by Chanté, BSc(Hons) Occupational Therapy
About three weeks into lockdown, one of my family members came tumbling down the stairs with what seemed to be a revelation. He sat me down and started rambling as if he’d found the solution to the pandemic – unfortunately, he had not.
He had instead discovered the key to personal growth in a time where I for one felt as though I’d been temporarily stunted. He began with saying that we’ve finally got ‘it’. ‘It’ being time. All we’ve ever asked for – or at least all I’ve ever asked for – is more time. This, however, is a very specific type of time. It’s one where you have minimal distractions and nowhere to go. It’s a time where you can sift through your thoughts (good and bad) and filter through your experiences. It’s a time to learn.
He continued to jabber on about how we have few excuses after this period. The only excuses we’d have are those that we have little control over or the ones we’d made for ourselves. From a very contrasting view, this quarantine period has been a gift. We’ve been gifted time to change the things we can and reflect, learn and adapt from those that we can’t.
“It’s a time where you can sift through your thoughts (good and bad) and filter through your experiences. It’s a time to learn.”
Up until this revelation, I’d been feeling an overwhelming amount of pressure to achieve something during this chapter. I felt as though I’d be a disappointment if I hadn’t written that novel I’ve always wanted to write or if I hadn’t learnt a new instrument. What I have learnt, however, is that achievements don’t only have to be a skill, career or a major award. An achievement can be learning something new about yourself, mending a friendship that had troubles or making the decision to change something that needed changing. It’s often many small achievements that make the biggest difference.
Although I haven’t learnt how to play the saxophone yet or written a single page of that novel, I’ve learnt how to be present. I’ve learnt that through all the chaos, It’s important to remind yourself that it’s okay to just be. It’s healing, its powerful and enriching.
“What I have learnt is that achievements don’t only have to be a skill, career or a major award. An achievement can be learning something new about yourself.”
I’m lucky enough to have spent lockdown in the English countryside surrounded by fields of rapeseed which dons the most beautiful little yellow flowers. As a quarantine ritual, I’d walk into the fields and just sit and surround myself with the yellow. I’d indulge in the smells and sounds of the fields. Although this sounds pointless and like a cheesy romcom scene, I knew I’d achieved something by this practice because I felt at peace.
I felt comfortable with myself and my decisions. I had used the gift of time. I had made those changes. There’s no doubt that there were periods were I was riddled with anxiety but I’d take my time, my deep breaths and process those thoughts. I’d remind myself that my present needs my presence.
I’ll leave it up to you, but as this bizarre phase of our lives is slowly coming to an end, make those changes because maybe my thrilled relative has found the solution to the pandemic after all.
If you need someone to talk to or just need a bit more support, UWE Bristol has many health and wellbeing services that operate online and are there to help you.