• Elliott

I'll Never Take Going Outside For Granted Again

"You have been identified as a contact of someone who recently tested positive for COVID-19 so you must stay at home and self-isolate until 22nd of January (including this date).

You must do this even if you do not have symptoms or you get tested and receive a negative result.

It is a legal duty to self-isolate if you are notified by NHS Test and Trace."

...Right then. Better stay at home.

And I have done. I'm in the fortunate position to be able to work fully from home, which - despite my complaints - is obviously a blessing, in these circumstances. Especially under a self-isolation order from Boris Johnson himself... I assume it's the PM sending out the test and trace texts, right?

We've been under "Stay at home" orders, or variations on it, for close to a year now. But there has been a list of exemptions, such as grocery shopping, travelling for essential work, and exercise. These exemptions, along with momentary loosening of restrictions during the Summer, just about got me through 2020 without me wanting to scrape the paint off my walls with my bare nails.

I'm incredibly thankful to be able to say that for the entirety of 2020, the true tragedy of Coronavirus didn't hit myself, my family or any of my immediate social circles. Nationwide blanket enforcements aside, I wasn't required to self-isolate at any point, and I took great solace in the simple ability to be able to leave my flat for some fresh air, to stretch my legs, to think, and for a mere change of scenery. I guess it was only a matter of time before this changed, however, and I was given the above message from NHS Track & Trace.

Now - I am also very grateful to live in a warm, cosy flat with all of my modern conveniences, aforementioned ability to work from home, and enough tins of beans and soup to last a (very, very short) nuclear winter. I could function without needing to leave the house for probably a month, at a push, without having to go out for food. And even then, the kindness of friends could mitigate this problem (shout-out to Georgia and Kizzy) for the most part. But my god is it a struggle.

I'd just got back up to running 5K again, and had been trying to keep at running three times a week. And on the days I didn't run, I'd try to take a short walk at lunch or after work. As mentioned in my The Struggle Has Been Real post, COVID has meant I've had to scale down my expectations and redefine "normal". And a lot of that had involved using simply getting out of the house, in whatever form, as a means of escape.

So, to be given strict self-isolation instructions was a bit of a tough pill to swallow. Obviously I understand the severity of the situation at hand, and of course I obliged. It's not worth the risk of putting people at risk just because I feel like popping to the shop for a Twix and a four pack of Bud if it's highly likely that I'm infectious. But after spending far more time than I would like to at my flat over the past year, an confined period of self-isolation here isn't really ideal. Work has helped actually, as it's kept my mind focused, and it's taken up a significant amount of time where I would be at my desk indoors anyway. And I've tried to keep in touch with people, as I have throughout this difficult year, on Facebook, Instagram, Discord, Zoom, the works. And that's helped, but it's tough. I've ended every day feeling like I've not exerted enough energy. Not felt the wind on my face. Not done anything remarkable - and it all feeds back into the oh-so overused Groundhog Day analogy. Funnily enough, Groundhog Day is coming up in just over a week and it's one of my favourite films of all time, so maybe I'll write something about that soon.

Regardless, I've stuck it out. And today is my independence day. I've just got back from a morning walk, and the Sun was shining. It was cold, but you know what? I like the cold. You soon get warmed up just from moving, and the crisp feeling of the winter air as you step outside wakes you up. And; it reminds you that you're alive and that you are supposed to feel things other than boredom and ambivalence. I feel so...free. I might sound like I'm exaggerating, but the severe lack of genuine, tangible stimuli lately has made me appreciate these simple things all the more.

I plan on going for a long evening walk and talk catch-up on the phone later, and hell, I'll maybe even take a trip to Sainsbury's tomorrow. Just go all out, you know? Absolute nutter.

Please stay safe, appreciate what you have, and enjoy any little deviation from routine that you manage to experience at the moment. It might be the only deviation that we get to experience for a little while.

"Self-Isolation-Portrait", Illustrator


Can't get enough of this topic? Well, I've got some good news for you. I've put together a short list of related articles, videos and other content from around the web that is related to what I've written about. Feel free to click away and take your brain on an adventure.

Nature and mental health - Mind.org.uk

It's official -- spending time outside is good for you - ScienceDaily

5x5 - Your Great Outdoors - Stephen Nangeroni, Vimeo

Two hours a week spent outdoors in nature linked with better health - NewScientist

The Struggle Has Been Real - Commentary Cemetery

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