COVID-19: hanging on in there

New Zealand is currently in Level 2; this means the threat level is reduced and lockdown restrictions have been eased from what they were in Level 4 and 3.

It’s not quite normal; we have to keep tabs on where we’ve been, practice physical distancing, the number of people who can be in one place together is still limited and I’m still working from home.

However, we can meet up with friends and family, we can give them a hug, we can travel around the country.

We’re due an announcement on Monday as to whether we can go to Level 1; with no new cases for weeks and only one current active case in the whole country, there’s pressure on the Government to lift restrictions even further and get pretty much back to normal.

I feel really lucky. I know other countries are still suffering. New Zealand is handling it well, but my heart breaks when I see what’s happening in the countries where my family and friends are. It’s awful to have to sit back and watch from afar, knowing you can’t do anything to help.

Our Level 4 lockdown seems light years ago and life has snapped back so quickly. Sometimes it feels a little too quick; no time to stop and think and reflect.

I’m enjoying working from home and as much as I want to get back and see my workmates in person, I’ll really miss being at home. I don’t usually spend a huge amount of time in my flat, and it’s been so nice to potter around and nest a bit. I’ve enjoyed spending time alone, and revelled in the uninterrupted silence that’s given me good focus for those work tasks that need a bit more brain power and deep thinking, which I struggle to do in an open plan office.

I’ve enjoyed being in the city during the working day in the last few weeks now that people are out and about more; I love seeing them go about their daily business from my window, and it means although I’ve been alone, I’ve never felt alone.

I’ve loved being able to rearrange my day a bit, and be flexible. I still work the same hours, starting and finishing at pretty much the same time as normal, but can switch up breaks and tasks depending on meetings, my energy levels and the need for some fresh air and exercise. Working in a job primarily implementing change can be difficult, challenging and emotionally draining. 3pm runs around the park have been a life saver.

Taking on the Tales from lockdown writing project has been awesome, but also demanding. It’s time-intensive, emotionally and socially draining, and I’m constantly having to try and juggle all the competing priorities without something suffering, while making sure I’m looking after myself too.

Mentally I’ve not thought I’ve found it too stressful, but I’ve had some physical signs that reminds me that it’s not normal, and there’s no way for me to not be affected by everything. Feeling the urgent need, multiple times a day, to take big, deep breaths because sometimes I feel like I can’t breathe. Feeling tired and sleeping more than normal. Feeling more emotional than I normally would when I’m pre-menstrual.

Being able to get out and about again has been a huge help; the outdoors, doing something different and a break from routine is critical for me.

I only realised on a long weekend away recently that I was in desperate need of a break, a change in scenery and some time to not think about work, home, COVID or anything in between. Sometimes it’s only when you stop that you realise how much of life you’re clinging onto by your fingertips.

A friend said to me last week, “you live your life on a metaphorical ridgeline, don’t you? Constantly teetering along with a huge drop just inches away,” and I laughed.

It’s true, and has been for the last ten years. Normally I’m pretty good at spotting the signs, dialling things in and out as I need to, and trying to engineer my life with the flexibility I need, but let’s face it, COVID-19 isn’t normal.

Sending big hugs to everyone, whether you’re standing firm on the ridge, hanging on by your fingertips or free falling. Please don’t be afraid to ask for support.

We’re all in this together ❤

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