I’m writing this on day 70-something of Auckland being in lockdown. It’s the longest one we’ve had and honestly, it has been quite a roller coaster ride. There have been many ups and downs during this time. I thought I’d write my thoughts, feelings, reflections of how this lockdown has been for me. I think it’s good to keep some sort of a record of what it was like during this weird time.
My last blog post was a mid-year update and looking back, that feels like a long time ago. It captured the great first half of this year when life was pretty much back to normal. We were able to travel, see friends, watch live shows etc. Those days feel like years ago as Auckland has spent about 20% of this year in lockdown (level 3 &4).
I’ve also posted a lockdown diary last year. All those feelings of anger, sadness, anxiety, boredom and tiredness are all still relevant. However, last year’s and all the previous lockdowns felt different to this one we’re currently in. I have felt the lowest during this lockdown. Lockdown depression truly hit me and there were days when I didn’t want to talk to anyone and do anything. Time was passing by and I had no idea how I spent it. All days blur into one and I hit some really low points.
I don’t want to focus too much on the bad but here were some that I’ve noted down:
- 10+ weeks of not being able to go to the gym. Before lockdown, I was going to the gym at 3-4 times a week and mostly doing spin classes. I fell in love with spin (especially Les Mills RPM classes) and it really helped me mentally. I loved the feeling of pushing myself during the class and also the endorphins afterwards. I work out for my mental health more than for my physical health/looks. Not having this made me feel like a blob. Yes I went for lots of beach walks but after a while I stopped enjoying it due to the lack of mask wearers and the crowds at the beach. I went for some runs too but the endorphins hit after a run is not the same as after I do a spin class.
- Online te reo course. This year I started the TWoA Te Ara Reo Māori course which is an in-person class once a week. I love this class. I look forward to it even though Thursdays are busy days for me with work/being in the office and having to rush home to get to my night class. I like my classmates and our way of learning. We had to shift this to online Zoom classes and I hate Zoom. I feel bad because I’m usually grumpy in our zoom classes and absolutely exhausted after already spending the day at my desk for work. I was also looking forward to our second Noho Marae and sadly it had be cancelled. We will likely be finishing our course online this year. It makes me sad and I’ve also lacked motivation to keep up with our online course work.
- Reading/Books. Prior to lockdown, I was reading almost every night. It helped me wind down and it made me get off my phone before sleeping. Lockdown made me feel the opposite, the last thing I wanted to do before bed was to read and I also couldn’t focus reading at night. I read so much less and much slower during lockdown when I had all the time to do so. The lack of books didn’t help as the libraries were closed and I had to read what’s in my current pile. I did end up buying a new book (Malibu Rising) as I needed something new.
- Cancellation of plans. I had a holiday booked and a wedding to attend to in September. Cancelling these were sad. It made me miss travelling. I miss going out for brunches and dinners out. I miss the small things the most.
- The same shit, different day feeling. Without the separation of work and home, the days blur into one. My desk where I work is in my room as it’s the only place I have space for it and I lack the separation day in, day out. Although I was only going to the office for 1-2 days a week at least I could break my week up and I could see my team in person. Zoom fatigue is real and some days, the last thing I want to do is go on another online meeting. It’s exhausting and so repetitive.
- Rainy / gloomy weather. My mood is affected by the weather. If it’s sunny, my mood is usually happier but when it’s rainy and gloomy especially for days on end, my mood drops. It’s spring so we’ve had some rainy days and they didn’t help with my mood at all. As we’re nearing summer, I hope for more sunny days ahead.
- There are other reasons but are too personal to share but the feeling of grief and anxiety have been strong this time around. There is also the existential dread I feel after watching/reading the news (so I have now stopped watching the press conferences and seeking news because I need to protect myself mentally).
I’m sure I’m not the only one that have felt all these feelings. Us in Auckland has had it rough for the past few months. It doesn’t help that the rest of New Zealand have more freedom than us.
