Lockdown Positivity – From Adversity Comes Opportunity

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Lockdown may have given us challenges to overcome but it has also given us the chance to bring about positive changes in our lives and those of our family. Obviously our first priority has been to stay healthy, but for some of us the restrictions have also given us the precious commodity of time. We’ve had to re-shape our lives and get the cogs of our brains turning to think of things to help us survive, thrive and find inspiration at the most unlikely of times.   

We’ve turned our hands to doing things that we didn’t have time for before and that includes learning new skills and flexing our creative muscles. Immersing ourselves in hobbies has proven to be good for our mental health and I know that stripping back two dining chair seats, replacing the webbing and upholstering them has done wonders for my sense of achievement. Whilst that may not be everybody’s idea of fun, there are plenty of other activities that have been keeping idle hands busy.

A little creativity each day can go a long way towards happiness and satisfaction. Google Trends data looks at how popular a topic is over a certain time period and it comes as no surprise that searches surrounding home baking have featured highly recently, with the shortage of flour and baking powder in our supermarkets bearing testament to this. According to a study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology in late 2016, cooking or baking can make people happier, not only due to the therapeutic effect on their own wellbeing at having created something, but also because they know that the end product will be enjoyed by others. 

What we can take from all this is that without lockdown, would we have gone out of our way to discover something new? One thing is certain, it has made us realise that what is important are our relationships with family and friends and that is definitely a positive. 

It is with some amusement that I have seen family members who would never previously have been seen with a paint brush in their hand, or who have never picked up a pair of secateurs before, taking up new pastimes and finding way to stave off boredom and get their creative juices flowing. 

The other benefit of home confinement is the result it has had on balconies, terraces and patios around Gibraltar, now bedecked with plants and flowers. Friends who I never thought of as green fingered have become keen urban gardeners, sowing seeds in pots or window boxes that will eventually provide them with a small crop of fruits and vegetables. Chili peppers and tomatoes are ideal for hot balconies and peas and beans just need something to grow up, like trellis or netting, so as well as being delicious and healthy, gardening can have therapeutic restorative powers on our wellbeing. 

Maybe you’ve found your inner poet or have started to dabble in creative writing. Online video tutorials, courses and resources have come into their own and made learning new skills accessible. Stimulating our brains with mind-boosting activities is important to our mental health because if your mind is not stimulated it could lead to depression. Taking time out to listen to music releases endorphins in our brain and can lift our mood. Something that has helped me through isolation has been listening to podcasts. Although I admit to not having been a dedicated podcast listener before lockdown, I am now hooked on my daily fix that can range from comedy to history or from current affairs to celebrity gossip.  

Surviving family life under lockdown is another challenge for some, and for others it is a hardship not to have their families living with them.  Family life has gone through a major upheaval over the past few months, but it has meant being able to spend more quality time together. Home schooling may not be your forte, but learning about nature or getting crafty with the kids can be educational and fun. When going outside isn’t an option, getting creative by building a den is a simple thing to do and can be easily achieved with a sheet or cloth over a table or some upturned chairs, bedecked with cushions and maybe some fairy lights. We’ve had many a video call with children inside dens where a tea party has been taking place attended by a menagerie of stuffed toys.  

For older family members and friends who are isolating in different locations, connection has been maintained via online games and quizzes.  In fact, we are probably getting in touch more than we ever did. Humans are by nature an incredibly social species so social isolation and staying away from one another has been a tough task to fulfil. 

What we can take from all this is that without lockdown, would we have gone out of our way to discover something new? One thing is certain, it has made us realise that what is important are our relationships with family and friends and that is definitely a positive. 

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