Can not Can’t

Can not Can’t

Writing has taken a back seat these past few weeks. COVID-19 – “The Virus” – has hit and cast a shadow over the world. And writing about the outdoors and work-life balance has felt, well, a little trivial.

I’m lucky in that lockdown hasn’t meant too many adjustments for me. My work is largely done from home, I don’t eat out too often and I quite enjoy my family’s company. My friends joke that social distancing is where I excel!

So while my day-to-day routine remains the same, recent events have triggered other anxieties. Feelings of uncertainty, a lack of control and there being no end in sight to the ‘new normal’ aren’t good for those of us prone to over-thinking things.

There have been other emotions too. I felt angry at first. Angry at whatever has caused this pandemic to unfold. Frustration that we couldn’t stop it in time. Worry about my friends and family, or having to brave the supermarket. Bitterness for not being able to get into the mountains just as the weather was improving. Plus the realisation that the walking goals I’d set this year are slipping away. These emotions aren’t helpful but they tend to be the ones we dwell on.

I was becoming distracted and irritable. Stressed and anxious. Spending hours checking the news and not being able to concentrate for more than a few minutes at a time. I stopped finding the time to read, write and enjoy myself. I felt annoyed, and almost selfish for feeling like this, when all I’m being asked to do is stay at home for a bit.

Even when we stay at home, memories of happy days in the fells and thoughts of new adventures allow our minds to escape to these places. If the outdoors helped me before, when the stresses of working as a solicitor became all too much, they could do it again. I just needed to shift my mindset.

I stopped thinking about what I can’t do because of this stupid virus, and started thinking what I can do. It looked a little like this:

  • I can still get outside from my front door – I’m surrounded by countryside with lots of space and few people.
  • I can discover and explore footpaths I’ve not been down before.
  • I can plan routes for future adventures.
  • I can camp outside in the garden (in fact I’ve probably been camping more times in the last week than I did in all those years working in an office).
  • I can learn new skills so I’m ready to hit the hills with a renewed confidence when they reopen for business.
  • I can look at old photos and anticipate how much I’ll appreciate that first summit post-lockdown.

So in ‘these uncertain times’, let’s not dwell on what the Virus has taken away from us. Remember what’s important in life and focus on staying positive, remembering that “those who think they can and those who think they can’t are both usually right”.

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