Returning Label volunteer, Chloë Morgan, shares the important life lessons she has learnt in self-isolation.

Baking, running, writing, drawing… The list goes on. However, if you want to hear about all the new skills you should have learned during lockdown, you’ve come to the wrong place. Because, in reality, we’re in a pandemic. In reality, people are dying. And when people are dying, learning new skills is not at the top of our priorities.

So, rather than me telling you about how I am the next Mary Berry, Mo Farah, J.K. Rowling or Van Gogh – or all three rolled into one (I’m not, sorry guys!) – I’ve come to tell you about the more important things I’ve learned during lockdown…

Let’s start with the ‘P’ word. The word that makes me want to puke at the moment. Productivity. Ugh, pass me a bucket! Something our society has always been obsessed with: who can jam-pack the most into their day?! Yet you’d think this pressure to be productive would stop seeing as we’re in a pandemic, right? Wrong. News outlets have taken this time to try to make us maximise our productivity and, even worse, to promote the problems of not being productive. Double ugh – two buckets, please!

After doing a quick Google, I stumbled across several articles on this putrid P-word, including: ‘Let’s tackle this lockdown with positivity and productivity!’; ‘6 ways to be productive the COVID-19 lockdown’ and ’21 productive things you can do during lockdown’. Now, I’m aware that none of these mean any harm; in fact, their aim is the complete opposite. However, this pressure to be productive is problematic in itself. By reinforcing this idea that we must constantly be productive, it teaches us that we shouldn’t stop even if we need to. It makes us feel guilty for stopping for a lunch break. It makes us feel guilty for taking a ‘sick day’. It makes us feel guilty for being human. How productive!

Nevertheless, during lockdown, I’ve learnt that this P-word isn’t as important or healthy as it’s portrayed to be. Sometimes we need to take a lunch break to eat that jam-packed sandwich without simultaneously staring at our jam-packed to-do list. Sometimes we need to take a sick day because we’re actually sick. And, at ALL times, our health comes before this puke-inducing P-word!

My next lockdown lesson is self-care. And before you think you’ve heard it all before, hear me out. This isn’t where I start yacking on about the importance of drinking water, eating healthily, and exercising. I’m not denying that these are important; however, what’s more important is remembering that self-care looks different for everybody. Do what works best for you and, most importantly, what makes you feel your best. Also, remember that self-care isn’t easy at the moment. With mental health problems on the rise as well as other unprecedented factors, some of us are struggling to take care of ourselves. And that’s okay. It’s expected, in fact. Don’t beat yourself up about it; be gentle with yourself. Self-care is harder than it seems.

Finally, appreciate what’s around you, but, equally, what’s not. I’ve started to appreciate nature more than I did before. It sounds silly, but there’s so much overlooked beauty outside. (And yes, even in Loughborough!) Go for a walk and breathe in the air that is now fresher from less pollution. Notice the peacefulness in the park that would normally be full of kids crying and families fighting. Take in the gorgeous greenery and serene scenery that you once ignored because it was just ‘there’. Appreciate the things that aren’t around you too. The family and friends that you once saw every day, now risking their lives to save ours. Greet them with gratitude. And those who are self-isolating separately. Call; text; video call. Stay connected. And remind your loved ones that you love them.

All in all, self-isolation has taught me to appreciate the little things that once, not very long ago, went unnoticed and underappreciated. To appreciate the people who mean the most, yet I didn’t realise until they were no longer just a walk away. But, most importantly, self-isolation has taught me not to beat myself up for being human; to be kind to myself, and how to be the best version of myself when life returns to normal. And that truly is something beautiful.

Featured image by Frankie Stevens.


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