learning to work from home in a pandemic | graduate job

2021, career

Hello!

I’ve not written about the graduate job market or ‘post graduate life’ since I finished my undergraduate degree in 2018, since then I’ve finished a Post-Graduate Certificate in Professional Development Planning, a MSc in Digital Media Production and I actually got a job! Two months after my masters dissertation hand in I’m actually working!

As we’re living in another nationwide lockdown in the UK, my work has been exclusively from home and navigating mentally reassigning my home environment into a work space as well as trying to figure out a new workload is a challenge and a half. I know personally it takes me a little while to adapt to change and figuring all this out virtually is challenging for anyone who’s had to adapt how they work.

There’s a lot to figure out – not only a new group of people and procedures and responsibilities, but doing all this in the place I’ve been spending days and days on the sofa since my dissertation was handed in. It sounds easy enough in theory – all the things you usually have to do without the commute to sit in an office with less than comfy chairs, probably at least one person who annoys you a little bit and where it’s not socially acceptable to wear a blanket  cape when it’s freezing outside. Working from home should be almost fun with the fridge 15 steps away and no one to judge you for it, right?

By now, anyone that’s had to work from home knows it’s so much more than that – for me, my downstairs living room and kitchen area is all open plan. If I really wanted to I could probably dive bomb the sofa from my desk and I have snacks within arms reach basically everywhere. Today I tried working at my make-up vanity upstairs and I found a lovely little cosy nook to sit in, but the bed was two paces away and it was challenging enough getting out of it without the temptation to get back in.

It’s an entirely different mindset that you don’t very often have to get into at home. Being that switched on in an environment that’s usually associated with slowing down and relaxing? It’s why some students are finding online learning so hard – because it’s not their school environment.

I’d like to think it goes without saying that it doesn’t mean I think that offices should be open and kids should be in school, I’m not saying that at all, I’m just saying it’s a difficult transition to figure out.

Starting a new job without being able to meet any of my colleagues properly, separating my work and home environments and sometimes feeling a little lost with no one to turn to is strange, but at the end of it all I’m grateful to have a job – after my undergraduate experience of applying for over a hundred jobs and not getting anything and then worrying about being able to get a job at all when the job market is so minimal in a pandemic, the fact I have any work is lucky and I really do feel lucky to have it.

If anything, the thing I’m finding more difficult than working from home is being ‘switched on’ for 8 hours a day, being awake and functioning at 9am (anxiety ruined my sleep schedule) and navigating not being a student. I’m grateful that I can roll out of bed at 8.45am and start dinner as soon as I finish at 5pm (or lounge on the sofa before I shove something in the oven). Today my fiancé had a day off and I got to pop downstairs for cheek kisses and the occasional cuddle (don’t tell my boss) but it was weird that he had a day off and I was working because that hasn’t happened for about a year?

So my tips from working for home after four days of doing it – stay hydrated, have a to do list to try and stay focused, plan your lunch because half an hour for a break isn’t actually very long, set an alarm for the end of the day if it helps and today my phone popped up with a thing called ‘focus mode’ and it essentially blocks a bunch of apps during work hours and it’s a little annoying for procrastinating but good for not procrastinating.

And at the end of the day, we’re not working from home – we’re at home, trying to work in a pandemic and that’s not the same.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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Have yourself a Tier 4 Christmas…

2020, christmas, current affairs

Hello!

After a post about how we’re all facing a different Christmas, the British Government went ahead and put another spanner in the works with six days until Christmas!

I don’t think I can explain the whole tier system to anyone who doesn’t live in the UK, but to summarise; after announcing a relaxation of COVID restrictions for a five day period over Christmas meaning many people could at least see some of their family over the festive period then they announced that many areas in the South East and East Midlands would be going into a new Tier 4, which has the same rules as the national lockdown but on a local level. The relaxed rules now only take place on Christmas Day itself and Tier 4 zones don’t get the relaxed rules and millions of peoples Christmas plans have been completely obliterated with less than a week to go.

