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In mid-March, Spain entered a strict lockdown with very little warning. Realising I would have to once again work from home, I was filled with a feeling of dread. Didn’t I hate working from home in the past? Didn’t I pay for a desk in a coworking space so as to see other human beings? Would I stop bothering to get dressed? Would I snack all day and gain lots of weight?

I quickly calmed myself down and prepared to get on with two weeks (or so we thought then) of being stuck inside my flat in Barcelona.

The beginning of the lockdown went by fairly quickly, I had a tremendous amount of work and this distracted me rather well. The next part was a little harder, facing the reality that this lockdown would last a lot longer than two weeks, and work completely drying up. Freelancing is fairly “feast or famine” at times, but this has really been exaggerated during the lockdown. Yet, somewhat out of character, when work went quiet I didn’t mind, and even found a lot of positive things to do whilst stuck at home with so much time on my hands.

Usually, if my workflow decreases, I contact my customers or do some marketing to reach out to new ones. This time though, I decided to take a staycation (I was lucky enough to be able to do this as I had to cancel a holiday to see my sister in New Zealand and I knew I wouldn’t be spending money on clothes, eating/drinking out, coffees, entertainment, travelling, etc).

I thought I’d share some of the positive things I have done/learnt during this staycation. I will present them in list form, because during the lockdown, for some reason, I have become rather fond of lists:

1.       I have rediscovered my love for reading. Usually after a full day of translation the last thing I want to do is read, I’d rather be doing something active like dancing or working out by the beach. The lockdown has reminded me of my true bookworm nature, and I’m loving it. My favourite read so far has been the Maddadam trilogy by Margaret Atwood, check it out if you are into speculative fiction – although be warned, there are some eery parallels to our current situation.

2.       I have been managing to remain fairly active, alternating between workouts, dance classes and yoga before we were allowed out and now taking some morning jogs and a walk or cycle every evening (incidentally, in trying to avoid the Barcelona crowds, I have discovered lots of lovely little backstreets and some amazing street art).

3.       I have connected more with the people who are most important to me (via Whatsapp, Zoom, etc.) and also reconnected with people I had been meaning to contact for ages. I think that before the lockdown, many of us were finding ourselves so wrapped up in our busy lives, that it was easy to neglect this.

4.       I have been cooking a lot of delicious meals, and haven’t really missed being able to eat out. I’ve also discovered new ways of eating that I feel suit my body better. I am no longer eating the traditional three meals a day, but only when I am actually hungry. I have been learning more about nutrition and finding alternatives to the early lockdown comfort foods. I have even tried a one-day watermelon cleanse (which I would totally recommend to anyone whose health permits it, as it is much easier than fasting - feel free to ask me about it if you are interested).

5.       My house is a lot tidier than usual, as I don’t have to rush out in the mornings or get home late in the evenings. Also, I have time to spread the cleaning out over the week rather than having to do it all at the weekend.

6.       Now that we are allowed outside, I make full use of this freedom to enjoy the fresh air every single day without fail. Being a country girl, I found it hard to be inside a flat in the city with no garden for so long, so now I am out discovering new green spaces I previously didn’t know existed in my area.

7.       I have started an online course on the science of well-being on Coursera. There are so many wonderful free resources out there, I can’t believe I wasn’t taking the time to learn new things before.

8.       I have been listening to a lot of music, discovering and rediscovering bands and artists I love. I really do think music is good for the soul and it has helped me remain calm throughout this extraordinary situation.

9.       I have managed to take part in social activities such as dance classes, writing group meetings and pub quizzes on Zoom, helping me feel connected to the outside world and reminding me that we really are lucky to live in an age where the internet makes this kind of communication possible, without which we would surely feel much more isolated.

10.   To stop myself giving in to lethargy, I have discovered the joy of list-writing to organise my time on a weekly basis and create some sort of routine. It is so satisfying to scratch an item off the to-do list!!

What are your experiences of the lockdown? Have you also had extended periods of free time to fill? I’d love to hear about what you have been up to and am open to suggestions for new activities! Take care and stay safe!


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