Life in lockdown: adjusting to a new normal

coronavirus lockdown in brighton

5 April 2020: Coronavirus lockdown in Brighton.

I’m sat in our messy patio garden in my comfies with Bob Marley bringing the Sunday vibes, lusting after the motivation to pick up the barbell that’s taunting me to do some goddamn consistent exercise.

The lack of energy that’s slowly enveloped me since the UK coronavirus lockdown started feels like a double-edged blanket of comfort and lethargy. The more I snuggle into it the less drive I have to do anything, even exercise or set up a new routine.

I love my buzzy city and I get my energy from people so to be cut off from the things that feed my soul really hurts.

I’m learning lots of lessons in this new way of living

Tess Agnew working from home during UK Coronavirus lockdown

On one hand, it’s nice to be sat here with nothing to do, nowhere to be, all the time in the world to let my thoughts scramble out through the keyboard. I never noticed how many birds there are on our street. It’s nice to hear them, and my neighbours in their gardens.

It’s nice to have a tidy house, to enjoy more home-cooked meals, and spend more time with Chris whilst he’s also now off work on furlough. We’ve made a list of films to watch, downloaded our favourite PS1 games on the PS3 (Crash Bandicoot, Tony Hawk, Abe’s Exoddus, anyone?!), set up the turbo and I’ve stocked up on colouring pencils and paint-at-home pottery sets.

It’s great to have a home gym set up and ability to stream exercise classes online from the many amazing fitness and yoga studios around my beautiful once-buzzing Brighton.


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I’m so grateful that I still actually have some freelance work to do from home, to give me a reason to get up and add structure to this new kind of day.

And it feels good to make more of an effort checking in with family and friends on much-needed daily phone and video calls to lift each other up when we get down. This past week especially I’ve lived for those pick-me-ups, it really helps to see faces on video and talk it all through ❤️

Adjusting to a new normal

But here’s the thing: I don’t want video calls and I don’t want a killer virus to rip through society. I want everyone to be OK and I want hugs, and cafe catch ups and co-working chats. And group rides and sweaty gyms. And mooches around town and chips on the beach.

I want to take my mum out on Mother’s Day to treat her and celebrate how well she is after years of being ill, and I want to exchange contracts and complete to move into our first owned home instead of having to push it back a few weeks or months (?).

Platf9rm coworking community online Zoom call
Platf9rm coworking community coming together over Zoom ❤️

I want to be annoyed that I can’t concentrate because the buzz in my amazing Brighton co-working space is too loud and I keep getting drawn to it, and I want to have back the full calendar I had planned for the spring and summer with lots of great cycling trips and events.

I want my two or three day a week cycle commute to my client in Lewes and I want to line up alongside my team mates every Sunday to race at the local velodrome.

On the plus side, when I *do* actually lift myself out of this funk to get out for my Government-approved exercise (which has not been every day, more like every few days which is probably why I’ve been a bit down), the air is clean and the roads and cycle paths are an absolute dream. I wonder if once this is over people will use their cars less and walk or ride bikes more?

A27 Brighton during Coronavirus Lockdown Tess Agnew
A27 cycle path!!!

This wasn’t in my plan… or was it?

I’m pretty sure this new ‘normal’ we find ourselves in was not on my vision board, guys. Or so I thought…

Amongst the magazine cuttings of lush green forests and new-home decor ideas there is no global pandemic, no country-wide lockdown and social restrictions telling me I can’t hug and hang out my friends. No signs outside grocery stores or shortages in toilet roll.

But looking at my vision board now, the messages of ‘Breathe’, and ‘Balance’ and ‘Back to School’ are staring back at me. The words and images I spent hours sticking down whilst shoulder to shoulder with friends in January still ring true and are now more relevant than ever.

2020 vision board

In the midst of coronavirus I can see my vision board with new eyes. Nearly everything I wanted, I can (and am) still doing:

  • Restore a work-life balance (setting a new home-working routine)
  • Make time for yoga and meditation (at home via Zoom with my favourite studios)
  • Run and ride my bike (alone or with Chris – just need to make sure I actually *do* get out for my daily exercise while we can as I haven’t always made it out every day)
  • Get fit and strong (with live home workouts and using my garden gym)
  • Get a weekly shop in and eat more home-cooked meals (I’m eating like a Queen whilst Chris experiments with new recipes)
  • Stay connected with friends (virtually, for now)

The only things on my vision board that I’m not already doing or could do better are drinking more water (to supplement the alcohol – tell me I’m not the only one!), camping (obviously can’t do this for now), and making home in our new flat (the move is delayed until after lockdown).


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However you’re feeling, it’s OK to feel it

It feels good to have sat down to blog this and realise that actually, the things I craved at the start of the year – space, time, the excuse to slow down, staying connected with loved ones and friends – are all still possible during this time.

As we enter my birthday month into more of this crazy new ‘normal’, there’s been a lot going on upstairs in this head of mine. I’ve been struggling and I needed to write it out, so if you got this far, thanks for reading, I hope you’re OK and staying safe and well. I’m doing the right thing by staying at home, and I hope you are too. If we all follow guidelines now we can beat coronavirus quicker and minimise tragic loss of life.

Please just remember, however you’re feeling during this lockdown, it’s OK to feel it:

  • It’s OK to be scared and anxious, and crave normality.
  • It’s OK to miss the things that seem trivial if they matter to YOU.
  • It’s OK to turn off the news when you feel the panic rising in your chest.
  • It’s OK to struggle with being forced to work from home and have nowhere to escape to.
  • It’s OK to do all the home workouts and share them all on social media to try and cling on to your vibe and keep your fire burning (me, week one and two).
  • But it’s also OK to come down from that in a meltdown to realise you’re too flat and too tired and not motivated whatsoever to do anything at all (me week three). I got the word ‘flat’ from a good friend this week and it’s the perfect word to describe it. When you get your energy off other people in your community it’s hard when you’re forced into isolation.

Tomorrow is a new week and in writing this I’ve reminded myself of the little things I *can* do each day to lift myself up whilst I continue to stay at home to save lives.

What are you going to do to give yourself a boost?