From my perspective, most of us that are now in Tier 4 aren’t angry or upset because we don’t think the tier is necessary (I think the lockdown is necessary), but the government’s constant reassuring that we would all be allowed a break over Christmas and then doing a complete 180 so close to the big day. I’m not good at change – we’d just finished planning spending a COVID safe Christmas with our friends and then I was going to see my mum and my sister whilst my fiancé is back at work.

Now we’re having a Christmas just the two of us – which is fine, just unexpected – I can’t go see my family and I’ll be on my own whilst my fiancé still has to go to work in Tier 4 zones because broadcasting sport is so important that my TV engineer boy is now classed as a ‘key worker’ (I feel ridiculous even typing it, it makes me so angry).

When I figured out all the news (which took me too longer of scrolling through articles that were very vague), I was gutted. It was the first time I think I’ve cried over the pandemic. And like I said, not because I don’t think it’s necessary, but just because it came after reassurance it wouldn’t happen then it got worse. The little bit of light I had at not being on my own over Christmas and now I feel extra lonely. I can’t put it into words – it’s fine, I spent time on my own last Christmas and it was quite nice to decompress and take everything, sort everything out and tidy up but for some reason this year the thought of being on my own is terrifying.

Christmas Day will be a case of video calling lots of family, playing with presents like children and probably playing video games with everyone else who can’t see family (we’re knee deep in Among Us at the moment!). It’ll be nice to have time with my partner just us and cooking our own dinner and having our own day, but he’s back at work on the 26th so I’m going to have to plan my day so I don’t get too lonely.

Even though Tier 4 and the limited relaxation over Christmas is so necessary, it doesn’t mean I have to enjoy it. I’m grateful for my health, my house, my partners work, but I’m still gutted I’m not going to see any of my family and friends over Christmas and give them their presents. I really hope the government can figure out what they’re actually doing and figure out whether they’re trying to save the people or the economy and stick with it.

I’ve mentioned a few times that I’m cautious of putting too much hope on 2021 – I saw someone tweeting about how we’ve all said 2020 is the worst because we’ve been living in this for 9 months but there’s the potential that we’ll be living through all this for 12 months in 2021. We can hope for the best but simultaneously expect the worst.

Whatever tier you’re in or whatever the rules are wherever you are in the world, I hope you have a safe and happy Christmas if you celebrate it! There will be a bonus blog post on Christmas Day, but otherwise I’ll post again next week!

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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a different Christmas

2020

Hello!

With the ongoing pandemic and an astonishing amount of people that seem to find it impossible to remember the face mask goes over your nose (if they wear one at all), this Christmas is going to be looking very different.

In the UK, the government have assigned a window where three households can gather over the Christmas period (as if the virus knows it’s Christmas? And I’m sure many people will question what the difference is between 3 households and 6 but that’s none of my business) but a lot of places are still in surprisingly high risk tiers and personally, I won’t be travelling to see my family.

This year was meant to be one of those big Christmas’s where all the family gather at my mum’s house and there’s 15+ people all crammed around the table extension she made with my granddad a few years ago and although unsaid, I think we all decided that it’s worth waiting till we can all get together safely.

So this year, we’re having friendmas – a couple that my fiancé works with and we’re very close with are staying in the area over the festive period and we’ve decided we’re going to have a grown up friendmas and cook together, play silly games and eat all the festive treats. I don’t know why it feels so ‘grown up’, but I’m surprisingly excited about it considering how much of a family orientated Christmas person I am.

It’s finding the positives – being able to sleep in our own bed on Christmas Eve, only having to drive for 10 minutes up the road and not one to two hours to either of our parents, having food on the table, loved ones to spend Christmas with; we have a lot to be grateful for, even if my fiancé is straight back to work on Boxing Day and over the New Year.

