If you’ve been wondering where all the hectic baking content, multiple book recommendations and frequent FaceTime calls have been hiding during this second major lockdown in Sydney, I’m with you.
When Gladys Berejiklian announced stay-at-home orders for all of Greater Sydney in June, a sense of familiarity came with it. I knew it was of the utmost importance to stay at home as much as possible, and that I would do whatever I could in order to keep our community safe.
But when it came to planning what I would do at home, things were different. I did not feel an immediate urge to prep an intensive exercise plan. Nor did I stock up on flour and sugar to commence a mini Nigella series in my kitchen.
Nope, instead, my only thought was: “Huh, guess I’ll be familiarising myself with the couch for the next week”.
Of course, that week has since turned into a month, with at least a month more to go. And still, my motivation to ‘achieve’ or ‘do’ something this lockdown remains a firm no.
It couldn’t be further from my outlook in the initial lockdown of March 2020. Then, lockdown was novel, different, unique—it felt easier to lean into the uncertainty.
Last year, I got a milk frother and carefully made cappuccinos in my kitchen each morning. I ran 5 kilometres every day. I went for long walks. I spoke to my friends on FaceTime in my lunch-break.
This time around, I’ll proudly admit the most I’ve ‘achieved’ over the past four weeks is binge-watch the entire series of Brooklyn 99 and cut my boyfriend a mullet.
It feels incredibly odd to think that this time a year ago, we’d come out of that first lockdown assuming our roadmap was pointed firmly towards a gradual return to pre-COVID normality.
In the later months of 2020, I caught up with friends who’d become fit and toned over that initial lockdown. Others who’d transitioned into healthy wholefood diets. Some had scaled back their drinking, and one had started writing journals.
I myself was feeling fitter than I’d felt in a long time. I’d read good books, I was continuing a positive streak of frequent communication with friends overseas, conversations revived during the first lockdown.
Everything felt normal for a little while, until June 2021 rolled around and suddenly, life was turned on its head once again.
That sense of novel newness I felt last year was replaced with deep lethargy. Back to not seeing friends, back to hurried dashes to the supermarket for necessities, back to long walks being the highlight of my day.
Really, how could I blame myself for losing interest in those same, groundhog day routines we’d all so readily implemented in 2020?
Of course, those in Victoria have taken the hardest hit of all. Going into a second lockdown almost as soon as the first had finished would have been more difficult than I myself can comprehend. Then came their third, fourth and fifth lockdowns.
Speaking to two close friends from Melbourne who have (thankfully) just come out of lockdown 5.0, they were quick to reassure me that my complete change in outlook during Sydney’s second lockdown was certainly not an isolated case.
“I remember feeling a bit sad when the first lockdown ended—if only I’d known!” one explained to me.
“By the time the second lockdown came around it just felt depressing as there was just no end and it kept getting extended. The novelty started to wear off and by the weekend, I was just like ‘Eh I guess I won’t be leaving the couch’.”
Another friend tells me she spent the first lockdown thinking it was “A bit of a novelty,” especially because she was living in a share house.
“We played games and read and went for lots of walks which is something I usually didn’t make time for. I also found I was speaking to friends over the phone a lot more which was a nice connection to make rather than just texting.”
But things changed during the subsequent lockdowns in Melbourne. She found herself spending a lot more time thinking about work and letting it dictate her mood.
“If something good happened at work I felt great and if something bad happened it felt a lot worse than it should have.”
So while I myself might be feeling fatigued and completely without motivation to achieve something right now, I also know I’m not alone. And if you’re feeling it, I hope you know that too.
Of course there’s no doubt I still love to take myself on a walk at least once a day, but the thing that’s truly changed is the sentiment behind it. There’s no longer that sense of competitive inspiration: “I must get fitter before this lockdown is over” or, “I must join in that Zoom call quiz with my friends on Saturday evening in order to feel sociable”.
Instead, it’s simply doing the things I know I need to do to get through. For some, that’s still running half marathons every week. For others, it’s frequently baking up a storm in their kitchen.
For those like me, it’s sitting down, chomping into ice cream and watching escapism television… with the odd attempt at playing hairdresser to spice things up a bit.
Hang in there, this won’t last forever.