🕒 3 minute read
For those living in England, we are just over halfway through a second lockdown. Granted, the lockdown isn’t as strict as the first UK-wide lockdown in March of this year, but it still means we’re having to heavily moderate our lifestyles.
Dire economic impact aside, why is it then, having already endured a much longer and tougher lockdown earlier this year, that the second, shorter lockdown is taking such a toll on our wellbeing and resilience?
We’ve been told to work from home and reduce public transport use. Gyms, a lifeline to many are once again closed. Friends and family can’t see each other. People are encouraged to leave the house just once a day for exercise. Travel and spending a night away is once again prohibited. Welcome to life under Lockdown 2.0, however this time, things are different.
In Spring, although what we faced felt draconian to some and like too little too late to others, with long and bright sunshiney days and beautiful weather throughout much of lockdown, we adapted.
We started going on more local walks and experienced the outdoors in miniature by way of our back gardens, with many of us even camping in our gardens to try and relieve the tedium of spending so much time inside and not being allowed to travel.
You’d think then having endured the first full lockdown which started on 23rd March 2020 and lasted some 7 weeks, that second time around, a month-long lockdown with slightly less stringent rules would be a doddle. Wrong.
Although early autumn was glorious, November, certainly up in Cheshire where I live has been dreary, wet and grim. Fair weather for walking has been fleeting but the real mood zapper is the shorter, darker days.
There are fewer opportunities to get outside and benefit from the natural mood enhancement that nature and daylight provides.
By 4pm it’s dark and when many of us are working from home, and most of us don’t finish work until 5 or 6 o’clock, there are fewer opportunities to get outside and benefit from the natural mood enhancement that nature and daylight provides.
For those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), this time of year is always difficult anyway as we struggle to adapt to the gloom, but many of our coping mechanisms, like meeting up with friends, nights out, working out at the gym and weekends away, have been taken from us, leaving us floundering; struggling to find new ways to cope with the double whammy of lockdown and the shorter, darker days.
We’re no longer in this together
Shorter days alone can’t be the reason why lockdown 2.0 feels so much more difficult to endure, rather it’s the fragmentation of the UK that’s making it tougher to get through this time.
The conflicting messages we’re seeing. The confusing different tiers affecting different friends and family members up and down the country. The frustration of doing our weekly shop and seeing so many people selfishly ignoring guidelines on mask use and social distancing.
We were all united in being very British and jolly well getting on with it for the greater good.
First time around, love it or loathe it, clapping on doorsteps, rainbows in windows, daily briefings and our social media streams filled with random acts of kindness and people sharing what they were doing to cope all served to reinforce the understanding that we were all in this together, that we were all united in being very British and jolly well getting on with it for the greater good.
Last time, we felt like we were all in the same boat, and the unity of a shared experience and that camaraderie helped us through.
It feels like what we’re missing out on is only being thrown into sharper relief.
Back in spring no one was off having grand adventures or having fun in the great outdoors because none of us were allowed to. This time however, we have family and friends who live in different parts of the UK talking to us about, or posting their adventures on social media and it feels like what we’re missing out on is only being thrown into sharper relief.
Seeing others enjoying the freedom we’re craving, whilst we’re back under what feels like house arrest, erodes the sense of us all being in this together because this time, we’re not all making the same sacrifices at the same time.
The lack of UK-wide cohesion during this second lockdown
could be one of the reasons why, anecdotally at least, more people appear to be
ignoring the guidelines this time around and having our usual coping mechanisms
removed from us is only making winter bleaker for many.
Consider too the on-going uncertainty surrounding Christmas and whether a lockdown extension or local lockdowns will prevent us seeing our family and friends.
We’ve spent most of the year looking forward to seeing the back of 2020, hopeful that the new year would herald widespread vaccinations and return to normality. Although a Coronavirus vaccination is now looking more hopeful, it’s certainly not a done deal and 2021 looks set to bring us more of the same challenges.
Bearing all of this in mind then, it’s not difficult to understand why this second lockdown is proving more psychologically difficult to get through.
If you’re struggling with your mental health, please reach out to family or friends if you can, and if you can’t, there are charities available to provide support and an understanding ear should you need it.