As formal national restrictions come to an end, seven people reflect on the things that the Covid-19 pandemic has taught them about themselves
1. Doing things on my terms
It has taught me so much about how tiring commuting is, how much I enjoy having my evenings free (instead of teaching late yoga classes and commuting), and how healthy that has been for my relationship. It took a while to go online with all my yoga classes and clients, but am very happy and cherish the flexibility. I enjoy time for myself and my own practice, taking it slow, eating at regular times.
Now that we are getting out of lockdown, and I have done a bit of socialising, it is also teaching me how challenging it is to be with big groups of people, how I’m out of the habit of socialising, and how much I need time to reset after. Although that has been teaching me that we are social beings, and being with others are important for our wellbeing, too.
2. The benefits of slowing down
Not long before the pandemic, I had just quit my job as I was so overwhelmed with working, looking after two young children, and managing the household. Instead of slowing down, I filled my time taking my youngest (three-year-old) out and about, meeting up with people, and generally just being 'busy'.
Once lockdown hit, I was forced (like so many) to stay at home. Although it was quite stressful with having two young children around, I found that not being able to do my normal activities actually gave me a big break. I wasn't constantly rushing around trying to get out of the door, or to the next activity that I had planned, I could be a lot more relaxed.
This then meant that I actually had time to listen to myself and what I needed. I started reading a lot more (which I used to love and had stopped doing), and I spent time doing jigsaw puzzles – all things that helped improve my mental health. I found that I was more present with my children, and enjoyed spending time with them and watching them play together, whereas before I would be thinking, "What's next?" The improvement in my mental health meant I could think properly about what I wanted to do for myself. I wanted to work, but didn't think an employed role would work well around my family life, so I thought about what I enjoyed and decided to set up a business doing it. I don't think I would have taken that leap if it wasn't for the pandemic. I think it was a much needed re-set button for my life.
3. Time for self-reflection
I discovered during lockdown last year that I’d been misdiagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD), instead of being recognised as autistic. I’d been thinking the original diagnosis wasn’t right for some time, but lockdown gave me to courage to speak up.
A psychiatrist told me to self refer for an autism assessment, so I did. Through doing this and self-diagnosing as autistic (for now), I’ve learned that I’m actually a very strong person and that there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with me (which is what I thought growing up). I’ve learned that many other women are being misdiagnosed or remaining undiagnosed autistics because of the inequality in the diagnostic criteria. I also learned that sharing my experiences is helping so many women in the same position
4. There’s always time to make a change
Since the first lockdown happened, I left my career practising as a litigation solicitor (law is all that I had known professionally from the age of 18 until that point, when I was 36) and have since been working as a freelance copywriter and editor in the spiritual and wellbeing sectors, and also as an energy healer. Throughout that time, I have also been training as a shamanic practitioner and caring for my four-year-old son when nursery and then school closed.
For me, I would say that Covid has taught me that it is possible to change your life and leap into the unknown, even when everything around you and all the stability we seek from society has been shaken to the very core. It was the catalyst for me leaving a career that was significantly affecting my mental health and family life, to the point that I was considering returning back to medication to manage my feelings. Instead, I threw myself into my shamanic training and really looked at my patterns, beliefs, and the voice of my ego whilst all the time wondering if I had lost my mind in making all of these changes, as my husband and I juggled homeschooling our son.
Covid has proven to me that I am far more resilient than I ever believed I was, and that my health and my little family are truly the most precious things in the world to me.
5. Kindness counts
I have learnt to look after my family and make sure everyone is OK. I am kinder from the pandemic, and my views of others have become more balanced as we have found out people are more vulnerable, and unwittingly now know about their underlying health conditions and their lives. It’s been a tough 18 months, but I think people will come out better people.
6. The joy of being alone
I've discovered I love my own company, and I'm totally OK with that. I've had a few people invite me over to celebrate the end of lockdown and the answer was a firm no, I'm OK.
Pre-pandemic, I would describe myself as a social butterfly. I use to drink, especially after work, be out most weekends with friends, and be the life and soul of the party. Post-Pandemic, I'm a different person. I would even go as far and say a better person, but I've discovered I love my own company, my own time and space, and discovered my new passion.
I recently got my own art studio in Ealing and it's a place of refuge away from the world and a place where I can be by myself and create new artworks.
I started my own art business during lockdown as a visual artist, which is a very solo day job – before I was teaching a class of 30+ students as a lecturer, and got made redundant at the start of the pandemic last year March.
Today, I feel so much more content and enjoy my own time. I have no desire to 'go back to normal', or the way things were before the pandemic. I love my new outlook, job, and perspective on life.
To me, enjoying my company allows me to think, and gives me the clarity that I need to do my job day-to-day, I totally understand that creating art and being an artist is a slightly selfish endeavour, but I love the time I spend by myself, and being alone makes me so happy.
7. The things that really matter
I learnt what's important in life, and that cleaning and having a super tidy house all the time isn't one of them! During lockdown, I embraced spending time with my children and loved being with them. Both children are autistic, and for us lockdown was a lovely time to relax without external pressures or having to go to school.
Also, lockdown made us realise that our children weren't learning quite as we thought, and we realised how hard they find it to concentrate on something – this lead to them both being diagnosed with ADHD, and then myself too at the age of 43! It's been quite a busy 18 months!
If you're looking to make a change in your life, and want a professional by your side, connect with a life coach using lifecoach-directory.org.uk