* This post is written by one of our volunteer content creators. *
After beginning self-isolation 9 weeks ago I’m definitely getting cabin-fever. My cat Daisy is a great companion, but I’ve been craving fresh air, green trees, and wide-open spaces. Yesterday I woke up at 5 am so at about 6:30 am, I headed out to my local park to take advantage of the early morning quiet as fewer people were out and about. I’ve thought about going out before, but unfortunately, my local park has been rather busy during the daytime and I have to navigate some narrow pavements to get there, so I haven’t felt comfortable going.
Anyway, as my body had woken me up so early yesterday, I enjoyed the freedom of being to get out into the fresh air and it felt amazing to be out of the house. Just being out in the sunshine before the weather got too hot and being surrounded by beautiful trees and wide-open space was a huge boost to my mental wellbeing. I listened to an audiobook whilst the fresh air and open space washed over me, as I contemplated where to stop and eat my breakfast.
As I wandered through the park, I met a friend walking her dog and so we walked together for short while before settling by a bench for a catch-up. It was a lovely surprise to bump into her, and an hour or so of being face to face with a friend added to the benefits of getting out into the fresh air. As we sat and talked, we watched the view across the river change, as the sun burnt off the slight mist and looked back towards Maldon, a view which has hardly changed over the last 100 years.
I knew getting out of the house would do me good, but I think I’d underestimated just how much I needed to get away from the confines of my house and garden. It really lifted my spirits and felt like such a privilege to be out and enjoying the morning after 9 weeks at home. I know that many people can’t currently go out at all due to their health, but if you are able to go somewhere where you can confidently maintain social distancing, then I’d highly recommend making the effort as it really did do me the world of good.
I don’t know when I’ll next be able to go out, as I’m not usually awake so early and I’m usually ready for bed by early evening, so it may be some time before I’m able to enjoy the peace and space afforded by an early morning outing. But I’ll be able to look back on yesterday morning for some time and appreciate the experience from the safety of home. If you’re not able to get out then I hope these pictures will bring you some pleasure, I know I’ve been enjoying seeing pictures friends have taken over the last two months! Their walks have become my window on the world, giving me the chance to enjoy bluebell filled woods and the beautiful countryside around here without having to venture out.
It was also so wonderful to spend time with a friend in person, rather than via telephone or video chat. I think we are all programmed to seek human contact and being able to spend time with someone in person is incredibly valuable, even more so right now when we are spending so much time apart. Even if you’re not able to get out and about, as the restrictions change, perhaps arrange for a friend or family to come and sit in your garden so you can chat through a window or open door, or maybe they could walk past the front of your house and stop for a quick chat? Just something little that will allow you to engage with others face to face, whilst also providing you with a memory that you can take pleasure in and turn to when the current isolation protocol gets to you.
I hope this blog finds you well and that you’re finding ways to manage in these strange and uncertain times. Personally, I’ve found the last couple of weeks the most difficult and I’ve been working hard on being kind to myself, not expecting too much of myself, and acknowledging that if I’ve managed to keep myself and the cat fed and watered then the day has been a success! This is a new experience for all of us, even those who are used to spending periods of time at home due to illness aren’t used to the rest of the country also being isolated at home. There are many groups and sources of help available at the moment, including local volunteer responses for practical needs and online/telephone support for medical or mental health needs. If you are struggling, please don’t do so alone and reach out to someone; whether it is a family member, friends, or another form of support, no one needs to face any of this alone!
(NOTE - At the time of writing this post, it is not permitted to socialise with other people indoors; but as things change this will hopefully be a way in which those who are isolating can safely spend time with friends and family. Just remember to make note of your local guidelines and only do things which are permitted!)