Life under lockdown: How I'm trying to make the best of social distancing and not going out

Photo by Yulia Khlebnikova on Unsplash
Social-distancing has surely got to be a shoe-in for the Oxford Dictionary's word (two words?) of the year. Everyone's talking about it - to each other on the phone or messaging, obviously, not in person. How strange and different the world seems since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, and how quickly we've all got used to the changes being under lockdown has brought.

Last week was the last week of my degree. Since Christmas, I'd been locking myself away studying to pass my final exams. I ditched all of my social engagements in favour of hitting the books. I saw no one apart from my course-mates and pretty much sat on my own in my flat, desperately cramming facts into my weary brain. I had plans for after the exams: I'd go out, see my friends, visit museums, walk in the sun. You get the idea. Then coronavirus happened, and my plans radically changed. No more going out or meeting friends down the pub, just staying home, trying not to get sick or make anyone else sick.

For us, lockdown means no social life, just the odd trip to the supermarket and a walk around the neighbourhood for a change. So, what do you do when you have to spend all day, every day at home? I saw this thread from a former submariner on Twitter about how to deal with living in an enclosed space for longer than you'd like, and I've been trying to apply his advice to dealing with lockdown.
So, here's how I've been using his tips to cope with, and even enjoy, some enforced time at home.

1. Routine: Time seems to fray around the edges without some structure to it. Normally, that structure comes from school and work. When there's no school and there's no work, where does the structure come from? I guess you have to make it up. Weekends are fair game, but during the week, I'm still trying to get up, eat, and go to sleep at the same time as normal. As me and my other half are both working from home now, lunch is now the big meal of the day. Lunch is always the highlight of a day at work for me, and now my kitchen is just a few minutes away from my desk, I'm taking advantage of it to make some fancy-ass meals.

2. Eat: I don't need much encouragement to spend my free time cooking, and now I'm not spending two hours a day travelling, I feel like I can take time to make desserts and bread, and all those things that I normally don't get time to get around to that make a meal a bit more exciting. To balance out all the fancy meals I'm cooking, dinner's are nice and simple - it's soup for most meals in the evening.

3. Connect: If there's been one upside to the whole lockdown period, it's the way it feels like people have taken the chance to get on the phone to people they don't talk to enough. It's only been a week, and I've spoken to loads of people that I wouldn't have otherwise had the chance to -- good friends, old friends, new friends, fallen out of touch with friends, relatives, the whole works.

Photo by heather mckean on Unsplash
4. Clean: Does anyone enjoy cleaning? Normally, I'd say no. But after a week of indoors life, even cleaning starts to seem like a pleasant distraction. Given the uncertainty of the food supply at the moment, it seemed like a good idea to clean the kitchen from top to bottom, then make an inventory of what's in the cupboards and the freezers, and what meals we can make with the supplies we have. The queues outside the supermarkets and the empty shelves when you get inside make me even less inclined to venture to the shops than normal, and I'm not a fan of shopping on a good day. In a time of massive uncertainty, it feels reassuring to know we have meals for a while.

5. Exercise. Yes, I've been doing this. It's still not fun, but I'm pretty sure it's doing me good.

6. Privacy: The wise submariner said make time for yourself, to go off and do whatever you like without your housemates/family/whoever else you live with. For me, that's the excuse for a long bath and an even longer book.

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  1. I had grand plans for 2020 too that seem to be gone down the drain with all the soap and water! Congrats on your final exam. And on having decent lunches. I find that working from home and having a kid at home most of the time does not leave me much time but I have managed more phone calls than usual and so much time on zoom. I am really looking forward to some leave from work next week and I really appreciated last weekend. Are they asking for med students to help in hospitals in UK like they are in Australia?


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