Mind Matters with Kyle MacDonald: It’s not wrong to enjoy Covid lockdown

ADVICE

Q: I know lots of people are struggling with being in level 4, but I’m really enjoying lockdown, should I feel bad?

A: No, you should only feel bad if you’re outside Auckland and you’re posting your latest takeout purchase on social media.

But seriously, you’re right, I’ve heard many people describe this second long period of alert level 4 as much harder than last year; it may be the weather or just the sense of knowing what we’re in for and where we’re going

Either way, you are perfectly entitled to have your own feelings about it. And good to clarify with yourself what it is you enjoy about the experience? Is it the quiet, the slower pace, the increased focus on family?

Personally, I’m enjoying the safer cycling on Auckland’s main roads and set myself a challenge to not use my car at all in level 4 and – apart from one grocery delivery to an isolated friend – have succeeded thus far.

The trick then, once we move down the levels, is to take the positive changes with you. To recognise that the desire to race back to the mall, work long hours in the office or jump back behind the wheel of the car can be resisted, and we can slow our lives down and simplify things even when we don’t have to.

Q: My boss is obsessed with Zooming – three or four times a day plus after-work “socialising”. I can barely bring myself to log in – I just want to get on with my work. Is there any way to raise the issue with her? I’m worried I’m the only one on the team who feels this way.

A: Sounds like your boss is either trying too hard to do the right thing, or she’s assuming everyone else will have the same needs as her – either way, not very helpful.

One of the general problems with the impacts of lockdown is it really highlights the different ways people respond to the disruption, and the different needs people have as a result. There’s no question that engaging socially online can be really helpful but, as you are doing, it’s also really important to listen to your gut and attend to your own needs.

Having said that, the one question to ask yourself is whether it’s worth pushing yourself. Are you avoiding engaging in these meetings because to do so feels hard and you’d prefer to avoid them?

Crawling to the back of the cave and withdrawing from the world is a pretty normal response to lockdowns but ultimately is driven by anxiety. And setting up a pattern of avoidance in lockdown can be a hard habit to break once we drop down levels.

If you do decide to talk to your boss, seems like it might be a good idea to check with some of your trusted peers first – as you say, are you the only one who feels this way? I suspect not but, either way, gentle honesty is the best approach. Maybe talk about the juggle that is your life and that it isn’t possible to socialise after work via Zoom – as much as you appreciate the offer. After all, if you were at work, you wouldn’t be expected to go out after work every time you were invited.

Similarly with the during-the-day Zoom’s – gentle honesty. Maybe point out you work better when you can get some momentum up and that you’d prefer, if possible, to not break your flow. And if there are things she needs to check in with you about, well there’s always messenger.

Either way, I can understand your worry – it’s one of the problems of raising these things when we can’t have a face-to-face conversation and, of course, at present, that’s not an option.

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