2020 has been a rollercoaster ride; we’re living through history. I grew up doing projects about my grandma in World War 2, so to think that my grandchildren might be asking me what it was like to live in a pandemic and knowing that ‘doing my part’ is significantly less life threatening than living through a war, it reminds me how much I have to be grateful for and how much I still have achieved this year.

We have to be optimistic for 2021, because other than perhaps a world war, it can’t get much more bleak than this. There’s always a silver lining – pinning all our hopes on a New Year being better is a lot of pressure to potentially set up for disappointment, but there’s always things to be grateful for.

I have the love of my life to spend Christmas with, I have a warm house and food in the fridge, I have family at the end of the phone and great friends to pull crackers with on Christmas Day. Sometimes it’s hard to find the positives, but they are always there.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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giving up on my 2020 goals

2020, goals

Hello!

Today’s blog post was going to be all about setting some goals for the ‘home stretch’ of 2020 and prioritising what’s important for me to work on at this end of 2020 (inspired by Hannah Witton and her yearly series!) but when I sat down to write it, I couldn’t think of anything that I wanted to pressure myself into doing by the end of the year.

I looked back at the 2020 goals I set myself in January and I actually made surprisingly good progress on the ones I could – out of 18 total goals in different categories, seven (and a half) of them are making really good progress. But many of them have been impossible with the pandemic – travelling, getting a tattoo, finding a fitness class; all these things were not a financial or a health priority in a pandemic so many of my goals have been written off.

I think I say this regularly in my monthly goals posts but it’s important to remember that setting goals takes practice – I’ve been regularly goal setting for three or four years now and I still find myself making plans that are too broad or too big or too general.

I’ve already started planning my 2021 goals (I had a moment of inspiration a couple of months ago and basically wrote them all, I’ll be honest) and I can see where I’m going to need to be more specific and where I’m setting more realistic and achievable goals. But as we learnt this year – the world can flip upside down and we can be in our second lockdown of the year in the middle of a pandemic! Being adaptable is so important in goal setting otherwise you may keep working towards something you don’t actually want.

So I’m not working on many of my goals now – some things like learning website design, film photography and listening to more new music I’ve realised just aren’t what I want to do anymore, even though at one point I did. Savings goals are put on hold because I realised fairly early on that I couldn’t save when I had no income (sounds dumb, but I’m very stubborn) and I need to prioritise making myself financially secure in the present before I can start thinking of the future. And goals like a fitness routine and a new tattoo were unnecessary trips to public places to spend money I don’t have.

And not achieving these goals are okay – it’s not like I still desperately want them and I didn’t work hard enough to make it work; things change, I’ve recognised that change within myself and I’m responding to it.

If anything, my home stretch goals are to focus on my mental health and allow myself to relax – now I’ve finished my masters, I am back to job hunting (holding back the 2018 flashbacks) but I’m taking it slow, putting more time into the jobs I am applying for and really trying to listen to my body and what it needs.

I’ve been using a scheduling app called ‘tiimo’ that I saw on tiktok (I know, who have I become?) and it’s a way of planning out your day with reminders and cute emoji icons, but it’s not in your face about productivity – I set a schedule, I get reminders, but it congratulates me on doing things even if I haven’t done them! I consider it a gentle guide to try and give my day some structure and it’s helped me with waking up earlier, not feeling overwhelmed by my to do list, actually getting the things I want to do done and feeling satisfied that I can relax at the end of the day! I wanted to do NaNoWriMo this month (a 50,000 word writing challenge in 30 days) and because my extended dissertation deadline was on the 5th, I didn’t pressure myself to write at all, but on the 7th I started. On the 12th as I write this, I’ve written nearly 15,000 words and I’m nearly caught up to the daily word target.

This year has been a bloody rollercoaster and everyone’s got their own hardships as to why it’s been so difficult, but making sure we are flexible and adapt with our goals means we can still achieve what we want to achieve, rather than working towards things that don’t mean anything.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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life after my masters degree (in a pandemic…)

2020, lifestyle, student

Hello!

