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The coronavirus experience – Part 2: the positives

The coronavirus experience. Good or bad? How has it been for you? 

These are questions we posed on our blog a little earlier this month, the first of a two-part post looking at life in lockdown, with the focus on the problems posed for parents during the most difficult days in quarantine, with classrooms closed, children at home and so much uncertain for all involved.

Yet not all have struggled quite so much and, for some, taking time out from regular routines has helped to find a fresh perspective, bringing benefits that should not be underestimated.

In this – the second part to the post – we take a look at life in lockdown from an alternative angle (and one that is rather less negative). 

In doing so, we ask once again: The coronavirus experience. Good or bad? How has it been for you? 

   

To point back to our previous post. Remember the BBC headline? “Coronavirus: Home-schooling has been hell.” For many, there can be no question. Life in lockdown has been hard.

For many, perhaps, but not for all.

Here’s another headline, this one taken from The Telegraph…

“Whisper it, but millions of people are enjoying lockdown.”

COVID-19 has had some dire consequences, for sure. But the benefits? For some in the UK, they’re far from inconsequential.

“Not having anything on the calendar has been a blessing in disguise,” Imthiaz Rehman told the BBC last month. “It’s like all the self-inflicted pressure has been lifted [and it has] made me think about what’s really important in life.”

“I feel like I’ve got my work-life balance back,” agreed Hayley Comber-Berry. “It has made me see that there’s more to life than work and business [and] I’ve processed all the negative things that I’ve been hiding. I feel so much happier and more content.”

Does this strike a chord or sound at all familiar?

Research from University College London, published last month, suggested that one-third of people in the UK had ‘enjoyed the lockdown’, this based upon a survey, conducted over 14 weeks and involving 70,000 Britons. Earlier, back in April, another survey, this one from YouGov, found that respondents had appreciated cleaner air, more abundant wildlife, a stronger sense of community, and greater contact (albeit not, perhaps, in person), with friends and family.

So back to the questions posed in our previous post…

The coronavirus experience. Good or bad? How has it been for you?

In asking such questions, we don’t seek to diminish the struggles of those who have found life in lockdown so difficult, for their troubles have been both genuine and valid. Indeed, even the UCL research, referenced above, noted that, although a significant number had reaped certain rewards, the restrictions imposed to contain COVID-19 had highlighted social inequalities, with the UK’s higher earners and those free from pre-existing mental health problems likelier to have ‘enjoyed’ taking a break from their regular routines.

That said, a fresh perspective is important. 

The media might prefer to focus on the negative and this we understand, for the emotional distress and the rising death toll have made for a more compelling tale.

But this is a two-sided coin and, here at CPUK, we’ve found from our patients that, when it comes to life in lockdown, not all has been so bad.

Yes, most acknowledge that it has been boring, odd even, and that getting back to normal is something to look forward to. Yet factor in the space, the peace and the quiet, and the increased time spent together as families, and it is not quite as clear cut as some news reports might suggest.

People enjoying home life together. Going out for walks. Baking. Reading. Playing games. Being creative. Having conversations. Devoting more time and effort to their relationships.

There has been more space for families, with commuting, business and other commercial demands no longer taking up so much time. Not all are quite so desperate to resume their old lifestyles post-lockdown.

Research from ASICS, the sportswear manufacturer, has found that 43% of people in the UK are exercising more now than before the lockdown began in March, whilst more than 850,000 people have downloaded the NHS-backed Couch to 5K app in recent months – this a 92% increase in usage compared to this point in 2019, with the impact of physical exercise on mental health among the benefits to have been highlighted.

So back to that question. Back to that point. Back to that acknowledgement that for many, life in lockdown has been hard – hellish in some cases, perhaps – but that for some there have been benefits – and they’re far from inconsequential.

Focusing too much on the negatives can be unhelpful and unhealthy, self-destructive even, and often, mental wellbeing is not a fixed issue with a single unavoidable response, but a state dependent on attitude and where mind and actions are focused. Responses do vary, but in times of crisis, useful and important realisations can emerge – and these can often be helpful.

So hellish or enjoyable – or, perhaps most likely, something in between – please take some time to think it through, look at the bigger picture, both the bad and the good, and (we hope) you might realise that, although life in lockdown has been hard, things are not quite as clear cut (or as negative) as the headlines might at first suggest.

In conclusion, that question, one last time. 

The coronavirus experience. Good or bad? How has it been for you?