People searched Google for the coronavirus hashtag 18.7 million times per hour, across the world in early February, 2021. The same week, it was 1,915,988 hits per hour for Covid. The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported a worldwide total of 105 million cases to date, and tragically this included 2,309,370 deaths.
We are extremely knowledgeable now, about something most of us had never heard of, just over twelve months ago. This week, while the search trend for Covid-19 is down to 15% of its peak in March 2020, we are deepening our expertise. The trend for vaccine searches has rocketed by 96%, compared to February 2020. We are immersed in, and consumed by, Covid-19 and coronavirus.
Disruption and despair
Without exception, we have all experienced significant disruption to our lives, day-to-day, and now year-to-year. We have all felt strong emotions too. Ranging from:
“I’ve made more sacrifices than anyone else” and
“If everyone obeyed the rules we’d be out of this mess” to
“How can I help others get through this?”
And the difficult thing about these thoughts is that I’m not quoting different people in different towns, of different ethnicities or ages. I’m just talking about individuals – me or anyone else – dealing with the full gamut of feelings, day to day, and minute by minute. Often – all at the same time, and sometimes irrationally, based on primal instincts. Friend or foe? Fright or flight?
Covid-19 has been a breeding ground for apprehension and fear of the unknown. With this comes a range of behaviours, and the whole experience has had a huge toll on our mental health and well-being.
When all is said and done, what can I add?
With this level of knowledge and despair, what can I possibly add? How can I choose my words and actions to help ease our collective pain and encourage people to stay positive?
I am quite sure you don’t need to know the detail on my shelved Sicilian holiday, dashed dreams of my daughter, or even the names of friends I didn’t get to say goodbye to. Except to explain that I completely understand the choice of positivity over pain is not always easy.
And, even as a pragmatist, there have been times when my science background got in the way of my positivity, and I have wept and worried too. 21st March 2020, being the most notable. It was my birthday and (partly by coincidence) we had planned a big family reunion in Oxford with relations flying in from NYC and Geneva. All cancelled, and at a time when we were particularly fearful of the great unknown.
The best thing I feel I can personally do, is to pick out my positives from the last twelve months, and gently encourage you to reflect and focus on the same. I can use my life experience to reassure younger people, my white privilege to support minority and vulnerable communities, and my life skills to empathise with my peers. After all, I’m just a normal person, single parent, semi-retired with far more time at home over the last twelve months, than I could possibly have imagined. But it hasn’t all been bad. Who hasn’t promised themselves they would take up a particular activity or interest ‘when I have time’?
My lockdown list
So here’s my list of hobbies and activities that have – unexpectedly – kept me busy over the last year.
- Cross-stitch and embroidery, albeit with more help from a magnifying glass
- Jigsaw puzzles and crosswords
- Re-read childhood books, including the Water Babies by Charles Kingsley and Donkey’s Glory by Nan Goodall
- Browsed through photograph albums (having cleared many out a couple of years previously)
- Listened to ’70s LPs from my student days – Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and more
- Created a wider range of evening meals and even made cheese scones
- Decorated my hall, including painting eight door-frames in a contrasting colour
- Made and fitted three shelves
- Discovered a myriad of local walking trails built on old railway tracks
- Found several new footpaths into my local Country Park
- Appreciated my 22 year-old daughter living back at home to study online for her MSc.
- Worked out how to use an Amazon locker
- Shopped online for most clothes and household essentials
- Started online grocery shopping – which I now prefer
- Bought all my Christmas presents online from Etsy
- Dug out and donated overgrown plants to my local community garden
- Planted over 300 spring bulbs in my garden
- Achieved and (more or less!) maintained my Slimming World target weight
- Set up a WhatsApp group to stay connected with siblings and cousins
- Helped my local friendship group to stay connected with coffee mornings on Facebook rooms
- Liaised with my city’s Community & Voluntary Service to link their Covid support with local Facebook Mutual Aid Groups
- As a volunteer, I coached a BAME healthcare CIC on long-term planning, volunteer inductions and funding research
- I’m currently volunteering at a new vaccination hub near the city centre
So just when I thought everything Covid-19 and coronavirus was said and done, I found something to add. Drawing up a list of all the activities I’ve done over the last twelve months has reinforced to me the positives of lockdown life. I hope it encourages you to do the same. I would love to hear about what’s on your list. What has motivated you to stay positive over the last twelve months?
However, if you are struggling in these difficult times, you are not alone. Please get in touch, I am happy to talk and to signpost you to appropriate sources of support and help. Please contact me on 07824 660120, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. With very best wishes.
Maureen Whyman, Lose the Box, Nottingham.