7 Small (And Big) Ways Our Lives Have Improved Since The First Lockdown

Two years on, people share the positives they've discovered amid the immense challenges of pandemic life.
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It’s been two years since the first coronavirus lockdown began and no one could have predicted that life would look like this.

Words and phrases like “Zoom party”, “hybrid working”, “lateral flow test” and “Deltacron” would have left us confused in March 2020. Today, the way we live our lives has changed drastically.

The past two years have been difficult for all of us. Lives were lost, jobs taken away, relationships tested, and our mental health plummeted during the height of the pandemic. But while we all faced some hardship during lockdown, it also allowed many of us to stop and think for the first time in years.

Those heavily restricted weeks made us reflect on our lives and what we value most. People left jobs that were making them unhappy, which led to ‘The Great Resignation’. Others picked up a new hobby, exercise regime, or language.

Two years on and people are still reaping the benefits. We asked people about the ways their lives have improved.

‘The pandemic allowed me to get into photography’

Stephen Daly, a 40-year-old theatre producer and photographer from Margate, made more time for himself after the first lockdown, putting boundaries in place and learning to say ‘no’.

“I’ve used that time to try out new creative ideas and careers. My work life balance is better than ever,” he says. “I bought a camera for the first time in June 2020 and now I’m not only selling wildlife prints, but I moved from London to Margate and I’m working part-time as a freelance photographer, shooting mostly queer events.”

Daly also “took the plunge” and did a writing course. “I’m editing my first book (a wildlife adventure story for children) and starting to send it to literary agents!”

‘My autistic partner could take college courses online’

Liz Lucas, a 27-year-old developer from Cardiff, says her autistic partner has been able to attend more college courses now that everything has moved online, making it more accessible for disabled people.

“He doesn’t have the stress of public transport and can listen freely on Zoom calls,” she explains. “The same goes for me. I have a chronic pain issue, and where I’d have to call in sick often and repeatedly got let go from jobs for struggling with my health, working from home means I can manage the pain, not miss work, and even got promoted.”

‘I learnt how to love my home town’

Yasmin Neal, a marketing business development assistant from Durham, planned to leave her home town straight after uni – but lockdown meant she couldn’t.

“I learned how to be more accepting of my home town,” she says. “All the walks I went on with my dad exploring the area more and even just being able to pop round to my friends and sit on her garden wall for a socially distanced catch up really made me appreciate being in my home town more.”

‘I developed a new appreciation for nature’

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Like many of us, Philippa, who chose not to share her surname, found a love for the great outdoors. “I now have a new love for walking, being outdoors and exploring different areas on foot and it’s really helped me to feel grounded when things are chaotic,” she says.

“This wouldn’t be the case if things had remained the same, with all the distractions in life, paying attention to your surroundings and enjoying nature isn’t usually a priority.”

‘I quit my job and started my own business’

Londoner Georgia St John Smith, 26-year-old CEO of Sancti Wellness, had an amazing career in recruitment, but knew that it wasn’t what she wanted to do. “I was working all hours and rarely took a moment to breathe,” she says.

She moved to Bali before the pandemic to train to be a yoga teacher. Then when she got back to the UK, the pandemic “had flipped the world upside down”.

“My business plan was largely around going into offices to teach yoga and bring wellness to the workplace. This quickly changed to online Zoom classes,” she says. “I had no idea how to run an online business... let alone navigate a pandemic (which was really overwhelming and scary). But now, two years later having an online business has allowed me to live and work in Ibiza.

“I had no idea my ‘redundant’ business plan would be replaced with a much better one that I would have never been able to plan for.”

‘The pandemic helped me spend more time with my son’

“My positive experience from lockdown was getting to know my 22-year-old son, ” says Jules, who didn’t share her surname. “Obviously he would normally be busy with his jam packed social life, it gave us the opportunity to have family drinking sessions, I’ll forever be grateful for that time.”

‘I up-skilled and finally got some career progression’

Precious Agbabiaka, 29, from London, was working in the charity sector pre-pandemic and had handed in her notice just before “we knew Covid was an actual thing”.

“There was a lot of talk about tech on Twitter at the time and I had nothing else to do since we were stuck inside, so I attended an online event about it and joined a bootcamp,” says Agbabiaka, who’s now a product designer. “I up-skilled and did a bit of freelance work from home, then began applying for full-time roles.”

“It definitely took some time and it wasn’t an easy process but I’ve come out of the end of it in a completely different industry and job role that I’m enjoying, with a bigger earning potential and and much better career progression. I wouldn’t have even considered it if we weren’t in a lockdown.”