No Regrets After Lockdown
So, as lockdown eases, how are you feeling about the last four months? I am sure that, like me, you are feeling some relief that life is returning to ‘normal’ in some form or other. However, I have recently felt a pang of guilt as I looked back on the past four months.
I felt guilty because I suddenly realised that I hadn’t achieved all the items on my ‘to do’ list. I had promised myself I would learn German so I would be able to converse better on our next trip to Austria. There were big plans to paint the kitchen and sort out those overflowing kitchen cupboards. Finally, I had decided I would finish my book that had been lingering on my desk for six months. And guess what? I did none of the above.
I felt angry at myself for not using my time wisely. I even felt a surge of panic at wasted time that I felt could have been put to better use. For hours I sat regretful and annoyed, wondering where it had all gone wrong.
Having regrets never achieves anything. Living with regrets means we are constantly stuck in the same place and we never move forward. Our head churns over the same feelings, concentrating on what we failed at and we end up feeling even more angry at ourselves.
I think we use the feeling of regret as a form of punishment in some futile way to make ourselves feel better. Of course, it never works. We end up feeling worse as we continue in this cycle of self criticism.
Perhaps it is better if we look at the past four months as a sign of great achievement, whatever we did during that time. Instead of looking at the negatives and the foreign language we never learned, why don’t we look at the positives?
Coping with COVID19 and all the fallout from that, surely was an achievement in itself. Never in my lifetime have I had to deal with such an unusual and trying time and this applies to us all. Surely we should give ourselves a pat on the back for getting through the past few months?
To try help myself come to terms with my feelings of regrets, I decided to write down EXACTLY what I had been doing during lockdown. This simple exercise shocked me as I read through the detailed list of my activities. The hours I had spent on my online business still trying to keep it visible made me realise that I had made good use of my time. Trying to maintain a viable business during a worldwide lockdown is an achievement in itself.
Then I thought about all the extra work I had been doing during lockdown. Helping in my local community distributing social distancing posters in my town, talking to local businesses about how I might help increase their visibility and finally handing our face masks to elderly groups.
Most importantly, I had also cared for my own mother during this time. At 91 years young, she was left feeling very fragile with the shock of lockdown and the fear of contracting the virus. As her only daughter I have had to shop for her, pay her bills and spend time reassuring her, albeit through a glass window. It wasn’t easy at times and I often felt the pressure of not been there for her in person. But we got through it and this week she enjoyed her first trip outside after nineteen weeks of lockdown!
So, how do we cope if we are feeling full of regrets about not using our time better? If you are feeling like that I would suggest the same exercise I used. Write down exactly what you did. You may surprise yourself. Many of us are poor at time management and often underestimate how we spend our time. You may find that if all you did was enough to get you through lockdown was to read your favourite books, then I would say your time was NOT wasted.
Living through a pandemic is hard and to come through the other side is surely success, however you did it! If you would like to learn more about writing to improve mental health then please click here to read a previous blog post I wrote.
And if you are still having regrets at not painting that spare room or not learning how to sew, then why not look at it now? All these dreams we have can still be achieved and you don’t have to be in lockdown in order to fulfil them. Be kind to yourself and remember you did a great job just coping with the pandemic. No one has failed because they didn’t do anything amazing. In fact, I think we should all get a badge of honour saying ‘I survived the pandemic!’ I am joking of course, but you get the idea.
So, if you are coming out of lockdown with regrets, then now is the time to throw them away. Start afresh with your life as you slowly take back control of your freedom. Look at the world and your life with a renewed vigour and don’t forget we are all in this together and we always have been.
Until next time dear friends
Take care and stay safe.