A little guide to lockdown 2.0

Another guide to surviving lockdown. Oh great, you think. Another awe-inspiringly obvious and utterly unoriginal article, adding to that already saturated corner of the internet telling me how to live my life. Hasn’t she forgotten this is Lockdown 2.0! We’ve been here before and we know how to deal with it. What more is there to say?

Well, I would argue, actually quite a lot. This is down to one commonly felt but little acknowledged problem: Our ways of ‘dealing with it’ last time were, quite frankly, crap.

Somewhere, last March, a unanimous code of self-flagellatory rules were written, titled ‘How to do Lockdown right’. The insidious implication being that any lack of not only compliance, but of excellence, in these areas was a kind of moral failing. I guarantee these policies are familiar to you, but they go something like this…

  1. A highly unpalatable exercise routine, the more crunches and burpees the better, and bonus points if your session requires you to set an anti-social alarm clock (A certain friend of mine smugly completed three 7am virtual personal training sessions a week!) Couch to Five K, Chloe Ting, Joe Wicks; any were sufficient. But none of the above and you frowned upon and deemed an unworthy, sloth-like blob.
  2. An ever-expanding and proliferously posted culinary repertoire. If your house doesn’t stink of Ottolenghi cookbooks and homemade sourdough you’ve got it majorly wrong. Having said that, if it’s not organic and wholemeal maybe done bother because…
  3. Health is wealth people! We must, of course, get beach body ready ahead of an unforgettable summer of crouching on your cramped and prickly front lawn. What little money you’ve saved on cafes and pubs, you must now invest heavily in a cocktail of unpronounceable ‘health foods’ which undeniably make you a glowier, and thereby apparently superior, person. And on that note…
  4. Consumption of wine, or any other beverage of the alcoholic variety, is in no way a justifiable way of whiling away an empty April afternoon.Instead, why not try…
  5. A new hobby. And when I say ‘try’, of course I mean ‘experiment with, excel at, master, and ideally profit from a fascinating and fulfilling activity that inevitably becomes your life’s passion and pursuit.
  6. Every evening in your impeccably productive life should be filled with unforgettable virtual social engagements, so decidedly bursting with anecdotes that you can convince yourself, and others, that your life is full of thriving and flourishing relationships.

It is utterly baffling to me that in a world where 60% of young people have felt unable to cope due to stress from the pressure to succeed, we decided the way to ‘deal with’ lockdown was not to rest, recuperate and take a pause from the ceaseless competitivity of the modern world. No, the way respond to lockdown was to create a whole new all-consuming to do list against which to measure our own self-worth. But in thriving for the unobtainable, failure is inevitable. And so, we remained stuck on the perpetual treadmill that, for many young people, simply is life.

So, I suppose we did ‘deal with’ lockdown in a sense. But it wasn’t much fun, was it? And that is why I will now propose an alternative strategy for lockdown take two:

  1. Sleep in because you can! When else in life will all your required weekly engagements be recorded, labelled and provided to you on one neat little website to complete if and when you please? Never. Don’t ignore this luxury.
  2. Fresh air is definitely a good idea at some point. But don’t use it to drag yourself around some dreaded ten-kilometre circuit (anyone who’s had Covid knows walking is arduous enough these days anyway!). Instead, take scenic and sociable strolls around the bailey and cathedral with your housemates and, preferably, very large and steamy cups of take-away coffee. Yum.
  3. Screw the beach body. We’re heading for a long, cold and dark Durham winter, the perfect conditions for plenty of layers and plenty of cake! Try baking, if you want. But if you fail, or can’t be bothered, the Tesco’s Finest Chocolate Cake is £2.75 and sublime.
  4. I deem the copious consumption of wine to be cathartic, potentially even medicinal. And with the nights drawing in, a glass at 4:30pm on a Tuesday afternoon is increasingly acceptable behaviour. What better nourishment for the soul than a fully pjamaed wine, cheese and chats evening with your housemates? I cannot recommend this highly enough.
  5. Embracing a new hobby or challenge is great for a sense of achievement. But why not try and make it something vaguely obtainable and thoroughly enjoyable! Do not add ‘get a six pack’, or ‘learn to paint still-lifes in oil’, or ‘write a novel’ to your To Do list. Start small. I am currently attempting to sample all the little chocolate bars in the 3 for £1.20 section in Tesco by the end of November (Sponsorship and donations welcome).
  6. Socialising is exceptionally difficult at the moment. By all means go on a socially distanced walk with a friend from another household if you like. But if you stumble clunkily through a rushed catch up feeling mildly socially inept, don’t panic. And don’t be fooled by the endless stream of Instagram stories, we are all in the same boat.

Note, from my use of the word ‘strategies’, these are not intended to function as rules but merely as suggestions. Please feel free to disregard the specifics entirely. But hopefully retain something of the sentiment. There is no ‘right way’ to handle lockdown. There’s no way to fail. Just put one foot in front of the other, savour the silver linings, and take care of yourselves and each other. This too shall pass.


Featured image by Georgia Heath

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