There is no denying the pandemic has turned our lives upside down. When I speak to fellow students and family members, we generally express the same sentiment: “I can’t wait for this all to be over.”
However, on darker days and during more confusing times throughout the last year, it has been difficult to imagine when exactly we will be able to return to normality. A night in the pub, a trip to the cinema, or a holiday abroad all seem like a distant memory.
Just before Christmas, I was walking past Old Moat park on the edge of Withington. I saw two women exercising together and chatting away. I reflected on the moment and started to realise the positives we could take away from ‘Lockdown’ periods.
Here are five things we should aim to bring into the future beyond these current crazy times.
1. Appreciating Nature and Walking:
In Manchester, we are so fortunate to be able to escape the house for an hour and explore some of the beautiful parks across the city. So many of us have been appreciating the greener areas throughout the last few months, enjoying picnics and a few beers (Manchester weather permitting) on the grass or just breathing in some fresh air. I have come to realise I did not always appreciate the green spaces in the city until now. Beyond the pandemic, I think we could all benefit from taking a couple of hours out of our week to roam around parks, find new walking routes, enjoy a coffee outdoors with friends, and escape the fumes of traffic.
2. Supporting Small Businesses:
Lockdown has hit all businesses hard. However, small businesses have particularly suffered under the restraints. Buying a coffee from an independent cafe, ordering a late-night takeaway, or purchasing some earrings from handmade jewellery businesses on Instagram or Etsy are just some of the ways people have been supporting small business owners in Lockdown. We must continue to help these businesses beyond the pandemic period.
3. Exercising More:
With gyms shut right now, many students have been venturing on runs around Manchester, participating in online workout classes, or trying their hand at some yoga. Exercise is such a good way to let off some steam – physically and mentally. After a stressful day of Zoom seminars and lectures, it is important to be able to escape the glare of a computer screen and get moving. Strava is a great way to track progress and record runs, walks and cycles. There are also multiple sports societies to join, which hopefully will get up and running in person once some restrictions are lifted.
4. Cooking and Baking:
More of us have been in the kitchen over lockdown, trying out new dishes and desserts. My Instagram feed is full of cookery videos from MOB Kitchen and What Willy Cook. Getting together with your household and sharing food, or treating yourself to a homemade chocolate brownie in front of Netflix, are always great ways to relax. Hopefully, we can continue to improve our culinary skills when we get back to normal.
5. Taking Time to Yourself, and Checking in with Friends:
Both of these have been crucial to getting through Lockdowns. Doing some online retail therapy, lighting some candles, or putting on a face mask are great ways to wind down after a stressful day. It’s okay to not feel yourself some days and not want to socialise. If you feel it’s what you need, there’s no harm in having a duvet day to yourself. Sending a text to friends or family you haven’t seen for ages is also really important right now. Checking in with people can lift your mood so much. Taking care of our own mental health and our friends is something we should always prioritise – whether we are in the midst of a global pandemic or not.
These are just some of the positive things we can take away from Lockdown. There are many more, even if they do not always seem obvious.
The main thing to remember: this pandemic will not last forever. The gloomy days will pass and we will hopefully be able to enjoy a pint in Friendship’s beer garden soon.