Routine by necessity has changed. Normally I volunteer for a national charity in a large city centre bureau as a receptionist and Voluntary Information Guide. It’s challenging and keeps me on my toes, gives me a sense of purpose and hopefully helps others. Understandably, as I am in a client facing role, I am unable to work from home. I’m finding it very strange as this is the first time in my adult life that I’ve had to ‘sit on my hands’ in a time of crisis when my instincts are telling me to jump in and help. Many charities depend on older volunteers and have been impacted as a result of social distancing.

"Sometimes living alone in ‘normal’ times is lonely, but this is different..."

Jennifer

In normal circumstances, I’m relatively active and usually go for an early morning brisk walk, practise yoga and meet family and friends. I look after Polly, my sister’s dog, three days a week when more trekking is involved! Walking and yoga are an important part of my life. It keeps me fit, it’s therapeutic and I love it!

Sometimes living alone in ‘normal’ times is lonely, but this is different – we have been forced into isolation by a hidden enemy. I no longer go to the supermarket as I have a weak lung. I’m still trying to get an online slot, thus far to no avail so my sister has been to the shops for me and my neighbours check in. My neighbour a fellow vegetarian, left a veggie stew on my doorstep and loaned me some kitchen scales, so really, I have no excuses not to bake!

In mid-March I met my family with the knowledge that we would not meet again for some time. My daily routine suddenly came to a halt, replaced by a new way of living. As the coronavirus (COVID-19) story unfolds I sometimes feel sad, alone and scared. These feelings are normal in such times I know but some days I feel I’m living on another planet.

I have developed strategies and a new routine. If I’m feeling low I don’t give myself a hard time. I do something easy and fun to distract myself: watch a TV drama, do a simple crossword or read. Then, however difficult it feels I get off that sofa, give myself a simple, quick task such as cleaning a kitchen drawer or tidying a bookshelf and I give myself a pat on the back. Generally a small activity creates positive energy and I do more.

I go for my permitted walk at 5.30 a.m. and watch the sunrise. Three times a week I follow a short on-line session my yoga teacher has put on his website with a relaxation meditation. I dance, bake, garden, I’m so lucky to have outside space. I keep connected with family and friends by telephone, text, email, WhatsApp. My list of interesting things to do grows daily.

I don’t like housework but I’m trying to spring clean a room once a week. I do things I enjoy between the necessary tasks and importantly, I try to stick to my new routine and even get a sense of satisfaction after housework! Once a task is completed I reward myself with a treat, such as a biscuit or look at interior design for home and garden on Pinterest. Routine is important, and I’ve found I have more self-discipline than I realised. I’m getting used to my new I regime. This has been vitally important and is helping me through my days in this new world. I take pleasure in the simplest things, sunrise, beautiful birds I see and hear singing when I walk.

I take nothing for granted. I have so much that is positive in my life and I know I am extremely lucky. My thoughts are with so many others. I’m thankful and humbled by those on the front line, caring for us and keeping our society going. Words cannot express just how thankful I am.

There was normal life before the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, there’s a new normal during the pandemic and there will be a new normal after. The challenge is how we make that new life better, but that is another story.

Independent Age is pleased to be working alongside a fantastic range of other charities in the Tackling Loneliness Exchange, supporting the Government’s new campaign to tackle loneliness during the COVID-19 lockdown.

If you’d like to support the range of campaigns Independent Age works on, to make the world a better place for people in later life, you can join our campaign network by signing up to receive our emails.

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