When I started university, the last thing on my mind was a global pandemic smack bang in the middle of my second academic year. There I said it! And, I think everyone has similar thoughts…
Of course, this uncertain time has sprung on us all very quickly and following the Government’s guidelines of social distancing and self-isolation, I have been at my parents house since the start of lockdown.
Over the last few months have adapted and finished my portfolios from home without face-to-face contact with my lecturers and without uni friends just a walk away, just like many other students around the world.
Whilst it was not what I was expecting, I am trying to look on the brighter sides of things, the positives I can pull out from this uncertain time!
So, I would like to share ten positive things that I have been grateful for over this lockdown period so far.
1. Spending time with my family
Whilst living away in Bristol, I didn’t get to see my family as much. I love living in the city and attending UWE Bristol, but there are times where I just miss a good old cup of tea and chat with my mum! Sometimes I even miss my brother and sister annoying me!
We all work separately during the day, but I really appreciate the time we now sit around the table to eat dinner together. I only have to go to another room to have a cuppa and a natter, and that’s something I didn’t realise I missed so much. It’s a small luxury of living back at home but it’s the little things in life, eh? As well as my mum’s great cooking of course! (and no she didn’t ask me to put that in)
Also, this week we welcomed a new fluffy member to our household! His name is Barney and we have fallen in love with him – he has definitely lifted our spirits and we love his handsome lil face SO much!
2. Appreciating technology
It has been a real struggle not being able to socialise with our family and friends. There’s no argument about that. It’s awful not being able to hug your best friend or let a relative know you love them face-to-face. Two metres apart makes it even more heartbreaking because you just want to run up to them and give them a big old squeeze, but we cant.
However, I am extrememly grateful for the technology like Zoom, Facetime, Whatsapp and social media that allow us to keep in contact and video chat to make them feel a lot closer to us. Now that the guidelines are starting to ease up, hopefully there will be less need to see each other virtually and our bubbles will allow us to be closer to each other!
3. Reflection space
Even though isolation has made our lives somewhat quiet at points, it’s been really good to reflect on what we actually love doing, what we want to achieve and where we are now.
The world felt like it hit a standstill – and technically it did. we had time. Time to breathe, time to think and time to appreciate what we do have around us, rather than obsessing over new trends or the next big thing that we ‘should’ be all in the know about.
4. Support from uni
Even though we were not attending classes physically, UWE Bristol have given us regular updates and support online. We have had zoom calls and lectures online, as well as resources, extensions and tutor sessions.
Even though it was a bit deflating not being able to finish our academic year at uni – at least we were given resources and support to finish. Also the no detriment policy has given lots of students including me a good peace of mind.
UWE Bristol have also made sure they have loads of their activities that would’ve taken place face-to-face online so we could have the experience, just in a different way! I got the chance as a Student Content Coordinator, to host an instagram takeover for ‘Digital Open Days’ talking to prospective students what UWE Bristol had been like for me in first year!
5. My own surroundings
As we are restricted to limited travel and contact, (of course this is always being monitored and eased at appropriate times) I am so grateful I am living in such a beautiful place, surrounded by fields and public footpaths.
I acknowledge that not everyone has access to open spaces like this. It has definitely made me appreciate my home and what I have access to, it has definitely made walks in the exercise hours more of a joy to be surrounded by nature.
6. Learning new skills
With more time on my hands, I have been learning!
Trying to keep myself physically, mentally and creatively active. As well as sorting out loose ends, I have been trying out new things – yoga being my absolute favourite on the list.
7. Time to slow down
Before lockdown, life was busier than ever. Even though this is something I miss, slowing down has been good for my mental health, being able to appreciate everything around me, no matter how small.
Before I feel like we never really stopped to smell the roses because we were so busy trying to get to the next stop, but in lockdown we have been able to give a big metaphorical sniff to what we do have around us!
8. Fresh food
It might sound a strange thing to be grateful for, but slowing down and not rushing around has given me and my family time to cook and create fresh meals. Fewer cheeky takeaways or frozen food, common on the uni shopping list, but now healthier food with family which is tastier fresher.
I have also been doing more baking, and I will be first to admit – I had forgot how much I enjoy it! Not to blow my own trumpet but I am now taking on orders from my friend for banana bread ?
9. Self care and Self Lovin’
This is a huge point. I have been taking much better care of myself. I have given myself time every day to do something I enjoy, something that makes me happy.
Mentally, physically and emotionally I have checked in more. Even though I am very straight forward with how I feel, wearing my heart on my sleeve, I haven’t beaten myself up about feeling low at times – lockdown was a shock to us all! Not seeing family and friends can really put a strain on our emotions and it IS okay if we get frustrated and a bit blue – it just shows we care! But it’s also been strengthening to be able to pick ourselves and others up, to keep going and knowing there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Until recently, I hadn’t seen my boyfriend in three and a half months – but finally I got to see him! It was only two hours but the appreciation I had for that time made me realise how lucky I was to be so used to seeing him before lockdown happened!
Of course, I have lots of other things I am thankful for too, not just things that are within my household. I am so incredibly grateful to the amazing key workers still doing their jobs and keeping us all safe. Without them we couldn’t survive!
Equally I am grateful to see local communities look out for each other! In our village we have a Facebook page and neighbours who are always happy to do little favours like picking things up from shops and pharmacies to those who are vulnerable. I think that it really instills the message that we really have been in this together and that people are home as well as a specific place.
The final community I am grateful for is the online community! Even though some people say that social media is a toxic place, during lockdown I have seen some really positive content and I hope that my content online has also been helping people by being my honest chatty self being realistic with everything going on! I have seen some powerful movements, messages and causes being spread throughout the online community on my screen and it makes me so glad to see that social media can be proven to be GOOD.
Even though some of us haven’t enjoyed these weeks of lockdown, I firmly believe we can look back at it and remind ourselves about the time we all slowed down and pulled together.
It’s a time of both sacrifice and strength and at the moment that’s just how it is, until things get back to ‘normal’ – whatever that is for you.
Part of me thinks that we will never get back to where we were before this pandemic, but I hope that it’s a change for the better – where communities are stronger, we will appreciate others and the world we live in just a little bit more.
To keep up with my honest and chatty posts, follow my instagram @a_little_insight.