Over the past year of national lockdowns, it’s fair to say that everyone has had a different experience. While it’s important to acknowledge the challenges, it’s vital also to focus on positive outcomes
We spoke to three people who have used their lockdown time to their advantage. From healthy eating to bettering relationships, here are three lockdown success stories…
Diane, 47, London
It wasn’t until I started working from home that I realised how much junk food I ate and how little exercise I really did. I got into a routine of grabbing fast food on my lunch breaks for the convenience, and more often than not I’d go for a drink after work with my colleagues.
“I lost three stone and I’ve taken up yoga, I haven’t been this fit since I was 25.”
During the first lockdown, I felt so restless and had no idea how to fill the extra time I suddenly had on my hands. I didn’t realise quite how much of my day was spent commuting and waiting in queues, from the tube stations to the snack bars. There had to be a better way to spend my time!
I started going for a quick walk in the morning before work. Nothing too strenuous, just a 10-15 minute walk around the block, which is roughly the same amount of time I’d spend on the tube to work. For me, this imitated my journey to work, which helped to separate my working day from my home life, as well as making me more mentally ready for the day. And, after a few weeks, I noticed another benefit – I was losing weight.
Being at home for lunch meant I’d ditched the fast food and takeaways, and instead I began my own salads or soups. Dinner time was much the same. Instead of heading to the pub after work, I started a love affair with cookbooks. I was creating diverse and healthy meals, and I genuinely enjoyed the time spent cooking. Dinner was no longer a quick pasta fix or a curry. It was fun, colourful and tasty. Not only did this make me feel revitalised and rejuvenated, but the weight kept coming off.
I started watching YouTube tutorials on yoga and introduced that into my evening routine, starting with 10 minute stretching and working up. Since the beginning of lockdown, I’ve gone down two dress sizes, and I feel amazing.
I’m back in the office now, but I’ve kept to my cooking routine. I meal prep beforehand so all I have to do when I get home is heat the food up. Soups and salads come into work with me, and I haven’t got a takeaway for lunch yet! I feel confident, motivated and fresh every day. The only down side has been the money I’ve had to spend on new clothes to fit my new figure!
Richard, 65, Nottingham
I lost my job right at the beginning of lockdown, and I spent a good few weeks feeling overwhelmed and – I’m not ashamed to admit – quite low. I wasn’t really sure what to do with myself, and it didn’t help that the country was on lockdown. After a while, I was scrolling through Facebook when I came across a friend’s post, which was showcasing her homemade macrame plant pots she’d starting making in lockdown. Everybody loved them, and I remember thinking how amazing it was that she’d taken the time to learn this new craft. I know she has no previous experience in such creations. I suddenly felt inspired to find a similarly creative hobby to fill my day with.
“I’ve started a side-business and have an improved bond with my granddaughter. I’ve got a newfound lust for life.”
The next weekend, I began clearing out my shed after putting it off for well over a year. I came across a pile of old wood still in pretty good nick, and wondered whether it would be worth keeping it for something. As it turns out, it was very well worth it.
A family business?
I started fashioning little wooden garden planters, and realised I had quite a knack for woodwork. I began making a variety of wooden creations, from benches to decorative wheelbarrows. After a few months of improving my skills and having a shed full of my work, my granddaughter Lily suggested selling them. I was initially unsure, as I hadn’t intended to monetise my little hobby, but Lily put some feelers out on social media with some images of my work, and it seemed a lot of people were interested in purchasing them. I think a lot of people spent the lockdown revamping their gardens, so the ornaments were a nice addition to their new lawns.
People starting requesting certain things, so I took some commissions as well as making my original designs. Lily helped massively with sanding and painting, as well as working my social media presence for me on Etsy and Facebook.
We now have a little business, where we sell the things we make with love, and spending all this time with Lily has been a blessing. We are closer than ever. I feel happier and lighter, and I enjoy getting genuine fulfilment out of my little business with my granddaughter. If you asked me a year ago where I thought I’d be now, I honestly couldn’t have predicted this, but it’s worked out in the best way possible.
Elaine, 52, and Mike, 55, Bristol
Elaine: At the beginning of lockdown, I felt incredibly wary about spending every minute of every day with my husband. Don’t get me wrong, we love each other’s company, but our daily working routines were so ingrained in us as habit that it almost seemed we weren’t sure how else to act. Working from home was a weird adjustment to make, and I felt sure that Mike was going to irritating me throughout the day. What if we had to take work calls at the same time? I was worrying a lot at the start, but it actually turned out to be a blessing.
“Our relationship is better than ever, and I can’t believe it took a global pandemic to realise this.”
Mike: We started out as we meant to go on. We took our lunch breaks at the same time so we could eat together, and we made sure that when we finished work, we left our jobs in our home office area. It was great to spend the time together that we’d usually wile away at work. I felt that we were re-learning things about each other and ‘getting to know each other’ again. We cooked together, laughed more than we have in ages, and just enjoyed every moment.
Elaine: We started a rule: every evening, we would have a ‘no screens’ hour. This meant no phones, no TV, no laptops, etc. This was to make sure we were spending time together without distractions. We had Scrabble marathons, chess tournaments and made quizzes for each other. It’s got to the point now where we don’t even have to implement the rule; we just prefer not being on our phones or watching TV. And our sex life has changed for the better.
Mike: I think we had sex a healthy amount before the lockdown, but with both of us being out at work all day and having busy social calendars, we were often tired or just didn’t have time. Since spending more time at home together, we’ve been exploring things in the bedroom. Our friends joke that we seem like young lovers in the honeymoon period. We’re definitely closer than ever, and it almost seems a shame when we have to say goodbye for work.
If you’ve struggled with lockdown, Mind mental health charity has lots of support