Tuesday 23 March marks one year exactly since the start of the first lockdown in the UK. For many of us, the biggest lesson the pandemic taught us is to count our blessings. We spoke to three Melan women to see what else they learned about living in COVID-19 lockdowns.

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The last 12 months have been challenging to say the least. But it was also a time of valuable self-discovery and relearning the importance of family and survival. One-year on from the Prime Minister’s direction for the nation to stay at home to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, we look back at not one, but three national lockdowns later. However, with the steady roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccinations, it looks like we are finally on the road out of restrictions.

We are thankfully at a place where we can start to look back on 2020. The lockdown has given many of us some hard knocks; there has been loss and grief, missed memories and opportunities.

Many of us have started new hobbies, kick-started fitness goals, found new ways to be innovative, followed new jobs or business ventures, learned about ourselves and spent time discovering the true meaning of family.

Every experience provides a learning opportunity and as challenging as it was, the pandemic and life in lockdown was a big lesson for us all. We spoke to three Melan Magazine women and asked them to share how the pandemic affected them, what they have learned and what changes it has made to their lives.

What the pandemic taught me:


 

Katrina Young | Director of Katrina Young Consulting

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Image credit: Katrina Young

The pandemic has taught me as a mother, the importance of being present and to a certain extent, unschooling and forming better habits and an adaptive lifestyle. Having always made it a priority to spend quality time with children, our previous schedule and routine were on autopilot. Although we transitioned into home-schooling, we still made time for each other daily as well as checking on extended family, friends, and colleagues.

We have never lived through a ‘pandemic’ before and therefore my immediate response to the lockdown was to focus on daily quality time. I observed my children’s habits, behaviour, language for triggers of anxiety, isolation, distress due to the news, the lack of outdoor usual school activities, routines and going to school.

“We have lost loved ones, so I made an emphasis on emotional wellbeing, talking about how we felt at the time…”

We have lost loved ones, so I made an emphasis on emotional wellbeing, talking about how we felt at the time, emotional resilience, and intelligence to the new world that we have to live in. All of this whilst experiencing worry and anxiety myself.

Concerning my business, I transmuted fear to focus on self and professional development to pivot and thrive. I took courses, upskilled and personally developed, read, took part in coding programs, wrote, accredited my educational curriculum, pitched, reflected, crafted a post-pandemic career/business plan, and took to executing.

I launched a technology start-up and applied for and was awarded a place on a JP Morgan and Capital Enterprise Onetech Business Incubator program. I sought to make the most of this time to create opportunities.

 

Martina Witter | Director of Rapha Therapy Services

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Image credit: Martina Witter

Lockdown has consisted of uncertainty, trauma, loss, isolation and periods of boredom due to the plethora of restrictions that have been imposed upon the world. Although I acknowledge that these restrictions were for my safety and preservation, it didn’t make it any easier for me at times.

As a Psychotherapist, it was overwhelming at times as I was ‘healing’ many children and adults that were struggling with workplace stress, loneliness and lack of motivation due to limited opportunities to engage in pleasurable activities. However, I was struggling to accept the restrictions imposed upon me by being identified as someone that required shielding. However, I got through it and was grateful for the good weather we all experienced and felt truly blessed to have a lovely garden as my heart went out to those that had limited green space.

“The plants have been very soothing and calming and I vouch for the reduction in psychological and physical stress.”

Establishing a daily routine enabled me to regain control and focus on those areas of my life that are important to me. Keeping active is important, therefore I introduced regular daily walks and found a fantastic online personal trainer to keep focused and healthy. Each day I have intentionally engaged in activities to boost my wellbeing as I know that dopamine and endorphin kicks were more difficult, so I decided to redefine fun. Fun for me was having a boogie and dancing at home which isn’t really me, but I was desperate, and it did help with rebooting and recharging my batteries. I have also begun to explore my local area and have discovered lovely parks, woods and trails that I just didn’t have time for pre-COVID. I love putting my earphones in and listening to a podcast, music, motivational YouTube message or Christian Sermon.

Finally, as I began to experience enhanced gratitude through journaling, my love of nature developed, and I decided to bring more of the outdoors indoors (inspired by my sister) and bought at least 10 plants, but a few have died. The plants have been very soothing and calming and I vouch for the reduction in psychological and physical stress. Plants have allowed me to bring the spa to my home along with my aromatherapy steam diffuser and lavender oil. I long to return to a spa and switch off from the cares of life but until then I’ll continue to enjoy my self-care routines and continue to keep this machine of mine moving.

 

Jemma Fairclough-Haynes | CEO Orchard Employment Law

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Image credit: Jemma Fairclough-Haynes

During the lockdowns over the last year, I have been fortunate to have a business that fared fairly well. Our clients continued to need us, but they needed us in a different way.

As a business, we had to adapt quickly, keep pace with changing Employment Law such as furlough, understand that clients were being cautious with funds and work from home. We had previously had an element of working from home, but this was different.

“I couldn’t just be focused on business or my child. I had to do both…”

Home-schooling whilst working meant that both myself and staff needed to be flexible. I had to be more organised and more in touch with my child’s emotional needs. I couldn’t just be focused on business or my child. I had to do both and be sensitive to the fact that my staff were doing the same.

I learnt that I could not do it all and that I had to allow some time for myself to avoid burn out. Sometimes that would mean taking an afternoon off, leaving some of the household chores or simply going for a walk. Looking back, I have learnt that processes and organisation are essential but also the importance of being able to cut myself some slack if things don’t always go to plan.


As we come out of lockdown, hopefully for the final time, we urge readers to remember what’s really important in life and not to lose the insights of what we have learned about ourselves, our loved ones and life during the pandemic lockdowns.

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