Times are tough for many people right now. But we all deserve a little comfort and joy. Our Senior Policy and Partnerships Advisor, Tim Burns, tells us how he's been finding the positives amidst the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown in the UK. He shares the ways he has been keeping busy. And explains how he's been taking this time to slow down and appreciate the space around us.
In my lifetime I have never experienced anything like this.
Living in the midst of a pandemic and a lockdown across the UK, and most of the world, is something that many predicted but no one saw coming.
The times we are living in right now are threatening and tough.
There are huge impacts socially and economically.
Many people are terrified about their jobs, worried about friends and loved ones, or stuck in small flats with no outdoor space.
It is a time to look out for others even if this is challenging.
One thing we all share is not being able to meet our families, friends and neighbours face to face.
How do we all learn to cope with this, especially when no one knows when it will end and what the future looks like?
Adapting to the situation
For me personally the first few weeks were a shock, but slowly things are beginning to adapt.
In terms of adapting, one thing I am aware of is how much negative news connected to Covid-19 is out there. And how much I am increasingly trying to avoid it.
Are there positive things and stories in this crisis that we can relate to? I think and hope there are.
And I believe we all need to focus more on finding these positives if we can.
Spending time with family
For example, spending every day at home for the past two and a half weeks has meant spending more time with my family.
Looking after a two-year-old who can no longer attend nursery, see friends or use a playground is hugely challenging but at the same time hugely rewarding.
It has meant my wife and I have had to be more creative in finding ideas and routines that he will enjoy.
Whether that’s doing a workout each morning with Joe Wicks, baking in the kitchen together, or painting rainbows to put up on our windows.
However, it is the time outside that we really enjoy.
Appreciating a little time outdoors
We are in a lockdown. But thankfully the Government allows people to get outside once a day to undertake a form of exercise, responsibly.
This should be local, use open spaces where possible, and be alone or only with people from your own household.
When outside it’s important to keep at least 2m away from other people. And, of course, wash your hands when you return home.
Being outside helps improve our health
For everyone this opportunity to exercise and be outdoors is vital.
It helps improve our physical and mental health that puts us in a better place to cope with this crisis.
This, in turn, can lower the burden on the NHS from ill-health.
I use this time to either go for a run or walk with my family.
See the beauty in your area
We tend to get out in the afternoon as it gives us something to look forward to. And we're lucky in that we have a local park and a river within a 20-minute walk of our house.
Personally I am thankful this crisis coincided with spring.
The last few weeks have tended to be dry and sunny and the temperature is getting warmer.
New growth is rapidly appearing on trees in my neighbourhood and blossom is everywhere.
More and more birds and wildlife are appearing.
Use this time to slow down
In this crisis, many people are re-learning how to slow down.
This gives us more time to notice what is around us, especially walking around our local community.
For example birds, trees, other people, quieter roads, or interesting buildings.
My little one is currently obsessed with finding insects, walking along walls, and collecting sticks and pine cones.
He also sees things that we don’t, like a hole in the path that looks just like a seahorse.
There are also far fewer cars on the roads. When we step outside we now hear a mixture of silence alongside birdsong and people talking.
The air also feels cleaner and brighter and healthier.
Get to know your neighbourhood
Spending an hour outside each day to really get to know our local neighbourhood is inspiring.
Even down to noticing recycling and bin collection crews, essential shop workers, postal staff, and many, many others who deserve our thanks and support for continuing to do such an amazing job.
Whilst keeping a distance, people are friendly and respectful.
I don’t know how many times someone coming the other way has walked out into the road to maintain social distance for us and our little boy.
Enjoy the space around you
Finally I don’t think I have ever noticed so many people and families out together walking, jogging and cycling.
And I don’t think I have ever seen so many little people out cycling with their families on our roads instead of just being in the park.
The reduction in cars I think is encouraging people to reclaim this space a little.
Find your own positives
These are some of the positives that I am going to latch onto during this crisis.
And I am sure there are many more out there that also need sharing.
At Sustrans, we urge people to follow government guidelines and stay at home.
And we also encourage people to follow the guidance to get out once a day for one form of exercise – a walk, a jog or a cycle ride.
Stay local and keep your distance from other people. But do explore and engage with what is around you.
Most of all enjoy being outside.
Things are different but we all need some comfort and joy in these times.