What I got up to in lockdown.

Let me start this jolly list-post with a casual but firm reminder that lockdown isn’t old news. In my honest opinion, it should still be in effect because we have a lot still to fear… but then at the same time, it’s my birthday this weekend coming and I want to have all my friends with me for it. Tough time for my principles, to be quite honest with you. I appreciate your concern for me.

Photo: Erin Veness (safe distance etc., etc)

Anyway, I was told by my beloved NHS that I needed to shield at the end of March, etc., etc., I’m sure you’re sick of hearing about this by now, aren’t you? Well, for those of you who don’t know, I was told I didn’t need to shield so strictly any more, initially by my brilliant endocrinologist, who I spoke to over the phone, on the 13th of May. This was then reinforced by my sassy, caring and no-nonsense GP a couple of hours later, in a phone call that interrupted my 6pm virtual yoga class. He told me I could, in his words, ‘be normal’. I was blown away by the fact that suddenly I was… not actually free, but definitely a lot freer. I went for a seafront walk the next day with my mama, at a safe distance, in the late afternoon. What a moment that was. I can’t lie to you, my readers, after getting a slightly reluctant ‘alright, but maximum PPE and only at anti social times’ OK from another one of my GPs (I need a team of them, I’m very high maintenance y’know), I’d been sneaking out at 7am the odd morning to have a quick walk by myself towards the end of the shielding period. It was vital for my mental health, after all those weeks cooped up in my teeny flat. Rest assured, I’d only dare to take 30-45 mins, and only walk around my block or along to the ‘quiet end’ of the seafront, with clingy gloves and a face mask on. I’d then jump straight in the shower when I got home, and throw all my clothes in the laundry bin. It wasn’t the best practical experience, but it helped my mind enormously. I did feel ashamed, though. That I couldn’t be strong enough to stick to my guns and put up with being indoors and having my step count rarely surpass 500 each day.

So as you can imagine, being able to walk around in full public view, with someone else, was just incredible. That had been one of my little goals... Oh, I’m glad you asked! I came to appreciate setting myself teeny little goals each day in lockdown. I’d tear off a scrap of paper from my notebook and write a short list of tasks/treats I wanted to do, at some point in the 24 hours stretching out endlessly ahead of me. I was very wary of the societal pressure to be ‘productive’ during lockdown; dozens of people I knew were committing to learning a new language, knitting blankets, sewing face masks, setting up an Etsy shop, writing novels (oops, I totally did that one), doing online cooking courses, bingeing whole series on Netflix, becoming addicted to Joe Wicks’s daily PE lessons… I just didn’t want to get on that dangerous hype.

The kind of little goals I’d set myself were: take out recycling, re-pot plants, doodle for 1 hour, finish this series of ‘How to Get Away with Murder’, buy new backpack, video chat with Louise, have coffee out on my roof, finish reading this book, check out ASDA online order… it was very rewarding and calmed my mind, being able to complete ‘tasks’ and tick the little boxes I’d draw next to each bullet point, but not exerting too much energy or putting too much pressure on myself. I’m definitely going to keep doing this, after the Covid madness dies down.

Another thing I’d recommend you do to feel some satisfaction and low key retrospective productivity, my friends, is go back through your diary/calendar/phone/social media posts and make notes of all the different things you managed to do in lockdown. You’d be amazed. Also, have a think about just how much time you’ve had to sit with your thoughts, self care, make measured decisions, and virtually catch up with friends and family you might not get the chance to speak to that much, in ‘normal life’.

Okay, on that pensive note, here’s what yours truly has got up to in the past 4 months of shielding/’normal’ isolation... 

  • appeared in GRAZIA magazine – the actual print edition, not just online!

  • Became obsessed with the Scrubs podcast, ‘Fake Doctors, Real Friends’ (and their adorable theme song)

  • started a life coaching course with Tilda Storm

  • grown several crops of basil, and made pesto out of them, twice. (thank you for the gift, Emma)

  • bought approximately 29475 plants, and only one has died… so far.

  • Attended many, many webinars.

  • Ordered a couple of boxes of doughnuts.

  • Written a few chapters of a book.

