Reflecting on the first 3 months of 2021: Part 1 – What I found particularly hard

In the first part of this new series, I will be talking about some reasons why the first 3 months of 2021 were particularly hard. Similar to a lot of people, the third lockdown in the UK hit me very hard and most of the reasons that made the first 3 months of 2021 are related to the lockdown. However, there were some specific reasons that I wanted to talk about in this blog post, which I some of you may be able to relate to. Note that when I refer to the pandemic, I talk about the situation in the UK and I know the situations in other countries would have been different.

Furthermore, I have done this blog post to allow myself to properly reflect but to also help other people who have struggled as well, as others may be able to relate to this.

Being at home all the time led to my work life balance suffering

One of the main things I value is having a good work life balance, which includes a clear separation between different aspects of my life where this is possible. Being at home nearly all the time made this extremely tricky. For example, working from home full time meant that I was often working, studying and doing other things on the same room and table, which meant that the distinction between work and home life was often blurred and effectively merged into one. Furthermore, one of the main things that has always contributed to my work life balance is seeing people face to face, which was not possible to do due to the restrictions. I felt that not having the work life balance that I would have wanted frustrated me immensely at the time. However, looking back I felt that there were things I could have done to slightly improve my work-life balance, even if it was not by much.

Not having face to face socials/interactions made dealing with an extremely busy schedule very stressful

This links quite well with the first point, where I talked about how I wasn’t able to see my friends or work colleagues face to face at all during the past 3 months. This led to me feeling very isolated. Furthermore, I was extremely busy with different aspects of life, and the fact that I wasn’t able to have those face-to-face interactions from time to time made the busy schedule stressful at times, as it led to a lack of respite. Compare this to university, where although it was very busy and full on, having face to face events and socials gave me something to look forward to, which motivated me to get through the busy and stressful days. Furthermore, I also felt that face to face events were a good way to break up the week, and is definitely one of the things I am most excited about when things reopen again.

Burnout came from two sources, being extremely busy and lockdown fatigue

Burnout was a major challenge that I faced, particularly as it came from two sources, being extremely busy and lockdown fatigue. This meant that to overcome burnout, I had to overcome both a busy schedule as well as lockdown fatigue. Overcoming one of these challenges is hard enough on its own, therefore overcoming both at the same time effectively proved to be a step too far. Therefore, burnout become an issue that I couldn’t really solve in the first three months of 2021. However, looking back now, I felt that although lockdown fatigue was hard to solve, I could have done things differently when it came to dealing with my busy schedule. I should have paced myself a lot more than I did rather than go hard too early. Pacing myself is certainly something I want to do more going forward.  

The uncertainty over when things would open up again didn’t help

I feel that people reacted to this third lockdown in one of two ways. Some were fairly calm about it and tried not to stress about something they couldn’t control. Others were sick and tired of it and found the uncertainty of how long they had to endure this extremely frustrating. I was in the second category. Looking back, I felt November 2020 was when this pandemic started getting to me mental health wise, and I dealt with it pretty well prior to that. Therefore, the last 2 months of 2020 were mentally tough and I was mentally drained by the time 2021 began. At a time when I was mentally drained, having additional uncertainty over things certainly didn’t make matters any better. This uncertainty was on my mind almost on a daily basis, and affected my wellbeing and productivity. However, I did feel that this got better over time. When the roadmap was announced, some of it effectively became a counting down the days until restrictions were lifted exercise, which helped immensely and gave me something to look forward to.

Was there anything you found particularly hard about the first 3 months of 2021?

11 thoughts on “Reflecting on the first 3 months of 2021: Part 1 – What I found particularly hard

  1. I’m similar to both Niraj and Michelle – I thought I’d dealt with the first several months quite well, but when we got to the anniversary of the UK lockdown, I started really struggling and thinking that the three months to June 21 would be tough to negotiate. That feeling only lasted a while, but meanwhile other aspects of the lockdown have started to bite – mainly the general slowing down of activity (and particularly economic activity), as well as uncertainty over what life will be like in the months and years to come. I’ve found it hard to have a purpose during this slowdown and that’s not been good for self-esteem and general mental heath at all. But it does help to have it confirmed that I’m not the only one feeling like this – thanks Niraj!

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  2. I’m sorry your struggling right now. I feel you. It is tough situation right now. I too am in another lockdown. It can be destressing especially thinking about the future and what it will bring.
    I hope this month, after this reflection, you can find some way to create some kind of work-life balance at home and design a schedule that always for deep work, connection and restoration.
    Sending love and support to you.

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  3. Agree on this. I think this 3rd lockdown was the worst, Jan-Feb-March were quite bleak. Lack of daylight, never ending lockdown, kind of felt like no light at the end of the tunnel. I think the road map really helped having something to hold onto. 🙂 It was a tough 3 months but I’m feeling cautiously optimistic about the future!

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