Positive News

‘Braver than I gave myself credit for’: what Positive News readers learned in lockdown


We asked Positive News readers how you have grown through the hardships of the pandemic. A year on from the first UK lockdown, we share the learnings you are taking forward

During the past year, Covid-19 has inflicted misery on many. It has cut us off from our support networks, curtailed our freedoms, and for some caused devastating loss. The mental health impacts are immense, particularly for those on the frontline of the crisis, while parents have had the added stress of homeschooling – with many trying to work at the same time. 

Yet, while the crisis has taken away so much, it has also given many of us the opportunity to reflect; to break old habits and make new ones; to take better care of ourselves; to make life decisions that didn’t seem possible before the pandemic. Many of us will emerge altered. 

We invited Positive News readers to tell us how, alongside the difficulties, you have grown in positive ways during the crisis. Such was the volume of responses – many of which we found moving – that we couldn’t publish them all, though we read every one. We hope the selection below resonates and inspires your own reflections and insights. 

Embracing boredom

“Boredom leads to beautiful things. I’ve realised that in modern life we’re terrified of being bored and are so used to having entertainment and choice at our fingertips. But boredom leads to true creativity and self reflection. When I stopped trying to busy myself with meaningless tasks in lockdown and instead started to listen to myself and live a day without a plan, that’s where the magic happened.” Laura 

 

Becoming more compassionate

“Despite being a part time minister, I have come to see formal religion as very empty. [During the pandemic] people need extra compassion and sympathy; many have had close relatives die alone at home or in hospital because of Covid. I have had to provide services that reflect these emotional needs. I have become more compassionate and caring to others.” Paul

 

Finding courage

“I work in the NHS (frontline but not full-on Covid) and have rolled with the massive changes we had to make as a department and hospital. I [realised] that I’m stronger and more flexible than I thought, and was braver than I gave myself credit for.” Caroline

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Making tough decisions

“I’ve learned that my stress is a direct result of the pressure I put on myself, rather than as a result of the actual situation I’m in. For me, managing a care home through this crisis, the most stressful moments have been when I’ve felt under pressure to make the right decision. So, I’ve learned ways to help my decision making. My confidence at work has grown significantly. I now take a much more rational approach to the evidence, and am able to make tough decisions, knowing deep down that it’s for a greater good.” Charlie 

 

Getting fit

Sustained frequent exercises including doing 20 press-ups daily – I am aged 83. Bob

 

Honouring loved ones

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2020 and had to stop work for treatment. I’ve been at home in lockdown reassessing my life and going on long walks with my friends. I discovered how much I was cared for and how important my loved ones are – I decided to paint portraits of them and really observe and notice and honour them. My paintings have got better and as a result I was picked up by the Tate Gallery and asked to do a livestream portrait painting session for lockdown viewers. I’m going to concentrate only on painting and make it a central focus in my life – perhaps it will lead to more opportunity.” Amy 

Many respondents said they had learned to find time for reading and writing. Image: Ben White

Letting go of outcomes

“I think I finally understand the concept of not getting too attached to outcomes. I’d heard of it in the context of mindfulness and always thought it sounded very passive and negative. After a year of relentless predictions, changes and ups and downs, I now realise the value and peace in letting each day unfold as it comes.” Hannah 

 

Being less judgemental

“How much my thinking is full of judgements – of myself and others. And in realising it, that I can change it. I realised how my need for plans and certainty were getting in the way of living a richer life. I have completely changed the way I manage my diary and it is now full of wide open spaces.” Jacqueline 

 

Willingness to help

“To be even more appreciative of the people who work in the National Health Service. To be even more willing to help those who need it.” Pete 

I have learned to be even more appreciative of the people who work in the NHS

Taking risks

“I am no longer afraid to take risks with my style, I feel more confident to speak out against injustice and am far more appreciative of the small moments of happiness in life that buoy me along.” Fiona 

 

Embracing activism

“The pandemic has given me renewed faith in grassroots democracy and in people power. We need to work for climate, racial and social justice, especially knowing that many of the people in power are in denial and not taking proportionate action.” Liz


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Getting perspective

“I’ve learned to have perspective when looking at a problem – many people often have more challenges to overcome and things could always be worse. I’ve spent more time thinking and in nature, just staring at birds and trees and to appreciate the luxury of boredom.” Heather 

 

Structured learning

“I’ve tried to create personal structures to support me – doing courses I would never otherwise have done, starting to learn an instrument.” Patricia

 

