How I Plan to Emotionally Survive Another Lockdown
Because it’s still better than neglecting responsibility for one another.
As the number of infections continues to grow rapidly, another possible lockdown moves into the focus of political discussion. The first one made me reconnect with nature again. It was an urgently needed reconnection as I wasn’t pleased — to say the least — with the way my final year at university was about to start
I am facing the next possible shutdown with ambiguous feelings. On the one hand, I dread to miss out on meeting up with friends and colleagues. On the other hand, however, I became accustomed to study and work from home. Still, with everything going on, it is better to have an emergency plan prepared — you know, just in case.
Here’s how I plan to manage my emotional wellbeing during a second potential shutdown.
1. Avoiding social media discussions completely
Having lived with Instagram blocked on my phone for a couple of months, it has been a devastating return. Beneath pretty much every picture, conspiracy theories were spread by people, acting like Moses, who just received the ten Commandments. People who are willfully blind towards the two challenges of Covid-19 and climate change should be listed as the third one.
I don’t believe that many people are falling for such conspiracy nonsense, yet it still feels like it when I go on social media. Conspiracy theories and their preachers are simply too loud on there. When exposed to too much human ignorance, one is prone to develop a phenomenon called “Weltschmerz”. It was characterized by a german author called Jean Paul and was later described as the feeling of the world’s inadequacy.
Feeling devastated about humanity’s current state isn’t helpful. Especially if it is not even objectively reasonably justified. Of course, we are facing unimaginable challenges. Challenges of such an extent that many people are escaping into their own little theoretical conspiracy theories. These theories are soothing because they provide the illusion of control.
But the amount of optimistic, responsible, and loving people far outweighs the wilfully blinds. As long as there is still so much hope for humanity, I don’t want to be bothered by weltschmerz. And I shouldn’t. Avoiding social media comment sections will be my first step in this regard.
2. Diminishing future terror by improving my skillset
Will life ever be the same after this pandemic? Do we even want it to be? We cannot yet fathom how much our lives will have changed post-pandemic. We may face a financial crisis. We may have to help plenty of people get back on their feet — financially as well as mentally.
But we were never able to accurately predict the future. Therefore, it’s not helpful to sit around and dwell on the possible terrors yet to come. Instead, I plan on preparing myself for whatever may become our new normal. Not necessarily because I am looking forward to it, but because it’s the most reasonable thing to do to stay in a healthy place mentally.
“The better ambitions have to do with the development of character and ability, rather than status and power. Status you can lose. You carry character with you wherever you go, and it allows you to prevail against adversity.”
- Jordan B. Peterson
First and foremost, I will be working on my legal skillset and exam preparation. Second I set out to write at least daily. Therefore, improving my ability to bring an argument across, but also because it keeps me sane. Through writing, I can articulate and share the ideas I would normally have shared over lunch with friends at university.
When promoting self-improvement during a pandemic, there is always some pushback involved. I have read people demanding to promote less hustle and more self-care. In this case, however, I believe the two are connected.
The better one is prepared for the future, the less terror this person will face. Improving yourself, therefore, is the most practical way to secure your mental wellbeing. Also, if you are at a sane place mentally, you could support your family and friends, too. Making this pandemic bearable for the ones most important to you.
3. Spending time playing online games with friends
Socializing is crucial if the goal is to keep a sane mind. As I won’t be able to meet up with friends physically, we’ll have to meet up online — whether they want to or not.
However, it’s not only about the social aspect video games bring with them, but also about having something I can look forward to throughout the day. There are studies showing that the more events a person is anticipating, the happier this person will be. During a lockdown, I may not have too many things to look forward to. At least not naturally. So I have to take control of them by planning fun events myself. Equipped with a webcam, a headset, and a set of fun multiplayer games, I will social distance the right way.
But isn’t this message the opposite of what I just mapped out under the previous point?
Because to schedule fun activities, I, first of all, have to schedule at all. While working from home, it can be incredibly tough to decide when to end work for the day. The clear sign of leaving my office is missing. I, therefore, have to set boundaries for myself.
Working towards your goals during this pandemic is crucial for your mental health, but so is the right balance — at least in my case. Scheduling my work and my free time is the first step towards achieving this balance.
4. Working out regularly
Did you also upgrade your home office? A new chair, a better desk, maybe some cute ambient lights? I made my workplace cozy and comfortable.
This, however, makes it easy to forget moving my body when working from home. I am missing out on collectively one hour of walking to university, the office, and back home. While daily walks don’t seem like a big deal for my health, these micro-workouts will quickly add up. Missing out on those, paired with possibly closed gyms, I need to focus on other sources of movement.
More importantly, I have to carve out the time for such activities beforehand. It’s tough to justify to myself a half-hour walk around my neighborhood when I still have work to do. But if I have it scheduled in advance I won’t come up with excuses. Instead, I’ll happily take that walk, bodyweight workout, or — not trying to jinx it — gym session.
Regular workouts will not only improve my health, but they are also crucial for my mental well-being and productivity throughout the day.
5. Taking care of my plants
During the beginning of this pandemic, I started growing my own plants. I was never particularly interested in my local flora, but something about the first lockdown made me appreciate plants a lot more.
I believe it has something to do with the beauty and progress they portray. Whatever it may be, it makes me happy to see these little sprouts grow.
I started with a banana tree and prickly pears. The banana tree already produced two off-springs, while the prickly pears are starting to turn into the magnificent cacti they are destined to become.
If the emotional flood comes at some point during the pandemic, then my plants will be to me, what the ark has been to Noah.
This is my survival guide for a potential second lockdown. As with everything, the third time will probably be the charm — but let’s just hope we don’t need another survival guide.
Also, make sure you reach out to your family and friends. Even if you have to social distance in some instances, it’s important to show your close ones — and even yourself — that we are not alone.