The New Normal – Lockdown, week 4

Sun 12 – Sat 18 April 2020

I think we’ve just started the middle stage of the lockdown. And the routine I am in does feel like a new normal. The word ‘normal’ is banded about a lot at the moment, primarily ‘when will we get back to normal?’ Let’s be honest, nobody knows. So the reality we have now is the new normal thus best make the most of it. Plus the normal we return to may only be a semi-normal when it comes.

Health and Efficiency

How do I replace the gym?

One of the big things I am mourning for is the gym. I really can’t see me getting back to the gym for months to come. 🙁 So if I am to live with the new normal then I need to accept this and find some other form of exercise. Regular bloggers will know I used to do a weekly 10K jog-run. But with the shock of the lockdown, I haven’t been doing this for about 3 weeks. It’s that thing about feeling safe indoors and unsafe outdoors.

Jog-runs but without the warm-up I like

animation of a fat man running

I finally got my shit together and went for a couple of jog-runs last week. I like running in the morning when people aren’t around but previously I would have gone out for a coffee first not least to warm up my joints. That clearly isn’t possible so I do my stretching and go out on joints that feel as though they need more time to wake up.

Two decent enough jog-runs

Out twice last week – Sun and Wed mornings. Yep I felt stiff and my knees twinged. And my time and distance were poor compared to what I have done. But it’s a start. 🙂 Managed 3.5 km on Sun and 4 km on Wed but with similar times on both days which meant I did speed up on the second one. Pace was not great compared to my 10Ks but each run used up a useful amount of calories. Details of my jog-runs can be viewed here.

Sleep

I wrote in my previous blog about how I have developed an awkward new sleep patter. That continued this week. I don’t think it’s a mental health issue but I am finding it physically tiring. Crashing out into a deep sleep around 10 pm but then waking up around 3 or 4 am wide-awake. Eventually I return to a deep sleep but then wake again around 6 or 7 am and know I must get up.

Eye and head aches

Under pressure

One health problem I am finding with the new normal is that all the screen time for work and non-work stuff is giving me both vision issues and head aches. I can look at the screen sometimes and see it visually coming apart. And at various times I am having headaches and tired eyes. 🙁

There’s a great article here about how to look after yourself particularly with (over-use) of Zoom. I think my favourite is simply to use the telephone. This means no screen to look at as well as the ability to stand up and move around.

Books and Reading

Without the busyness of work that featured in my previous blog, I had extra time which I used in large to do reading. Delighted to say I got through two good books.

‘After Atlas’ by Emma Newman

A much lauded sci-fi book I picked up at the library. I had never heard of the author but was definitely impressed with this novel. I think it follows on from a previous one she wrote but stands strong in its own right. There are some depressing but probably fairly realistic scenarios about the future. These are the foundations for a good crime thriller with a strong political element thrown in.

‘Wild Chamber’ by Christopher Fowler

Fowler is a contemporary author I really enjoy reading. Indeed I would highly recommend his (almost) daily blogs which can be found here. This is 15th installment in his wonderful series about the adventures of London’s Peculiar Crimes Unit. Mainly based on the two Senior Investigators Bryant and May but each novel increasingly developing the characters of the unit’s other members.

The novels always centre on a crime that needs to be solved. But they also give amazing background on the history of London. And there are subtle punches thrown about modern politics and society. This adventure focuses around murders taking place in London parks thus giving us background on London’s open spaces and allowing commentary on the increasing privatisation of public space.

Work Life Balance

New normal = work my normal hours

Thankfully it was less busy than the previous week when I covered for my line manager. Very nice to do a verbal handover to her on Tues morning. 🙂

I am determined to ensure that the new normal is that I only work the 3 days per week that I am paid for. The hard part has been enforcing my work hours – all day Wed and just afternoons for the rest of the week. I am finding again and again that it is almost impossible to do. People expect action asap and flexibility with everyone working from home.

I’m normally pretty cool about temporary fluidity between my work and home life but I don’t want it to be the norm otherwise it feels like my whole life is work and I end up working over my paid hours. 🙁

Take time out and give yourself a break

I have reflected before that to survive work you need complete days off. That is particularly true at this time where work and home life blur with expectations of maintaining ‘normality’ – hint, this really isn’t normal. The importance of giving yourself a break is reinforced by this excellent article around the pressure to achieve in this ‘time-off’. 🙁

Two instances last week of me pacing myself. First, I enjoyed bank holiday Monday and tried to do just stuff for me though I did take some time out to sort work emails so that I don’t feel overwhelmed by the size of the inbox.

Second, I took the first half day of TOIL accrued last week for covering for my line manager. Took Fri afternoon off and, as I don’t work in the morning, so I had another full-day off. 🙂 I alerted people I was away and so would not be dealing with anything; it’s great to be able to say ‘I’m not working today.’ 🙂 One urgent email came in which I forwarded onto someone else to deal with.

Family and Friends

Mum

New normal is that I phone her twice a day – morning and evening to check she is OK. Dave phones his each night. I’m really missing mum and looking forward to seeing her again once there is some relaxing of the lockdown. I know she feels a bit lonely. But she’s on the phone to her friends regularly and I know she is safe by being isolated. She’s got plenty of food and my brother will be going to top her up next week. But this is hard for everyone and I wonder how we are going to deal with this in the future. 🙁

Friends – tech has saved us

Handheld video

Contact kept with friends via the ever brilliant social media. I’ve always been enthusiastic for new tech and have a belief that if humanity can save itself and the planet then that will partly be achieved through technological innovation. People used to laugh and say ‘so tech will save us?’ Who is laughing now?

Art and Culture

‘La Noche’

One of the aspects of the new normal I am seeking to create is to see at least one film each week. Achieved last week, watching ‘La Noche’ (The Night) via my BFI subscription. It’s an Argentinian film made in 2016. I partly watched to help in learning Spanish but there’s actually not much talking.

Basically its a film about the sex and drug adventures of a middle aged man in Buenos Aires. It’s dark and filmed in a ‘real-life’ style. No real story but a sad reflection on what is many people’s real life as they look for companionship and affection.

Personal Development

I’m not falling to the villainy that says during this time if you don’t learn a language, get a new job, start a new business, write a novel, etc then you have failed. But I am gently continuing to improve my language skills with the Duolingo and Drops apps.

Send less emails to get less back

Delete

And I am completely keeping on top of work and personal emails primarily by deleting crap and trying to control the number of emails I send out. Basically, the more emails you send the more you will get back and the more out of control you will feel – simples! 🙂

The Week Ahead

  • Going to try to keep strictly to my working hours to stop the over-blending of work and home life
  • May well take another half day TOIL so creating a whole day off work – new normal needs to have positive points
  • Definitely going to get out at least twice for a short jog-run
  • Not sure what I can do about changing my dodgy sleep routine 🙁
  • Will get through at least one new book
  • Keeping in touch with mum at least twice each day and looking forward when I can finally go and stay with her again even though she can drive me mad 🙂
  • Going to watch at least one film next week
  • Keep on with my language learning and control emails as well as continue to be active on social media 🙂

And Finally…

If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit

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