  • Appeared on the BBC website and social media, talking about being a 20-something shielding.

  • Spent hours upon hours out on the roof of my neighbour’s kitchen, reading and writing and listening to podcasts.

  • Got a pretty dope tan, no doubt from the many hours on the roof in the baking sun. Sunglasses tan lines and everything.

  • Attended several Resonate events via Zoom (and every time I was making, then eating, my dinner, while listening to others reading their poetry or play their music)

  • clapped for the NHS, and felt warmed by the amount of people across the UK doing the same. Then rolled my eyes at myself, because really, we need to be doing more than just leaning out our windows and slapping our hands together or banging pots and pans once a week. C’mon, people.

Photo: Erin Veness (safe distance etc., etc)

  • Done virtual yoga classes at least once a week (sometimes twice, sometimes thrice).

  • Boogied a lot, live on Instagram. In fact, I did it every morning for a couple of months. It helped me massively.

  • Did an interview for a Norwegian newspaper (and subsequently had many messages via social media from kind Norwegians).

  • Done a lot of catch up calls and quizzes with my colleagues (and felt like a nerd, because I miss them and my job so much)

  • wrote a blog post for Plant Base, one of my favourite vegan cafes like, ever.

  • Started making the most of little things.

  • Bonded with my flat (Dora), finally.

  • Got takeaways from a lot of the local places (and been angry that I had to pay £3 for delivery when normally I could walk to the end of the road to collect).

  • Washed my clothes in my tiny bath tub, and dried them on the roof.

  • Watched a LOT of Netflix. (there will be a separate post about that, in myWhat I’ve Watched series, probably)

  • Done a vlog AND blog posts for The Brain Tumour Charity

  • Made actual meal plans, based around the expiration dates on fresh foods in my fridge. (WHO AM I)

  • Written a good few sponsored blog posts, and realised I’m alright at copywriting.

  • Taken on a couple more social media management jobs… and realised I’m alright at creative caption/post writing. AND spreadsheets.

  • Downloaded the House Party app, and exclusively used it to watch Drag Race each week with Rikki & Mel.

  • Ordered Easter doughnuts online to be delivered to the parents’ house, and felt like a top daughter.

  • Done a few Instagram live streams for my workplace (and really enjoyed them).

  • Discovered Viv Era vegan meat substitutes. Game changer.

  • Remembered how much I love doodling, and found a lot of mindfulness in doing it.

  • Chatted on a few friends’ podcasts (see my socials for links).

  • Gone for a walk through a park I hadn’t been to since I was tiny.

  • Changed my invoice format (no joke, this excited me no end. Thanks Penny for the new template!)

  • Had an MRI and consultation with my neurosurgeon.

  • Rescheduled my appointment with the super-handsome cosmetic surgeon.

  • Attended two local (and safely conducted) BLM protests.

  • Had one of my favourite doggos sleep over at my flat, and then walked him along the seafront the next morning.

  • Picked up dog poo for the first time in my life, on a busy main road.

  • Had friends come down to visit me; for doorstep chats at first, then seafront walks.

  • Moved my furniture around, and got really excited by the minuscule changes it made to the vibes of my rooms.

  • Ordered books from A Great Read with some of my furlough pay, and then got angry because my furlough pay is quite tragic and I can’t afford such luxuries.

  • Had so many random acts of kindness from friends, buying me treats from my Amazon wishlist! (and annoyed my neighbours by accidentally making them collect all the deliveries… eventually I got my own doorbell)

  • Over-watered several of my plants, but only killed one. RIP Charles.

  • Didn’t wear makeup for approximately 13 weeks, and didn’t miss it at all.

  • Grew my hair stupidly long, against my will, but ended up liking it a bit.

  • Become an absolute wizard at making graphics on Canva.

  • Drunk a lot of gin.

  • Made friends with a family of foxes.

Photo: Erin Veness (safe distance etc., etc)

There’s definitely more I’ve done/achieved, but I’ll leave it there for now. What have YOU been up to in lockdown? Anything you’ve learned, or small achievements you want to celebrate? Comment below, or tweet me perhaps. Stay safe, my gang. 


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