Mid March — on the sixteenth to be specific — we went into lockdown. Now the lockdown in The Netherlands was called ‘an intellectual lockdown’ since we weren’t forced to stay home, but requested to work from home as far as possible. Yes, schools, day care centers, care homes, pubs, restaurants, fitness and sex clubs closed, but we were still allowed to go out, with a lot of restrictions, and we were required to be thinking for ourselves what was sensible actions.
Our company decided that one part of the employees still had to go to work every day — they work in production so can’t work from home — and the office workers were put on a roster. I was planned in too, having to go to the office two days a week, but I came back from London with a ‘cold’, which lasted three weeks, and was much worse than any other cold I ever had (no, I wasn’t tested). By the time I was better, a group of ladies had been ordered to be in the office every day, and there was no need for me to return to the office. Last week Friday was the first day since mid March that I worked in the office, and it was only for the day.
Changing and not changing behaviors
When I started working from home, a couple of things changed. My normal morning routine started an hour because I didn’t have to drive into the office, which means I slept an hour longer. Where this is really nice, I know it will take some getting used to when I have to turn my alarm back an hour. One thing I did wrong until about 2 weeks ago, is not having breakfast. The moment I came downstairs I sat down at my computer and started working, and breakfast was had at about 11am, when I started getting hungry. My tummy protested, which is why I decided it was time to have a regular eating pattern again – breakfast as soon as I come downstairs, and something light for lunch.
One thing that has been a huge positive in the past four months of working from home, is how much I can get done on one day, and how well I can concentrate. When in the office, there are people around you talking, or they come interrupt you to ask something, and that is something I don’t have when working at home.
The first couple of weeks I had difficulty logging off from work, and found myself making ten hour days, instead of the 8.5 hours I should work. I realized if I kept it up I would burn myself up quite quickly, so made a point of logging off at 4pm, and then only log in again the next morning. This has been made much easier about a month ago when I got a company laptop, which I put away when work is done.
I feel like I have pretty much stayed on top of my behaviors, and feel that I have everything under control and quite balanced. I love that I can do all my work from home, and I think one major thing lockdown has taught me is that I don’t have to be in the office to have everything under control. I am thinking about putting in a request to have a 50/50 work week when we return to the office — 50% in the office, and 50% working from home. You see, where others miss the personal contact with colleagues, I am almost ashamed to say I don’t. I actually prefer working alone, and having Microsoft Teams to keep contact is more than enough for me. This is not something I would’ve thought of myself before lockdown.
Thinking about other aspects
The lockdown definitely got me thinking about other aspects of life too. Unfortunately, during the lockdown — not only here but also in other countries — I have seen the best and the worst of and in people. I am sure many others will agree with me that we all react differently to the situation around us.
My mental health has taken a huge dip. This was not only because of the lockdown, although I do think that some things that happened was an indirect consequence of the lockdowns in various countries. By end March I wasn’t only feeling panicked ‘at times’ but also had panic attacks, and by half April they were daily occurrences. Since I always seem to be a slow learner and forget to put myself in the first spot because of always trying to keep everyone around me happy, it took me until deep into June to realize I was the only one who could change things.
I needed to reassess what I was doing. Reassess what was important. Reassess what I want for my future.
The conclusion was that I needed to close some doors, in order for others to open. I realized I had pushed myself far too hard for far too long, and I had been very unkind to myself. I am still in the process of assessing where I want to go and what I want to do, but I already feel more in control than I have for months (and possibly years, if I am really honest). Some doors will be closed forever, and others might be reopened again. Only time will tell how I will handle this, but for now I need to remember to always put myself and my own needs first.
More thinking to do
When I closed some doors, it seemed to not only have freed up some space in my head, but also some of my time. Because of this, I started crocheting, and I am thoroughly enjoying it. My first project is very simple, albeit very big. I am crocheting a plaid (that’s the picture you see above), as this doesn’t require me to read a pattern, but I already have several other things I want to crochet once this is done.
When I am crocheting, my mind is all over the place, thinking a lot about lockdown, about things that had happened, about how it affected me, about my shaky mental health, and how I want to move forward. I still have difficulty finding words for most of it, and just allow the thoughts to go round and round in my head, until the words crystallize and I can put them down on paper.
Until then, I will just keep on changing balls of wool into different projects, and keep doors closed until they are ready to be opened again.
© Rebel’s Notes