Freedom is returning
With the exciting news that our lockdown is finally ending this week, and our previously taken for granted freedom is returning, we can’t help but feel a little excited.
We welcome back the ability to return to our favourite pursuits, eat at our favourite cafes and restaurants, and travel to see friends, loved ones of just a vacation. All opportunities we once had before of course, but often took for granted.
Bear in mind we are writing this looking out our window where we are based, here in Officially the World’s most locked down city of Melbourne.
Obviously, different parts of the country, and the World, will have their own conditions and restrictions, so please check with your local authorities for those that apply to you.
Now the term freedom may be a little subjective, given all the things we are getting back, are those we always had before. As the cliché says, sometimes you don’t know what you have lost until it’s gone. No doubt many thing we once took for granted, we may appreciate more moving forwards.
For many, not only the last 3 months, but the last 18 months has been a monumental battle on both a practical and psychological level. Over a period of time, you do become somewhat conditioned to the struggle, and have had to learn to either adapt or accept.
Once the challenge of lockdowns dragged out for so many months, it now presents a new challenge. How does one adjust when lockdown ends ? Has our confidence been dented, are we a little gun shy, or are we jumping out of our skin to go bigger and better than ever ?
Return to eating out
For those who love their dining, whether it be fine food or the convenience and price of famous family restaurants, it’s going to be great to sit down with a menu, ambient lighting, pipe music, good friends or romantic liaisons with the atmosphere of a humming dining room.
Hospitality, along with many other businesses, were hit very hard by the extended lockdowns. Sadly, when you pass through the city, many seem to have closed down, gone broke, or relocated. You may want to jump on google and see if you’re favourites are still in business.
For others, however, lockdown presented a great opportunity to cut back on the regular and significant cost of dining out. Not only the food itself, but the drinks that went with it, and maybe even the transport home, if those drinks were many and of the alcoholic variety.
Where you were spending $200 or more on a meal out, you’ve probably been just as nourished the past few months on $20. Many of us didn’t die of malnutrition during lockdown, quite the opposite I imagine.
So, with the bonus of money saved, assuming you didn’t fill the void with daily delivery food, here’s an opportunity to review how often you really need to dine out, and just how many months you could knock off your mortgage, or save for that bucket list holiday or item, if you cut back to somewhere between the zero of 2020-2021 and the frequency pre-covid.
Getting back to the gym
You hear many tales of lockdown weight gain and loss of condition. Of course, it didn’t need to be that way, but for those who weren’t so highly driven to stay active, or started out well before losing motivation, the challenge of keeping the kilos off, particularly over the winter months, was real.
Perhaps working from home, whilst it presented many benefits, also gave you less reasons to leave your couch or kitchen table, where you new office was located. No more walking to the bus or train stop, or from the car park, now it was walk from the couch to the fridge and back. Of course, if your actual job was physical by nature, then your body underwent a comparative hibernation.
Over time, that can create an excessive of stored energy, which today keeps jumping up and down, long after you stopped.
On the other hand, there has been a noticeable increase people taking part in less intensive exercise, with walking habits increasing significantly. Perhaps that bonus of saving travel time created a few extra minutes in your day. Often it was just the need to go out and get some fresh after being indoors all day, or an active effort to avoid the pitfalls of covid belly. Sometimes the walk around the neighbourhood was the only allowable way to engage in conversation with your closest friend.
Gym junkies, however, have had a whole different trauma, with gyms closed for almost a year over the past 18 months. For them, no form of cardio or walking can ever replicate the joy and endorphin release they get from pumping iron among peers. For many ‘the gym’ is their escape, their social outlet, their special place, as well as providing a plethora of different equipment varieties where they can work even fibre of muscle.
Finally you can get back to the gym to push and pull those weights, attend your favourite fitness classes, or resume your personal training sessions.
Walking into that gym again for the first time you will feel like being a kid in a candy shop. But just like candy, beware that too much too soon will leave you feeling sick and sorry. You will rediscover what DOMS is on day two and three, probably four and five too.
The temptation to work every individual muscle to the max for a dozen sets each, on the first session back, will be too great for many. Good luck the next day.
Depending on how active you have been in this last lockdown, even without gym access, how hard you should hit day 1 should depend on what you have done the past few weeks. Maybe you maintained strength through home gym equipment, or body weight exercises, using improvised equipment of lots of manual labour around the home. Either way, be methodical, sometime you need to take 3 steps back to go 2 steps forward. Your body will thank you for it.
In addition to gyms opening up, you also have group indoor activities recommencing, from dance classes, to martial arts training and many more. Great news for all of those who love to be active.
Freedom to get social again
Lots of us have barely seen our closest friends, in some case even family, due to lockdown, travel distance restriction and closed borders, not only international and interstate, but even within our states and municipalities.
We’ve been limited to zoom calls, or online messaging, commenting on social media posts or the odd phone call or facetime. In some cases, you may have lost contact with some people altogether.
Make an effort to catch up with your friends where possible, not necessarily all on the same day but in the lead up to the festive seasons.
