It's lockdown again, but this one feels different. First time round it felt as if everyone was scared to go out, because, well, we were all going to die if we did, weren't we? The second one felt a bit half-hearted. Now, despite the new variants, the numbers of infections and deaths soaring, it seems that definitely not all, but still too many people, don't think that it's enough of a threat to change their lives, to stay home if they can and social-distance. It doesn't help that the advice keeps changing, and we're not always sure what we can and can't do. People have 'had enough and want to get on with their lives' - as if the mere fact that they're fed up with not being able to get out and about, and socialise with friends and family, makes the pandemic less of a danger. Just because there's now a vaccine available doesn't yet mean that the risk has diminished. I go out running, and on holidays and weekends I avoid certain routes because I know that there will be people who simply won't move to allow me space to get by - rude in any situation, but possibly life threatening in the current climate. I'll run on slippery mud and out in the road (checking for traffic first!) in order to keep a safe social distance between me and anybody else, but always try to head out on the paths that are quieter. I run or walk for my physical and mental wellbeing, and coming across too many people who seem to expect me to be able to levitate to get by them, doesn't make for the sort of mindfulness that my exercise normally allows. I smile and call a cheery 'thank you so much!' to those kind people who move aside for me, another big smile and a 'you're very welcome!' to the lovely people who thank me for moving - and, yes, a rather sarcastic 'you're welcome' to those who pass by oblivious to the fact that I've nearly slipped over moving out of their way. Sadly, they'll also have been oblivious to my comment.
A little aside at this point - doesn't it make a difference how people behave to us? A little bit of thoughtfulness and kindness, a pleasant smile or greeting, or a thumbs up, and I beam back, with a nice warm, fluffy feeling. It doesn't take much, does it? Out for a run in what turned into torrential rain one day, and a woman running the opposite way, also soaked through, smiled broadly and gave me the thumbs up - I carried on smiling for the rest of my soggy trip back.
It's hard for people, and I know that mental health is suffering and social isolation is one factor. It's a real problem, and there's understandable anxiety about businesses, jobs and money, juggling working from home with home schooling; missing friends and family and not knowing when you can see them next is particularly difficult. I know that, I find it hard, too. People miss going to pubs, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, gyms - staying home during the winter is harder than in nice weather, long dark days never help anybody's mental wellbeing. In the original lockdown people hoped that by the autumn we should be able to get back to normal - that even if there was a surge again in the winter, that we'd have beaten the worst of it. Now the numbers are even higher, even scarier, and it's hard to see an end to it.
So, people have Covid fatigue and I'm hugely sympathetic to the strain that so many people are under (I'm trying to help as many as possible through offering walk and talk sessions, and virtual exercise and talking therapy, with free taster sessions available - please do contact me for more information). But if I think of fatigue, I think of all the NHS workers who are busy trying to save lives, and have been battling to keep departments running not only for Coronavirus patients, but all those critically ill due to other illnesses or accidents. Every day they're firefighting, attempting to make space for all the patients the ambulance crew are waiting to offload before going out to pick up yet more desperately ill people.
And I guess this ties in with how other people's behaviour makes us feel. If you've been working constantly since the pandemic started, trying to care for huge numbers of very sick patients, getting sick and seeing colleagues get sick (and, in too many case, die), whilst abiding by all the rules yourself, and you see people (and not just the Covid deniers!) saying that they've had enough, they can't do the social distancing stuff anymore, they deserve to catch up with friends and family and have some fun - I'm guessing that doesn't make NHS workers feel loved, cared for, appreciated. No nice warm, fluffy feeling there. Rather than clap for the NHS, let's follow the rules, and show them that we appreciate them that way. My 7 year old grandson stated back in March 2020 that he was 'fed up with this virus already!', and yes, I'm guessing we all are now. The trouble is that the virus doesn't care that we're fed up with it and finding it hard not to do the things we want to do; it's still out there, and it's still a very real threat to lots of people - and not always just those who are considered vulnerable. So we can't have Covid fatigue, we can't be complacent, we have to stay strong and keep on doing what we can to stop it spreading. So, I guess a big thumbs up to all the people who are still taking this seriously, huge thanks to all those working tirelessly to look after us and keep the country running, and a reminder to those who may have become Covid complacent, that we're not out of the woods yet, let's try to be kind and support each other, so that we can hopefully emerge a stronger and more caring society on the other side.