Every Thursday people in the UK come to their doors at exactly 8pm, armed with pots and pans. We clap, cheer and make some noise as we thank our NHS workers, which includes everyone from doctors, nurses, paramedics, admin staff, cleaners and porters and everyone inbetween.
What started as a gesture has now become an important weekly event. Whilst always intended as a mark of thanks to the NHS, it has become more than just a clap for carers. It has become a rallying point, a means of social support and even something to look forward to.
As I joined my neighbours on our respective doorsteps last Thursday I noticed a difference in mood from previous weeks. On the first week we came to our doors somewhat awkwardly. On the second week only half of the previous weeks participants were at the door but on the third week everyone was out. Last week the mood was positively party-like, with everyone waving at one another with smiles all round. Any awkwardness had disappeared and there was a tangible relief and happiness at the ability to interact with other people, albeit only for a moment.
Whether we like it or not, the isolation is beginning to bite. We are social beings not designed to be isolated for long periods. I no longer call someone and ask “What are you doing today?” because this only highlights the situation. I also have no substantive answer to that question by return. Saying “not much” or “laying on my bed wishing life was back to normal” seems a downbeat answer, so I avoid the question.
Advice on dealing with the isolation is to plan things and keep to a structure. I have kept to a decent diet and and try to keep myself busy. As someone who lives alone, YouTube and video conferencing platforms are amazing.
With an incredibly short attention span I dip in and out of many activities during the day. As well as regularly checking my work emails I lie down and listen to music, I sleep, I play video games, I record a podcast, I watch YouTube videos by the dozen, I watch Netflix and I read. I enjoy interacting with gamers streaming on twitch and I laugh at the feeling of happiness I find in watering my garlic plants outside because that feels like something to do.
I’m determined to make the most of life once things begin to return to normal. The challenge is to remain upbeat as we will experience restrictions until a vaccine is developed and distributed.