If you don’t have a lot of time, and if restrictions allow, maybe organize a group get together over a BBQ outdoors in the warmer weather. This is a particularly good idea if you have a mix of vaxed and non vaxed friends, and lets face it, who doesn’t.
Choosing a nice restaurant for your long awaited reunion, where some of your friends won’t be allowed entry, won’t see you added to any Christmas card lists.
We are largely social animals, and whilst you may have grown accustomed to lots of ‘me-time’ the last few months, be sure to let some people back into your life. Just like you can review your dining out budget, you can also review your friends budget.
Those people who added no quality to your life, don’t have to reappear now you’ve had a year without them. Perhaps keep those nearest and dearest to you, and make room for some new ones, or not.
Making yourself beautiful again
Maybe you let yourself go a little bit during the long lockdowns, not just the extra inches around the mid-drift, but you now find you have a an abundance of hair, not only on your head, and other than brushing you teeth, haven’t had to worry about too much more when you weren’t leaving the house or seeing anyone.
Now with some freedom returning, barbers and hair dressers are sort that mop on the top of your head. Beauty therapy is back in business, so you can get your nails done, or wax away the rest of that hair. Go get that massage whether it’s for pampering or for your now stiffened lower back due to sitting hours each day.
With social event and entertaining returning, perhaps book yourself in for a make-up session to attend that night out, or to join friends in backing a winner during the Spring carnival.
Freedom to Travel
As someone who travelled in ridiculously excessive amounts over the past 3 decades with work, sport and the occasional R&R getaway, the reintroduction to travel will be one of the largest appeals of your new freedom.
For others, just like we spoke about with your dining spend, lockdown also allowed you to reign in your non-essential travel bills. Whilst it wasn’t nice to be able to even if you wanted to, fact is if you were a frequent flyer, you probably saved a fortune.
Now you have a little extra cash to put into that dream holiday, once there is freedom to travel in both directions. It is only natural that many people, even when allowed, will have a hesitancy to travel too far from home. Perhaps the travel bug has been fumigated, or concerns about virality and tolls in popular tourist destinations have you reluctant to leave home.
For others, the fear of jetting off somewhere only to be found you can’t get back home, or an overnight shift in Government policy (and haven’t we had a few of those) deems that you need to 14 day quarantine on arrival either to your holiday destination, on your return home, or both.
The fear of getting ill in a less sanitized part of the World is probably a greater concern than before, and the fact travel insurance companies are reluctant to insure against CoVID19, is enough to turn people off.
Whatever you choose to do, make an informed decision, plan for all possible outcomes and enjoy your time away. (PS check your passport is still valid).
Freedom to go back to work / school
Let’s face it, home schooling for almost a year is something very few of us will ever want to go through again. Not only a challenge for parents, particularly those who were also working from home and/or with multiple children across various year levels, but also for the kids themselves.
Working from home also, whilst great for some, was tedious for others, finding it challenging to stay focused or even get the support that would be readily available in the workplace. A lot of ‘work’ time at home may have been spent checking your facebook, instagram, or twitter feeds rather than getting tasks done, so the return to the office may be better for productivity.
Both parents and children alike, will be glad to have a chance to see their friends and colleagues again, and I’m sure some will be just as glad to see their teachers and bosses too.
Academically some kids have fallen behind, but keep it in perspective. Life is a long line journey of learning, and whilst there are academic things to learn and scores to attain for senior levels, in many cases adjustments are being made.
Some of this maths and science pales into insignificant compared to what kids have been able to learn from being home, the extra time with their parents who could impart some life skills and deepening invaluable bonds.
Of course, if you plonked them in front of a computer game for mindless hours all day, or watching YouTube videos, these learning opportunities may have been limited. Teaching your kids about LIFE, is as much an investment in their future than the money spent on schooling.
Curbing your online spending
Interestingly, with extended lockdowns, the volume of online spending was unprecedented. Now in many cases, of course, it was warranted to get essential items that you weren’t able to leave home for, or delivered meals. However, so many purchases were made out of boredom or to fill the void of once regular plaza trips, as it it were a form of therapy.
PayTV subscriptions skyrocketed with more time spent on the couch allowing more movie watching. Be sure to cancel or downgrade some of these once you go back to work, as many just renew automatically if left unmonitored.
Online gambling was also a big money spinner during lockdown. With pokies venues and casino’s closed, people fed their addiction online. Sometimes losing bigger sums via their credit card, without the need to have to feed cash into a machine. Interestingly, horse racing and other professional sports continued without crowds, which have effectively become huge gambling industries.
Fact is boredom feed addiction, whether it be food, binge watching tv, Ebay spending, social media or dare I say it, porn. Now is the time to get yourself back on track and focus your time and money on things that enhance you rather than drain you.
However your life may readjust with this new freedom, take your time to find your place, its not a race. Find a balance between what you loved about the pre-covid life we took for granted, and the new things you discovered that you loved about the last 12 months.
Likewise, all the things you hated about it, you can say thankfully many of those will fall by the wayside.
Reset your life, you’ve had a social, health and maybe financial cleansing, the future is yours to make what you want of it.
CEO, Global Fitness Institute