10 Lockdown Self-discoveries
Living in isolation has made me turn to myself for everything, for better or for worse. From coaxing and cajoling to cuddling and cursing, from getting to know myself better to let go of myself completely out of hand, from living the couch-potato life to developing a healthier lifestyle – I have done it all, trialing and erroring, all in the last few months. The lockdown has become a time for self-introspection and self-discovery.
Here are a list of 10 things I have discovered (rediscovered) during lockdown:
- Staying home can be a pain: Working throughout the week and partying/traveling during the weekends, I had this pleasant fantasy about staying home. How wonderful it would be to just stay home and have nothing to do! My fantasy came true and I have discovered that staying home can be a pain, real pain. My body aches because I stayed still, I stayed home.
- Sleeping can take over 80% of your day: When all you do is “stay home”, your body forgets to respond to the new lifestyle. As a result, you have a weird sleep-wake cycle. Sometimes it’s a no-sleep only-awake cycle and other times it is the other way around. One day last month I woke up around 5.15 pm (in the evening)… my record latest! I didn’t know whether to start my day or end it, whether to have breakfast or lunch or dinner…
- Sugar is not essential for survival: I had set a few challenges for myself for the lockdown period and one of them was to avoid / cut down sugar from my diet. I thought I couldn’t live without sugar. Sugar was a necessity for me especially in the late afternoons or whenever I felt drained at work. Contrary to my belief, I have lived without sugar / any sweet food for the last 3 months. In these three months, I had a handful of strawberries once, a banana once, and tea with sugar once. And I am still alive to tell the tale!
- You can get bored of getting bored: The first lockdown month was a new experience and went in a jiffy. The second month got boring as the new experience was no longer new. There was hardly anything to do and the sheer boredom had me paralyzed. Eventually I got so bored that I couldn’t get bored any longer. I had to get other things than bored. So I started looking for activities to get me out of boredom. Ironical indeed!
- Books can actually be your bff’s: Following the predicament in number 4 above, as I sought activities to get me out of boredom I found an old book and so I started reading it. Soon, I was reading 3 books at a time including a paperback. Getting my hands on a real paper book also helped me take a break from screen time. E-books, audio books, paperbacks – all forms of books, they can be with you even while living in complete isolation.
- Virtual meetings can become a cacophony: Online conferences, webinars, zoom meetings, were all a pleasant reminder of the working days, the busy schedules. After the lockdown, virtual meetings helped provide some semblance of order and I enjoyed the feeling of working online. However, the virtual meetings became a bit too overwhelming when it became the norm, the routine, the obligation. It became a cacophony with everyone jumping into the bandwagon.
- Eating healthy can be a pain: I always ate healthy or so I thought. Actually, I was used to ordering healthy items off the menu from the restaurants I frequented. I knew exactly what to order and how to tweak certain food to turn it healthier. However, since the restaurants I frequented have closed down eating healthy has become very taxing. Most ready-to-eat food items at the supermarket are highly processed or refined or have high sugar content.
- Cooking is easy, breezy, when it’s cheesy: I have discovered that cooking is quite easy. I can’t remember why I was scared of cooking or why I never gave cooking a thought before. Because I was trying to eat healthy (which can be a pain as mentioned above), I had no option but to cook or at least imitate the YouTube cooking videos. Voila! Cooking was much easier breezier than I had imagined it to be. The downside: the taste. Although I have discovered cooking can be easy, I have to admit that whatever I cook can taste awful (read: inedible). Solution: add cheese. Trust me I can eat anything topped / coated / sprinkled with cheese… say cheese!
- Working out / Exercising can solve 99 problems: Despite knowing the numerous benefits of exercising, I still have to motivate / drag myself to stand up and start exercising, every day. I started with spot-marching / indoor walking half an hour every evening just to get some form of exercise in my life. Relaxing after working out is the best reward indeed. Once you start exercising, there is a sort of a domino effect and lots of things fall into place like you eat better, you sleep better, and eventually live better.
- Monotony is never linear: Things like lockdown, physical distancing, self-quarantine / isolation are the same since the pandemic, monotony can still be non-linear. While one day the monotony can excite you, the next day it can paralyse you. You can go back and forth or up and down the level of excitement, anxiety, and inertia, within the monotony.
I did not discover the 10 things above by some happenstance, I have lived it and endured it. Although the lockdown is the same, every month I have reacted and responded to the same monotony differently.
- The first month was all about bracing myself for the virus landing. It was like an adventure that could go south any moment and yet there was a certain thrill to the whole “novel” situation.
- There was anticipation and excitement both. Thus the first month passed in a wide-eyed enthusiasm, trying to do things that I had been missing out on owing to a busy social / work life.
- I was spring cleaning almost every day, using sanitizer to wipe the faucets, doorknobs, tables and chairs, stovetops. I felt safe, I was doing my part to keep the virus at bay, yay!
- When nothing changed in the second month, the enthusiasm went down and boredom crept in.
- The regular cleaning routine turned into an irregular activity and I turned into a couch potato.
- Virtual meetings were happening in full force but somehow I started losing interest in them. I avoided virtual interactions as well and so I went into complete isolation.
- I would be up all night and sleep all day. Perhaps because of the weird sleep-wake cycle, I lost control over my eating habit. I was constantly feeding myself most of my waking moments.
- My life was spiraling out of control.
Month 3 and counting
- As an attempt to get my life back on track, I joined some online webinar sessions – mostly related to mental well-being.
- I read “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg, at least the first portion.
- I started working out (spot-marching) for 30 minutes every day.
- I watched, liked, and subscribed to some cooking channels on YouTube. After watching some 100 videos, I finally tried the doable recipe – Russian Salad. I haven’t looked back since.
- I have discovered that exercising and eating healthy somehow fuel one another. When you work out you automatically want to eat healthy. I am now cooking my own food (one of my many firsts thanks to the lockdown).
All I can now say is that no matter how long I have to live in isolation, there are going to be easy days and some tough days. For the tough days, I will cut myself slack and go easy on myself. If I don’t have the energy to do anything, if I don’t want to do anything, if I can’t make any sense out of things that other people are enjoying – I will give myself time to heal, to bounce back, to revive. I have discovered that there will be a “Month 2” between good times and it is alright, that getting by “Month 2” will make me resilient, and that “Month 2” will eventually pass by.
What has your lockdown experience been like? What have you discovered/rediscovered about yourself?