I think this might be the first time I’ve intentionally taken a month off blogging since I started in 2014! With my masters degree dissertation deadline looming and the dire state of my mental health (that I feel like I’ve mentioned too many times) I decided to take the pressure off just a little bit by not making myself feel I had to upload for a little bit.

I thought it would be a more difficult habit to break but in all honesty, it was nice to have a break! I’ve come back now excited to write again because I love blogging so much and I’m so ready to get back to what ‘normal life’ feels like for me.

So I finished my masters! I took a one week extension on my deadline because my stress levels were making me physically ill (lol) and it ended up that everything fell on November 5th – my dissertation deadline, a second national lockdown in the UK and my fiancé and I celebrated out 5th anniversary! I cannot believe it’s been five years but it also started the countdown of 2 years till we get married which is exciting. Our wedding contract confirmation from our venue came through the letterbox on that day too which felt very significant!

I spent most of the day formatting and double checking my essay and waiting for massive media files to upload so we didn’t get to celebrate too much, but we ordered Chinese just like we did on our first date and the next day we spent two hours together building Lego Hedwig which he’d picked up for 99p in Game a few weeks ago (it retails at £35!) which had mechanical flapping wings!

It may have come with a very simple instruction book that was over 100 pages long but we felt much cleverer than we are to have made something out of Lego that moves!

It was a great way to start life after masters. In the few days it’s been I’ve mostly been playing the new Pokemon Sword DLC The Crown Tundra with my Pokemon obsessed fiancé and doing all the little bits and bobs round the house I’ve been ignoring to give my little mental energy to my degree. The house is tidier than it’s been for months, everything is clean and I feel refreshed despite it being grey and rainy outside (though I’m loving snuggling up with my blankets inside).

Looking ahead, I don’t know what’s next. If the world wasn’t in a pandemic, I’d definitely be looking to get a job as soon as possible but 1) I imagine a lot of companies that would usually hire graduates aren’t hiring because they have to prioritise paying the staff they have and 2) I’m exhausted from this year. Finishing a dissertation in any situation is a huge mental and emotional toll but doing it when the world is upside down, the US election was taking days and my fiancé is still driving all around the country in high risk zones for work, I’m absolutely shattered and need to take this time to be gentle with myself.

Whilst I’m still recovering and trying to figure my body out, I don’t know what the future holds, which probably doesn’t help my mental health but I need to rest – this year has had a toll on everyone and everyone is handling it in their own way, I just need to find mine.

I am still looking for jobs, because I can’t rely on my fiancé’s income to pay for everything, we have a wedding to save for and I want to start my career! Most of the people I finished my undergrad degree with are two years into their careers and I feel like I’m a little late to finding my footing in the professional world (not that I am, there’s no one timeline). But I’m not going to spend all day every day looking for jobs when I know what a negative toll so many rejection emails had on me two years ago.

So right now? Life is very slow, I’m focusing on making myself a routine and taking care of myself because I’ve been ill for nearly three months now and I have to change something, because I never want to feel like this again.

I don’t know when I’ll get my degree results, I don’t even know if I’ll still be able to attend graduation in 2021 with the state of the pandemic, but I’m grateful to have finished my degree, I’m grateful to have a roof over my head and a partner who makes me feel like a million bucks, I’m grateful to have friends and family to turn to when I feel lonely and I’m grateful to have my health, whatever state it’s in, in a world where nothing is certain anymore.

Things are scary and uncertain, but the year is almost up, I’m seeing Christmas joy everywhere I look and there is hope for the future with the new President-Elect of the US – things will get better, just one step at a time, no matter how small.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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mental health in a pandemic – 6 months on

2020, mental health

Hello!

Writing about mental health is always incredibly subjective – there’s such a broad spectrum of symptoms and each person who lives with mental illness handles it in incredibly different ways that often contradict each other, so bear in mind that when I write about mental health I’m writing about my experiences of mental health and cannot speak on behalf of anyone else.