Cold water and creativity

“I will continue with wild swimming and writing poetry…maybe not at the same time! Though sometimes ideas do pop into my head when in the water!” Gina

Exercising in a way that is close to nature is something many readers said they valued during lockdown. Image: Erik Dungan

Finding hope

“I have become more confident in my own personality and hopeful of improved community spirit.” Kim 

 

Slowing down

“I have slowed down. Really thought and reflected about what really matters. Being outside. Friends. Family. Good Food. Cold swimming.” Robbie 

 

Focusing on people and planet

“This past year taught me so much about the beauty of the ‘buen vivir’ (good life) philosophy and way of living: being closer with nature, being more community-centric, ecologically-balanced and culturally-sensitive.” Ewelina

The pandemic has forced many to become more tech savvy. Image: Chris Montgomery

Being loving

“Becoming a more ‘explicitly’ loving husband, father and grandfather. To go on on my path of feeling comfortable with the unknown. I will keep with pleasure my subscription to Positive News.” Alain 

 

Adapting to technology

“I have learned that it is never too late to adapt to new technology. The online world has opened up fantastic opportunities for learning, for activity, for meeting others – but only if we adjust our thinking.” Dorothy 

 

Keeping it simple

“That I am content with a more simple life. I have not missed going to restaurants and pubs. I have cut out a lot of the ‘white noise’ in life and spent a lot more time outdoors doing physical things like gardening, DIY, and getting into nature to unwind from looking at a computer all week in my day job.” James 

I’d like to keep finding joy in the quiet moments

Holding joy and anger

“A baby boy will arrive in my life in the summer. What story will I be able to tell them about how things changed after 2020? On a personal level I’d like to keep finding joy in the quiet moments. I want to hold on to the anger I’ve felt at the injustices exposed by the pandemic. I aim to tread lightly and help restore the environment that my son, and his generation, can grow wild in.” Stephen

 

Recognising sacrifices

“I have been the only family member to support my disabled daughter emotionally and physically, and have been honest about the strain this has been. I have controlled the frustration of not being able to do what I hoped to do for myself in my first year of retirement.” Jan

 

Self acceptance

“I accept myself more. I believe that as an older woman I am attractive on my terms. I have read more and been more creative.” Denise 

Some readers said they had learned to be more compassionate. Image: Sebastien Goldberg

Having a project with purpose

“I know I can be happy in my own skin, providing I have an ongoing project that occupies my mind. The knack is to have a project that occupies your mind, but with an outcome that is of benefit to others.” Colin

 

Being brave

“I’m going to be braver: look out for my own prejudices more carefully in an effort to be a better person, speak out when I hear or see injustice.” Jan

 

Asking for help

“Seek the joy in the everyday more. Don’t put things off. Ask for help more.” Christopher 

I’m going to speak out when I hear or see injustice

Doing less

“To spend more time enjoying the garden. Only doing activist work that is locally based. To do less and be still (internally) more. To keep reading Positive News.” Shirley 

 

Practicing gratitude

“I will be more grateful for the day-to-day social interactions in cafes, shops, railway stations, gyms etc. I will smile more and show kindness to others during these interactions. I’ll also feel gratitude for my health and that I survived a very challenging Covid infection.” James 

 

Supporting ethical businesses

“I’ve completely shifted how and where I buy food, stopped supporting any corporate businesses, and also cut single-use items from my life (principally plastic). I’ve changed my electricity supplier and am transferring my banking too, all to ethical businesses. I’m not interested in supporting any business that is concerned with profit and shareholders before employees and planet.” Max 

Looking after houseplants was among the new positive habits that readers started during lockdown. Image: Clau Chases Colors

Minimalism

“I’m not buying any new clothes for a year; we’re going to sell one of our cars; to live a life more true to what my partner and I want rather than live the life we think we ‘should’ live.” Becki

 

Simple pleasures

“Continue to make my own meals. Continue to cultivate houseplants.” Antony

 

Giving myself credit

“In the last year I have realised that I never gave myself enough credit for the effort I put in to checking on others and how lovely that it was all returned during the pandemic.” Ripley 

 

Sisterhood

“I have learned that it really does take a village to raise a child. Giving birth to my second child in May 2020 meant I really had to lean on my local ‘mum friends’. Giving birth is life changing, the pandemic has been life changing, trying to cope with both has sometimes seemed impossible. Yet throughout it all I have learned that I have four incredible women who care about me and my family more than I ever imagined and that I am so, so lucky to have them in my life.” Gini

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