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When we went into lockdown in March, I was personally very anxious about what the next few weeks or months would look like.  Lockdown completely up-ended my established routines.  I was used to being in the office most days, working and engaging with lots of other people face-to-face and generally being surrounded by others.  I had a (short) commute by train and was also very busy outside of work with various activities, including meeting up with friends and family.  My immediate anxiety centred around how I was going to fill my time  Could I do my job effectively working from home, and without the face-to-face contact I was used to?  Was I going to get bored and lonely?  How was I going to fill my evenings and weekends?  Was I even going to be able to leave the house?  How long would it be before I saw another person face-to-face again?

Workwise, the first couple of weeks were quite stressful.  I has to quickly adjust to spending most of my day in online meetings rather than physical ones, and these seemed more intense and tiring than normal.  Part of the issue was that everyone was operating on a heightened sense of urgency and anxiety, as we all struggled to adjust and keep up with what seemed to be a very rapidly changing environment.  I also had to pretty much drop all the activities I had bee working on to focus on the immediate challenges.

Outside of work, I found myself initially writing 'To Do' lists for my weekends.  This was driven by a sense of anxiety about not being able to fill my time productively, and a worry that I would somehow sink into apathy without some structures in place. I was in contact with many friends and family members and spent long periods of time talking to them online - in fact, much more so than I would normally.  I made contact with old friends who I hadn't spoken to for some time and really found myself enjoying the opportunities we had for a proper catch-up, although the flip side of this was that I felt exhausted.

Over the weeks that have passed, I have found myself establishing new routines.  The commute has been replaced by an early morning walk or run - I've really appreciated the opportunity to do this and have thoroughly enjoyed the 'grounding' sense that this has provided.  I think I feel less stressed generally, though much of that is about focusing on what I can do right now rather than thinking too far ahead; and trying not to get too embroiled in social media and the news!

I've also re-discovered some old interests - I've started baking again, and making bread, and I've been painting and drawing.  These are activities that I would not have justified in my previous life as I would have felt just too busy to focus on them.  I've found that I can happily spend a day in the garden reading a book - something that I probably haven't really done since I was a teenager!

So, to summarise some 'unexpected benefits' for me:

- more time to spend on activities I really enjoy and which give me a sense of fulfilment

- feeling fitter, calmer and generally less stressed

- reflection about what really matters to me

- better work/life balance

- concentrating on what I can control in my life right now, and trying not to worry too much about the rest.

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