Are You A Lockdown Loser?

Our choices are stark at present. So is this the perfect time for self-improvement?

Photo by Frame Harirak on Unsplash

Life is very black and white at the moment. Let’s take food as an example.

Not eating junk food is a struggle you live minute by minute if that’s your Achilles heel. If you have an overeating problem or a chocolate-addiction, modern life is your enabler.

You can shop for healthy stuff with the best of intentions and, feeling virtuous, stow it neatly in your fridge and cupboards.

And then, if you live in a town or city, you can choose to totally ignore it, walk or drive five minutes up the road to a convenience store, and buy chocolate/chips/wine/your-choice-of-food-weakness.

Modern life is your enabler.

That option is open to you every waking minute. From 7 am until 11 pm. Your psyche has to be strong enough to wage a constant diet battle.

That’s the usual way of things. In normal times.

It’s little wonder so many of us, unhappy or unfulfilled in our twenty-first century, man-made environments, turn to food or alcohol for comfort or distraction. It’s always there, advertised and beckoning, ready to give us that release of endorphins. We’re anaesthetised and happy. For a few minutes.

But welcome to 2020

Coronavirus has turned the normal world order on its head in every way. At present, it’s pretty much one shopping trip a week. Who wants to risk extra forays outside unless they’re strictly necessary? — and that’s supposing they’re allowed.

So, in theory, if you can resist the temptation for just that one hour a week, that shopping hour, you’ll have no option but to eat healthily. If you don’t buy it, you can’t eat it.

The salad and vegetables you choose in your weekly shop are all you’ll have available to you for the next seven days.

Think about it. The choice is stark.

If you don’t buy it, you can’t eat it.

Surely now is the perfect time to kick that sugar/caffeine/alcohol habit?

Our shrinking choices

Perhaps that idea fills you with fear. Can you contemplate a shopping basket with nothing in it but the healthy options?

Or do you feel that those extra treats are extra-necessary and deserved at the moment?

Our worlds have shrunk. We take our small pleasures where we can. And what we eat and drink are among the few choices or freedoms we have left.

So, how many of us are taking this as an opportunity to turn over a new leaf and make good, healthy choices? How many of us in the developed world, who still have enough money to do a food-shop, will cut out the junk?

And who — hand on heart — will continue to pick up the treats and edible comfort as ‘necessities’ on our permitted shopping trip?

Living through lockdown

Confession time. I fall into the latter category. The Easter chocolate, the evening glass of wine; they lighten my spirits and help me forget what’s going on out there, just for a few minutes a day.

Our worlds have shrunk. We take our small pleasures where we can.

Sadly, since I’m getting even less exercise than usual, I’m no doubt putting on weight.

But just as I’ve stopped checking how the stock market is wiping out my (already meagre) private pension, I’ve also stopped checking the bathroom scales.

I know I’m not alone in this. We’re only human.

And this human frailty is evident in all areas of our life.

We’ve all seen the tweets

You know the ones, declaiming that if we don’t write our novel or learn that language while on lockdown, we never will.

Those tweets tell us that the normal excuse of ‘not enough time’ has been taken from us, and that it’s now or never.

They tell us that Shakespeare produced King Lear, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra during times of plague lockdown.

And that composers are inspired and driven by pandemics.

So if you don’t use this time wisely, you’re basically a loser.

It’s now or never.

But for us mere mortals …

I’m here to defend our right to be human, to be frightened, to fail.

If you can use lockdown time to write your novel, or compose music, or even just conquer your eating addiction and kick your bad habits, that’s fabulous.

Good for you. Well done.

But if you’re frightened, and bored, and trying to work from home with children who are equally bored, then cut yourself some slack.

Human frailty is evident in all areas of our life.

Stop beating yourself up about it.

Try to make good choices and use your time well when you can. But recognise that you should allow yourself to do whatever it takes to get through this scary time.

And if that’s binge-watching Netflix with your hand in a bag of kettle chips, so be it.

Turn over that new leaf when you get your freedom back

Once you’re allowed back out there, embrace your new-found freedom with delight. Then is the time to appreciate your life by throwing out your bad habits and embracing a new you.

For now, concentrate on staying safe. Be kind to yourself and others. That’s what matters in 2020.

That’s all we need to do, day by day.

If we can do that, we’re winning.

Writer, EFL teacher, early Gen Xer. Reader and beach walker. Now happy at home in the NE of England but plotting more travel and adventures in this second half.

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