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A trip to london

Lessons From My First Post-Lockdown Weekend Away

Over the August bank holiday weekend, I took a trip to London. It was a trip I’d had planned since way before COVID-19, and after weighing up the risks and rewards, I decided I still wanted to go. I needed a break and a few days away, but I was quite apprehensive about it. I visit London fairly regularly and know all too well how busy it can get. I was also unsure about all the rules. Being from Wales, our guidance around distancing, masks, etc. is slightly different to the guidance in England. This made me a bit nervous, what if I did something wrong? What if I forgot to put my mask on? What if people got closer to me than 2 metres? Thankfully it was actually really quiet (for London) and none of my worries turned out to be a reality, but I learned a lot from my first trip away post-lockdown, and I want to share some of that with you…

Firstly, I learned to accept that I can’t control other people’s behaviour, in this pandemic, but also in life more generally. I can’t control whether someone else wears a mask, whether they keep their distance, whether they wash their hands, or whether they choose to go out with symptoms. All I can do is focus on myself, doing what I can to keep others safe. Sometimes I have a tendency to resist what other people are doing. I say, “they shouldn’t be doing that” or, “they should be doing this”. That resistance often makes me feel angry, stressed, frustrated. Sometimes it helps to take that step back and remind ourselves that we can’t control what other people choose to do, and focus our energy on what we can control.

Secondly, wearing a face mask is not always easy, but it is an act of kindness, love and compassion. Due to the guidance, I was required to wear a face mask or covering for the bus journey to London and back (3.5 hours each way), everytime I used the Underground, and everytime I went inside a shop. This was quite new to me, I’ve not done much in Wales that requires the use of a mask under our guidance, and I was quite taken aback by how claustrophobic I initially felt wearing it. When I first put it on for that 3.5 hour bus journey, I felt like my breath was restricted and it started to make me feel a bit anxious. I started thinking, “there’s no way I can keep this on for 3.5 hours”. So I decided to try and re-frame that thought. I reassured myself that I was safe and ok, and I found it helpful to remind myself that by wearing the mask I was showing kindness, compassion and love towards myself and others. I was doing my bit to try and keep everyone safe. I noticed that the longer I had it on, the more comfortable I got wearing it. Eventually, I barely noticed it was there. Of course, there are those who are exempt from wearing a face covering, but a lot of people find it difficult, uncomfortable or even anxiety-provoking to wear one. If you’re struggling with anxiety around wearing a mask, you might find this mindfulness practice helpful: https://www.mindful.org/a-mindfulness-practice-for-wearing-a-mask/?utm_content=buffer0f79c&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Lastly, I learned that the world keeps turning. During lockdown, it was easy to think that the whole world had just stopped, and it was sometimes difficult to see how we would recover from such a huge world-changing event. As I was walking through London I stopped on Tower Bridge and looked over at the Tower of London. I thought to myself, “if those walls could talk, what would they say? What stories could they tell?” The Tower of London was originally built in 1078. That Tower has stood through wars, famines, the Great Plague, civil unrest, numerous governments and rulers. And it still stands through COVID-19. The grass and trees around it keep growing, the sun keeps rising and setting behind it, and the world keeps turning. Looking at the Tower, I took huge comfort in knowing that throughout history, when huge world-changing events have happened, humankind has picked itself up, dusted itself off and found new ways of living

As we navigate these ever changing waters, you might find it helpful to reflect on what you’ve learned recently as you’ve started to come out of lockdown. What have you learned about yourself, others and the world around you? What have you learned about your ability to cope with life’s challenges? Has your outlook on life changed? What have you noticed when you’ve been going back out and about again? Just a moment to reflect and take stock.

Wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing, I hope you are well.

By Bethan Jones

Course Wellbeing Practitioner