}

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Lockdown lessons

Lockdown was an ordeal for all New Zealanders, though how bad it was varied widely from not really bad through to horrible. But regardless of how it affected us personally, we all learned a lot, though maybe not what we thought we would learn (like a language). While the lessons we learned may seem specific so what we’ve been through, I know that the things I learned will prove useful in the future.

The first, and maybe biggest, lesson I learned is that I need to have people in my daily life—people I know, and I need to see them in person, not just over a phone or computer connection. I’ve never done well being all by myself all the time, but that’s something I’d forgotten until lockdown brutally reminded me. Of all the things I learned, this is the only one that I can’t necessarily adapt to future challenges.

It turned out that keeping busy—forcing myself, if necessary—played a big role in getting me through. I’d planned several projects for the time under lockdown, everything from trying new recipes to mowing the lawn, among many others. I also unpacked several dozen boxes. The only drawback was that in my rush to prepare for lockdown, I wasn’t fully prepared for some projects (like not having all the supplies I needed). Even so, my plans and preparation worked exactly as I intended: Not mere distraction, but productive distraction that both got things done and made me feel better because I got them done.

I also learned that it’s very important to have down time. Like many other people during lockdown, I often felt too tired and washed out to do anything, which, for me, was from a combination of factors: The depression from grief, of course, the fact that the enormity of the unpacking job I had (and still have) was daunting and often overwhelming, and that my prescriptions make me tired. When I got too tired, I just let myself do nothing at all. But there was also an odd feeling of boredom (shared by a lot of people, apparently), so despite having so much I could do, there was very little I wanted to do, and that was the main source of my “Lockdown Lethargy”, as I called it.

There will probably come a time I can use all that I’ve learned, though not necessarily all in one single crisis. When separation from the people in my life is unavoidable for whatever reason, there’s not much I can do about that. However, having some pre-planned projects on hand—and I pretty much always do—is a good way to fill time when there’s nothing else I can do—as long as the supplies for that project are adequate. At the same time, giving myself time off is invaluable to coping with a major disruption like a lockdown.

No one wants to see is a return to lockdown because of a “second wave” of infections. But even if we avoid that (and, so far, it looks like we may), there will be other pandemics in our near future. If we’re now experiencing “once a century” weather events with increasing frequency, it seems probable we’ll experience “once a century” disease pandemics from time to time, too. It’s best to be prepared, as best we can be.

At the moment, natural disasters—floods, storms, earthquakes, volcanoes, etc—may all seem more likely to disrupt our lives than a new pandemic, and maybe they are. But pandemics will be a part of our future, and some may be as difficult to control as the current one is.

If we’re lucky, we learn something from every experience we go through, good and bad experiences alike. I’m sure that the things I learned will prove useful in the future. At least, I hope so.

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