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Life At Home Insights

How small joys make a big difference during coronavirus lockdown

Twenty households. Five countries. A global pandemic. One shared experience. This week, people in Italy, Sweden, China, Australia and the USA have reported a shift – and despite some of the countries easing their lockdowns, this shift hasn’t been all positive. However, one of our six gathered insights around life at home during COVID-19 has, like a sunbeam through dark clouds, shone through: that among worry, financial stress and a lack of freedom, the little things are providing essential fragments of joy.

A difficult couple of weeks

“My home has been my prison,” says Margareta in Italy. It’s sentiment that has been shared by everyone in lockdown – but how do people feel now they’ve been granted some freedoms?

In Italy, the USA and Australia, roads are busier and some shops have started opening. But with this, people realise that what they’ve thus-far seen as a short-term compromise is, in fact, a marathon and not a sprint. While they’re truly grateful for their new freedoms, their experiences of going out feel limited by government-imposed restrictions on their behaviour.

Freedom. But in stages

This has led to a feeling of anti-climax, with people confronting the fact that the return to normal life will be staged – and even then, that life is unlikely ever to feel ‘normal’ again. “Today, I finally went shopping,” says Ilenia in Italy. “But it was complicated – long queues outside the supermarket, they take your temperature and you have to keep your distance.” 

In some countries, people have been told they’ll be working from home for the long term. In accepting this, some have considered more fixed solutions to the juggle of the blurred, never-ending days they talked about last time. “When I went to bed yesterday, my thoughts were: tomorrow I have to get up very early. I have to be productive. I have to exercise more and be more active,” says Margareta in Italy, before adding: “I did none of that.”

Disconnection in a connected world

While homes are providing us with comfort and safety – our number one need right now – even for those in a form of lockdown with family members, the potency of real human connection is craved.

Shai in Australia, for example, has noticed that video calls provide a temporary fix – but that the longer he’s required to social distance, the more he notices the lack of human connection: “Building and maintaining that personal connection with clients, friends and colleagues is nowhere close to the actual experience of meeting.”

The negativity spiral

As media coverage moves away from infection figures and health-focused data, and more towards financial meltdown and unemployment figures, people are struggling to keep their ‘in it together’ feeling of collective fight against the virus.

Even for those who’ve not been struck down with the illness itself, the effects of corona are now being individually felt. “I struggle every day,” says Susannah in Sweden, one of the few countries that hasn’t been locked down. “I’m applying for jobs. I’m still stressed about being unemployed.

Beauty in the detail

But it hasn’t all been bad. In our last post, we talked about how people are seeking comfort in rituals. Finding optimism in the little things is, similarly, a simple way to self soothe – and one we all have the power to give ourselves.

“We’ve loved the fact that for the first time since my daughters were both, we can spend all day together as a family,” says Mauro in Italy. Margareta, also in Italy, reports: “Today I finally took action in transforming my tiny balcony. I ordered flowerpots, seeds and soil. I will transform it into a mini vegetable garden…”. Meanwhile, in Australia, Nicole shares that “long baths and playing music give me the time out I so badly need at the moment”, while Shai has taken to growing herbs to cook with.


9 things to love

Stretch on waking

Every animal on the planet stretches instinctively when it wakes up. But not us! Before you get out of bed in the morning, luxuriate in a few seconds of doing whatever feels good: flex your toes, circle your wrists or hold your hands above your head and point your toes for the full body treatment.

Savour paper

You don’t have to be a stationary buff to appreciate the satisfying feeling of a crisp new page in a good notebook. Whether for task-oriented lists or for more thoughtful, creative endeavours, simply notice the lovely feeling of a turning and filling a fresh new page each day.

Water therapy

Whether a luxurious bath or a power shower, make your cleansing ritual more meaningful by moving it to a different part of the day (a bath mid-afternoon feels as indulgent as a nap, for example). Then, focus on the fluidity of the water against your skin – there’s a reason, after all, that women opt to give birth in it.

Smile at the day

When you open the curtains and see the world for the time each day, smile. It will set your whole day up for a more positive mindset. Weather gloomy? Just let your eyes roam around the scene before them until they find something to settle on that gives you a spark of delight.

Go barefoot

If you live in a country where time outside is now allowed, seek out some grass and slip your shoes and socks off. Planting them on the earth for five minutes a day, and tuning in to the feeling of quite literally grounding yourself, makes you feel very good.

Clear out a drawer

Great emotional comfort comes from a good clear-out. But there’s no need to head into your loft to get it. Instead, work on a micro level, taking things drawer by drawer. And if you want to nerd out a little (and amp up the satisfaction!), take ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots.

Take a nap

The universal experience of lockdown (and coming out of it) is feeling drained and exhausted. That’s because we’ve all unwittingly absorbed enormous amounts of environmental stress from media coverage and government announcements. A nap is a real joy. Take one today!

Smell the roses – literally

In many countries, spring is becoming early summer, and even in cities, that means billowy, fragrant blooms hanging from trees in parks or lining the pavements – think wisteria in London and roses in Copenhagen. Stop, smell them, then smell them again. There can’t be any simpler joy.