Lockdown has been a ride, hasn’t it? In the UK more and more places are going into local lockdown, thousands of new cases are being diagnosed every day and ‘young people’ are getting the blame for eating out to help out, going back to work and supporting the economy. Amongst so much uncertainty, it’s not surprise that the anxiety that craves control is going haywire.

At the beginning of lockdown, personally I flourished – all of my uni assignments got pushed back and adjusted so I had plenty of time to work on them, my boyfriend was home from work for the longest time since he started and I felt so in control of everything that was going on.

Then the first ‘three weeks’ of lockdown turned into months, I had less assignments to work on and the ones that were left feel big and intimidating and overwhelming, my boyfriend being home meant that he just played video games all day and gazing out the window felt too much like wishing for a life we couldn’t have anymore.

Normal has changed. The uncertainty of not knowing what ‘normal’ is anymore is the worst feeling. And we have no idea how life could ever get back to a ‘normal’ where we don’t wear masks and we don’t sanitise at every opportunity and glare at people who don’t understand the concept of 2m apart or following arrows on the floor in public places, especially in a world where there are people who ‘don’t believe’ in vaccines (which will never cease to baffle me); ‘normal’ feels like a very far away concept.

On the surface, I’m doing okay – my boyfriend (fiancé? He’s put a ring on it now so I should really get used to calling him that) has gone back to work and whilst at first I was nervous to be on my own, I now make the most of being as productive as I can whilst I don’t have the background noise of video game commentary and too many 5 minute crafts videos (he has an obsession). But underneath, I’ve been getting these ‘nausea attacks’ (I don’t know how else to describe them) and there’s this tight feeling in my stomach and I don’t know if it’s anxiety or a bug or a new intolerance and it keeps me up at night and wakes me up at ridiculous times in the morning. I’ve had more panic attacks in these moments in the last few weeks than I’ve ever experienced in such a short time frame before and it’s really hard, to be honest.

But assuming it is subconscious anxiety and not anything physical, I’m doing all I can to keep my mind occupied – I’ve been listening to a lot of instrumental music to fill in the silence without distracting me from whatever I need to be focusing on, I’ve been making more of an effort to meditate using the Headspace app and trying to make a sense of routine with my daily to do lists and regular meal times.

With no end in sight to this pandemic and a looming second wave in the UK, coping mechanisms are always changing and however much it goes against everything I know, we just have to ride the wave. The waves are going to wash over us anyway, resisting them won’t change the tide.

Well that was potentially a bit deep for a random Tuesday in September, but I’m a bit pretentious like that – I love a water related motivational quote!

Whether or not you suffer with mental illness, living through a pandemic that has touched every single one of our lives was never going to be easy. I hope that you are feeling okay, because okay is enough! It’s okay not to be okay, but it’s okay to just be okay too.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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using my bullet journal to create routine

2020, mental health, organisation

Hello!

I’ve been writing about my bullet journal for a long time now – flip throughs, monthly set ups, weekly spreads, why everyone should bullet journal etc etc… but you’d think in a pandemic lockdown I wouldn’t put an effort into maintaining it, right? My uni is closed, I have no deadlines to meet for anything (pretend the dissertation isn’t real…), no social plans, so why am I holding my bullet journal closer than ever?

Do I sound like a melodramatic Buzzfeed article or what?

I’m someone who craves routine – the longer lockdown goes on the more lost I feel because it gets more difficult to motivate myself to maintain a consistent routine, but that’s where the bullet journal comes in! Having a to do list every day and a meal plan every week gives each day just a little bit of structure.

I’ve not been waking up consistently at all (this morning I woke up at 7.30am, then fell asleep until 10.20am – I’ve not slept that late since I was a teenager!) but I have lunch at 12, start cooking dinner about 5.30 to eat at 6 and aim to go to bed at 9… sometimes I don’t notice the time but generally I’m in bed by 10 at the latest! (I’m a granny, I need my sleep!)

