. 


Be kind to yourself and be kind to others. We will all get through this, maybe a little bit more together than we were before. 


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