Squatting with Joe Wicks. Online quizzing. The elusive hunt for a bag of self-raising flour. It seems only yesterday that the UK was plunged into a national lockdown.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he doesn’t want another full lockdown but national measures may need to be tightened and in many areas local lockdowns are already in place.
Throughout lockdown we spoke to people in different situations to find out how they were dealing with life in a pandemic. So what did they learn? And how will they cope with whatever might come in the next few months?
‘I’m staying off social media’
Ella Simms, 28, lives with five housemates in north London. She spoke to us in March about living in a shared house. Having lost all her work at the beginning of lockdown she says she’s better prepared.
I’ve deleted all of my social media. It was just too much. I put on a bit of weight in lockdown and hurt my ankle so couldn’t exercise and my self-esteem was getting down because I was seeing all these perfect people and bodies. So I got rid of all my social media and I just feel more present in the day now.
I lost my work totally at the beginning of lockdown and I missed the furlough scheme by three days. What I really learned is that you have to protect your mental health. I swore quite a lot, but I didn’t cry, I didn’t feel deflated. I know I want to do more work as an actor, working on films and in television. I write every single morning now.
I’ve learned to be patient, I think the number of times that I’ve wanted to complain to my housemates about something and had to bite my tongue – and then you find out that person is really struggling. We also got into a really good habit of cooking together. I’m really more confident now, maybe more than I was at the start of lockdown. I’m ready now.
‘I’ll say yes when people offer help’
Junior Stewart, 45, from Luton, had his third child in February and started a new job in March, but he was made redundant three weeks later and found himself on Universal Credit. He spoke to us in April and says learning to say yes has been vital since then.
If it wasn’t for my faith I would have buckled by now. I’m up at about five o’clock each morning and I pray and that sets my day. So that’s what I will keep doing. One of the things I’ve learned is there are good people out there and I’ve learned not to be too proud. You want to do everything on your own, but if someone says ‘do you want some help?’, just say yes.
The thing I’ve found in lockdown is that I can’t rely on an employer. I had a job, a great job actually, and within three weeks it was gone. It is extremely stressful. I had a wife, who was on maternity leave, a new baby and two children under the age of 10. And I couldn’t rely on the government, they paid me £8.60 per person a week for a family of five.
I signed up for a digital marketing diploma. I couldn’t afford it, I still have no income, so I put it on a credit card. I shouldn’t have done that but now I am am setting up my own online firm.
‘I will write down my worries’
Nick, a father-of-two from Kent, lives with anxiety and in March told us lockdown led to panic attacks. He says he’s found ways to deal with his anxiety now.
At the start of lockdown I’d go to bed with worries and they’d still be there waiting for me when I woke up. Like when you can’t get a song out of your head. Now I keep a notepad by my bed and write down my thoughts.
I’ve learnt that distraction and also talking to people about your anxiety is the best way to deal with it. I’ve been kept busy working from home and I now know when to go to bed, rather than stay up and carry on watching the news. I’ve stopped catastrophising.
I’ve started going out for long bike rides on Sundays with other local dads and taken up tennis. But I’m more optimistic about the future than last time. It might take a year or two, but it will be OK.
‘I will keep painting’
Angela Steatham, from Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant, in Wales, has chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and is “99%” still shielding. She still rarely leaves the house and has had to rethink her entire life.
I can get lost for four or five hours and not even realise the time by just being immersed in my painting. I thought to myself I need to see lockdown as an enforced early retirement. So that’s what I did. I always said when I retired I would move to Wales and start to paint and read again. Well, I was already living in Wales, so I started painting.
In the early stages I was angry and I was bitter I felt powerless and that I had lost my independence as a person. I went from being a strong woman to totally losing my independence and I was struggling. But then I decided I had to change my mentality.
I think now I’ve taken control of my lifestyle. Instead of seeing all the things that have been taken away from me I am trying to focus on the things I’d been granted. The only thing that I really really miss and feel sad about is not being able to see or hug my son. That has been heartbreaking.
‘We dance and take walks’
Single mum Carla Fitzgerald, 29, from Paignton, faced her first pregnancy alone and in self-isolation. While the first few weeks with her son, Troy, were a struggle, she is now enjoying motherhood.
Troy and I listen to the radio, or music, and have a sing-a-long or dance on a regular basis. And we take walks. It’s really good to be out in nature, taking in the surroundings and distancing yourself from the worry of the pandemic.
What I’ve learned from lockdown is to just go with the flow of life, as nothing is guaranteed and everything changes daily. Just check in with yourself every now and then and try your best to think positively, as nothing is permanent. It has given me the opportunity to focus on my own postnatal needs and getting to know my baby and bond at my own pace.
I will try to meet up with other mums to socialise but I’ve always got this constant anxiety about the virus. For now, I’m just making the most of my time I have with my little bundle of joy.
Interviews by Claire Gilbody-Dickerson, Kirstie Brewer and John Harrison