My to do lists generally have 6-7 things on them every day and include things like washing my hair (because ya gal cannot keep track of the last time I washed my hair), doing my daily Headspace meditation and recording a clip for my 1 Second Everyday video – that’s three things already! Then I have 4 other tasks that generally include a form of exercise (I know! Who even am I anymore), something uni related, something craft related and then whatever else needs doing whether it’s cleaning the house or going to a pub quiz!

The system works pretty well for me most days – sometimes I get everything done by lunch time and I’ll either start the next day’s tasks or have the afternoon off, sometimes when my brain’s not doing so well tasks will start to pile up but after a day or two of feeling low I’m getting better at recognising that I don’t want to do that any more and just tackling one task at a time (then writing them off at the end of the week because no one needs to start the week with a bucket load of tasks from the week before – reassign them to the new week!).

Sometimes if I’m feeling particularly unmotivated I’ll even set myself a properly timed schedule – this can be super helpful with bigger tasks because then I know I only have to work on them for a set amount of time then I’m done with it for the day. Even setting a timer so you get that proper sense of conclusion is great. I used our Alexa to set a one hour timer to do uni work, then my sister called so I paused it and when it resumed I carried on where I left off and after an hour I’d made really good progress and I felt really good about myself!

Obviously there are some days where the thought of even sitting at my desk is too much, but it’s working with your mindset and your emotions to make this time work best for you. We all have good days and bad days, especially when you’ve got mental health in the mix as well, but it’s listening to your own mindset and pushing yourself where you can. It’s all a balance!

I’ve been using the phrase ‘gentle productivity’ for a couple of weeks now and I really like it – lockdown is a breeding ground for bad mental health and being gentle on yourself (whether it’s giving yourself a break or pushing yourself back to your desk) is the key to having a bit of routine and normalcy and protecting your mental space.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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aspects of ‘normal’

2020, lifestyle

Hello!

Having been on a little family holiday with my Dad last week, visiting local attractions like my favourite indie bookstore (book haul post here), a manmade reservoir which is beautiful on a sunny day (not when it’s raining and half shut down, but the cafe was lovely) and browsing round all the little shops in the town, I let myself get too settled in what could be considered ‘normal life’.

‘Normal’ as we knew it before the pandemic didn’t include using different hand sanitisers in every shop we went into, wearing a mask and mastering breathing without fogging up my glasses (which is not an excuse not to wear a mask!) and having to try and count how many customers were in the shop before we went in. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining about any of this. In fact, I think the town we visited on our holiday was incredibly well prepared and respectful considering all the conditions. What I’m saying is that despite all these additional measures, it didn’t really have any impact on my shopping experience and it wasn’t difficult to adapt to in any way; it still felt normal.

My weekly Asda trip still makes me cross because an announcement comes over the tannoy to ‘stay 2m away from staff and follow the arrows in a one way system’ to then have three members of staff within a foot of each other (and me) having a natter with no PPE walking the wrong way down the pasta aisle! Most of the town I live in appears to be the same which is frustrating. But some of the shops have precautions and screens at checkouts and I feel way more comfortable nipping into town for anything I need (which isn’t much because I’m on a spending ban so if anyone wants to hold me accountable for that please feel free).

Now that we’re allowed to go see friends and family and businesses are doing everything they can to encourage custom and lots of entertainment streams are doing everything they can to stay alive (theatres are planning to open again in 2021 and I’m eyeballing tickets for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella…), it’s easy to forget that we’re still at a Level 3 of 5 on the government’s scale of the UK’s position on the pandemic – it’s still a very real and literal threat!

I think it’s ridiculous that shops are opening, let alone theme parks and zoos, but I somewhat relied on human sensibility in that it doesn’t matter if places open if people aren’t going to use them.

