Outside the streets are quiet. The usual sound of children playing and teenagers shouting is loud in its absence. There are no cars driving up and down, no conversations with neighbours at the driveways, no work vans pulling in. The only sound is that of the Autumn leaves as they trip over each other and gather in street corners where the kids used to play.
Inside the dynamic has changed too. The comforting rolling boil of the kettle has been replaced with the squeak of the revolving fridge door. The crinkle of plastic packets has become white noise to me now and the ever familiar jingle heralding the arrival of the latest news has been silenced in favour of the Netflix tune. The doom and gloom of the daily news and COVID numbers brings nothing but misery into the house. The discussions around the latest figures have been repetitive and endless and so lately we have been pulling the plug on it all. Misery and despair and worry can only enter your world if you let it and now I am choosing not to let it. I know the situation is pretty grim. I don’t need the latest numbers to tell me that. So Netflix it is. A few episodes of Schitts Creek and the alternate reality it offers really soothes the soul.
There have been various approaches to the whole lockdown experience over the past few months. From excessive exercise, marathons on balconies, Tour de France distances on stationery bikes and the constructions of home gyms to past times slightly more slovenly. Instead of becoming a lean mean fighting machine, I found myself comfort eating, binging on said Netflix when I should have been walking the dog and reaching for the biscuit tin instead of the fruit bowl.
Now, to be fair it doesn’t take a pandemic for me to make poor food choices. Whether its comfort eating, mindless eating or rewarding myself for some very minor accomplishment, my mind and my hand is never far from the treat press. And I’m equally successful at beating myself up about said poor food choice. But now, in these ridiculously stressful and unusual few months, I am choosing to ignore the chatter in my head warning me about empty calories and sugar levels and periods of inactivity. If one of my children came to me upset, anxious or tired and looking for comfort in the way of a sugary treat I certainly wouldn’t give them a bowl of kale and a glass of water. If a biscuit or a chocolate bar will bring them comfort and joy then I am certainly not going to give them a lecture on fat content and calories. There’s a time and a place. And if I feel I need some gentle anaesthesia in the form of a cool G&T after a long day of juggling work and family in COVID times then I shouldn’t feel the need to berate myself either. I have allowed myself the comfort I needed, I have listened to my body and cared for myself accordingly in the same manner I care for my children.
However all this self-care and responding to my cravings have resulted in the dreaded COVID stone. Apparently you can have too much of a good thing after all. But I know I’m not alone. In a recent survey it appears that roughly 46% of women and 34% of men find themselves in a similar situation. Only problem is that we can’t meet up now and lament our fate together. No, I got myself onto this so now I need to get myself out of it. Only problem is that circumstances haven’t changed. I still crave that comfort, that security and sense of well-being. But I am going to have to find another way to get it, or I’m going to be a blimp when all this is over. It will be over. Eventually. And when we emerge from hibernation I would rather be gazelle like than hippo like. It’s time to take control back before the COVID stone turns into the COVID tonne. So as well doing my bit to help flatten the national curve, I will be focusing on flattening my own curve and getting back on track. How hard can it be right?