What Matters in Lockdown – and What Doesn’t?

Here are some suggestions about things to focus on in lockdown:

Staying healthy… eat wholesome, fresh food; drink lots of water; respect your body and help it prepare for all the challenges it will inevitably face; get plenty of exercise and get plenty of rest.

Small things… pay attention to the details of what is happening around you, the things that others do and the things that you do… In “normal” times you may not have found you were able to observe things in detail. You may also be able to observe yourself in relation to these details – which perhaps seem small but are possibly of great importance.

Nature… watch the grass, flowers, leaves and blossoms grow; see how they move in the wind; appreciate their colours and transient beauty. Watch the birds, the squirrels, the foxes and observe their daily lives and struggles to survive.

Being kind to others… Look out for your neighbours as well as your friends and relatives. And if you have a falling out with any of them, be the one to make things OK, even if it’s “not your fault”.

Tidying up… if you’ve always meant to clear up your bedroom/office/kitchen/etc but have never had the time… now you very much have the time. It can be therapeutic to tidy up and be surrounded by some sort of order; it also means you can find things – some things that you might not want to find (so get rid of them) and some that you may be delighted to find.

Think about your funeral and your wake… not in a morbid way but in a positive way. It’s another aspect of tidying up… but a really serious one. Make your plans, knowing that they may well change several times yet… but also knowing that you are doing something that will help others deal with your departure when it happens (as it must, one day) and contributing, hopefully, to a celebration of your life.

And some suggestions about things NOT to focus on in lockdown:

Feeling sorry for yourself… it’s a cliché but there are so many people around the world who are suffering, or who have suffered, so much that this is probably a time to be grateful just for being alive.

The past and the future… if ever there was a time for living totally in the present, this must be it. Don’t look back over what might or might not have been – and realise at last that it is impossible to foresee or plan for the future.

Things you don’t have… this is a time for making do, mending, improvising, inventing, managing, seeing the glass half full…

Judging others… it’s too easy to criticise and find fault with neigbours and those around you who may not be coping with the pressures of the current crisis or who may be bending the lockdown rules. The biblical parable about taking the large piece of wood from your own eye before you attempt to remove the speck from your brother’s eye still holds good…

The failures of politicians… It’s a cliché but all political careers end in failure – and many of them are also riddled with failure. But moaning on about the politicians won’t change them or their tendency to mess things up. The other cliché to bear in mind is that you get the government that you deserve…

The news… Yes, it’s useful to be up-to-date with what’s happening. But if you read every scrap of news, day in, day out, there is a danger that you will not only be actually not much the wiser, but you could become depressed as well as confused.

Nigel Summerley

Nigel Summerley retired from The Oldie magazine to return to freelance journalism. He previously held executive staff jobs at the London Evening Standard, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph and the Daily Express before freelancing for 20 years for newspapers including The Times, The Sunday Times, The Independent, The Guardian and the ‘i’ paper, plus a wide range of magazines. He continues to write about music, travel and health, and blogs at www.nigel-summerley.blogspot.com.

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