But then people used them. People flocked to Disneyland and pubs and are boarding planes to get their summer tan and I lose all my faith in humanity all over again. This virus isn’t just about our personal safety, it’s about considering the danger we pose as individuals to those who don’t have the immune system to survive an illness like this. It baffles me how anyone can be so ignorant and self-centred to think that wearing a mask is about ‘taking their freedom away’ (what freedom? It’s allowing you to do the things you want to do without being a risk to other people’s lives??). It makes me angry so I have to think about something else because my anger is never going to convince these people that we can’t take the mindset that we’re going to combat this virus as individuals.

This definitely isn’t what I intended to write about today. My favourite blog posts to write are the ones where I just ramble and the words come out of my quickly typing fingers before I can really process it (which is why I also thoroughly proofread all my blog posts).

I keep thinking about what I would be doing now if we weren’t in lockdown; I know I’m craving some sort of change but I don’t know what because in ‘normal’ life I’d probably be doing much the same, staying at home trying to convince myself to work on my dissertation project and struggling, but my partner would still be away at work and I’d still be able to go procrastinate with my friends on campus with an array of snacks. Maybe I’d be a bit further along with my diss project, because I’d have the facilities, the support of my lecturers and the motivation from my friends but I don’t know how much would really be that different.

This week I’ve arranged to view a wedding venue with my partner. It’s the first real step in planning our wedding, which is still over two years away, but I know that when we get there it’ll be masks on, much of the venue may be closed off and that lingering sense of uncertainty that we’ll be able to have 80 guests in one place in 841 days time.

‘Normal’ may be on its way back, but I don’t want to let myself get too comfortable with it whilst we’re still at Level 3. I can only hope that there isn’t a second wave and we’re really on our way out of this pandemic.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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going on a British holiday in lockdown?

2020, lifestyle, travel

Hello!

Four months into lockdown, a lot of people are talking about the summer holidays they’ve had to cancel, optimism about still being able to get abroad and choosing UK based alternative like it’s a second rate option to flying away somewhere.

Granted, you’re not going to get 40 degree sunshine and sandy beaches but as a girl who grew up going to the Peak District and feeling inferior to my friend’s holidays abroad, I’m trying to remind myself that there are so many parts of the UK that I haven’t seen and the weather doesn’t make it any less exciting! Just different.

Next week my boyfriend and I are going away with my dad – he lives alone so it’s all legal within the social bubble thing. We were going to go to the same place we always used to go in the Peak District because I’m so fond of it and I’m desperate to show my favourite person one of my favourite places. But then there was a whole palaver with the website my dad booked it through accepting the booking when the holiday site wasn’t actually open and trying to rearrange around my boyfriend’s work but then we found a little cottage that was available and now the holiday is back on!

I do feel a bit weird about going on holiday in a pandemic – it’s all legal, we’ve double triple checked, but I’ve only just braved going to the unessential shops two weeks after they opened and however important I know wearing a mask is, having to wonder round without my glasses on because they keep fogging up is equal parts annoying and really funny.

Obviously we’re going to be as safe as we can be – making sure we have masks and antibacterial gel and we’ll make sure everywhere we want to go is safe and stay socially distanced… but it just feels weird.

I’m so excited to see my dad and spend some time with him knowing he hasn’t seen anyone properly in months. I’m going to see my mum and sister as well for the first time in four months and it’s going to be so nice but so surreal to know I’ll be driving home again next weekend and I have no idea when I’ll next see them.

Lockdown conditions are easing and hopefully the rest of the country is being more careful than the people in my area (they make me so cross and every time I go for a walk or to Asda it baffles me how people can’t seem to understand arrows?) and things will continue to ease as we control this virus but it will definitely be a very strange experience going on holiday this time.

To anyone feeling like they have to ‘compromise’ on a British holiday instead of an international one this year – keep your mind open, although at times it doesn’t feel like it, we do actually live in a beautiful country and there’s lots of amazing places to see.

Also stop using the phrase ‘Staycation’ – just because you’re not leaving the country doesn’t mean it doesn’t count as a holiday.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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bad mental health in quarantine

2020, mental health

Hello,

I know for a fact that I’m not the only one who’s felt their mental health plummet whilst the world has been consumed by this pandemic.

Even within the realm of mental health, I still appreciate that I’m incredibly fortunate to not have to be working, to live in a (mostly) financially stable household, not being isolated alone and to not know anyone who’s suffered with the virus, but that doesn’t make the feelings in my head any less valid.

My boyfriend pointed out near the beginning of lockdown that any ‘setbacks’ in my mental health aren’t a true reflection of my mental health – of course my anxiety’s going to get worse when the whole world is changing, that doesn’t mean I’ve done something to make my anxiety worse or had a step back in my ‘journey’, it’s just a natural response.

Managing it has been difficult – the longer we’re restricted, the harder I find it to motivate myself to do anything. At the beginning I flourished on actually having time to do all the work I needed to do and now I’m down to my last deadline before my dissertation project, I should be super motivated to get the last one done, right?

But I’ve not been taught anything I need to do to finish this assignment, the longer we’re in quarantine the less point I can see in doing anything and the more my anxiety makes me feel like I’m trying to walk through water just to do anything… And suddenly it’s three days to hand in and I have a mountain to climb to finish and it’s even worse!

Uni work aside, I’m a very self aware person – I can look almost objectively and my ‘symptoms’ (though it feels weird to call them that) and I know I need to do X, Y and Z to feel better. Objectively, that seems simple enough. In practice? It’s really hard to implement.

For example, I know that the easiest way for me to get anything done (from uni work to the washing up) is to take out every element of decision making that I can – making to do lists, deciding what order I’m going to do the things on the list and even scheduling every hour of my day are all things I’ve done before to help me work. However, the ‘ill’ part of my brain (again, feels weird to use that terminology) makes me feel like I don’t have enough processing power in my brain to actually do anything and reminds me that my self-set schedule doesn’t have any consequences… No one’s going to tell me off for not doing a workout first thing in the morning, nothing will happen if I don’t do my self-set writing challenge, the only ‘consequence’ to anything in my life at the moment is my uni work…

But even then the whole course has been a mess and if I don’t hand in I’ll fail one assignment in one unit and do badly on the module and it’ll bring down my overall grade but… what impact will that really have on my life?

Obviously I’m really trying not to have this approach and I want to do as well in my masters as I can… but the point still stands, consequences are minimal! Which obviously really doesn’t help with the whole mental health malarky.

I’ve tried making the most of schedules and lists – I’ve made a morning routine list, I’ve got my daily to do lists, an evening routine list, a list of creative things to do in quarantine if I find myself with nothing to do (slash… procrastinating…). It’s got past the point of helping though.

I wish I could say I’ve found this amazing cure all that’s going to help everyone struggling with their mental health as if everyone experiences mental health issues in the same way… But I haven’t (and that’s obviously not how mental illness works). At this point, I’m just trying to get through this last deadline I’ve got for uni and then trying to take each day as it comes.

On Friday (22nd May), my boyfriend and I will have been in isolation for 10 weeks, leaving the house once a week for food shopping and occasionally going for walks (but the people in our area don’t seem to be familiar with the concept of social distancing and that really helps my anxiety…). We’re finding new areas to walk in and there’s a woods not too far from our house where everyone is really considerate and kind. We’re trying to make the effort to walk every day because it’s good for both of us both from an exercise and mental point of view.

No one knows how much longer lockdown is going to go on for – if people keep disregarding social distancing rules, then it’ll go on for longer, if cases continue to go down then things might be allowed to start reopening soon. There’s no way to put a date on when things might be able to start going back to normal.

But we all have to prioritise what’s best for us – trying to listen to our own needs as much as possible; taking things slow and stepping back or even keeping up a routine and any sense of normalcy. Things are hard but we will get through this – you’ve survived 100% of your bad days and you will make it through this.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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