I don’t want this post to be all negative so I also want to share the things that have made lockdown bearable for me. I know it hasn’t all been bad and there were a few things that helped me get through the dark times.
Music – BTS
I don’t know what mental state I’d be in during this lockdown if music didn’t exist. I now fully understand when people say ‘this music helped me get through a dark time’. I get it now because this is why I have become a BTS fan and I’m not ashamed about it at all. I’ve always just listened to music I like. I don’t stick to certain genre although it’s been mostly pop. I listen to classical music while working and since starting my te reo course, I’ve listened to a lot of te reo songs (I listened to this awesome waiata so much that I memorised it so quickly and didn’t need the lyrics for class haha).
Anyway, in case you live under a rock, BTS is currently the biggest group right now. They are dominating the charts and for good reason. I got into BTS because of my sister. She started playing all their songs and videos. At first I was just listening without paying full attention. I knew of them but didn’t really know their music (except for their Boy with Luv collab with Halsey which I’ve listened to before). Their English songs Dynamite, Butter and Permission to Dance are so catchy and will lift your mood. They’re easy to listen to and when I have low energy, I play them to hype me up. (I can’t listen to Adele’s new song on repeat because it’s too sad).
The moment I truly got hooked was when we watched their live performance for their Tiny Desk concert (highly recommend as a starting point). They sang Dynamite plus two of their Korean songs (Save Me and Spring Day) and I had to know more. Whilst I couldn’t understand the Korean lyrics, I felt the emotion and what the songs were about. They’re also incredibly talented and charismatic. Plus their fashion is cool.
Then I started listening to all their albums and found out their amazing discography. Their latest album BE was released last year and the songs reflect so many feelings during this pandemic. Their older songs are all so good and there is such a variety of styles from pop, EDM, rap, hip hop, R&B to ballads. As we were in lockdown, I had time to delve into them and looked into the translations of the lyrics and it made me become more of a fan. I just love how music transcends language.
I wasn’t expecting to feel this way when I delved into their music but their songs bring so much positivity and encourages people to love themselves (literally in the chorus of their songs like Epiphany, Answer: Love Yourself) but also talks about vulnerability. These 7 Korean men break down barriers of discrimination, hate, toxic masculinity etc. There is no other way but to stan.
I did not intend to write an essay about BTS so I’ll stop now but the appreciation I have for their music during this time is immense and I’m quite grateful for it.
Crafts / DIY
Since we had so much time to be at home, I’ve done a lot of crafty things. It was a good time to start on a little project and it was a great way to be away from my phone and reduce endless scrolling. I found these therapeutic and afterwards, I got the feeling of accomplishment.
Between my sister and I, we’ve finished 5 of these DIY miniature houses/kits. Just search DIY house kit or miniature kit as you can get them from The Market and Farmers. I’ve done a greenhouse and the library. I still have one more to finish but they do take time and require lots of patience. I absolutely loved making the library (I made a reel showing the details). Making hundreds of little books was surprisingly therapeutic for me and I just listened to music the entire time. The greenhouse which I finished earlier in the year is harder and I almost gave up finishing it. My sister made the caravan on the right photo. There are so many types for different levels of complexity too. If you’re crafty, these are a great lockdown activity.
I’ve also done a few paint by number kits. The one on the left I finished from last year and the one on the right was the most recent one. You can get them from Kmart and Cotton On. The painting on the right was nicer to do because of the lines instead of the small details for leaves. I love the colours too and it actually goes well with the art in my room already. These paint by number kits take less time than the DIY houses but it’s still a good rainy day activity during lockdown.
Lastly, I’ve also done some embroidery kits. These were $5 each from Kmart. They’re quite cute and if you do a good enough job, I think you can even gift these to someone. The first one I did was the monstera one and for my first try, I think I did pretty well. The Be Kind floral one was more complex and after a while, I didn’t follow the stitching instructions and colours and made it my own. I’ve got it displayed by my bedside table at the moment.
Gardening – Lavender
I am not a winter gardener at all. I basically ignore my garden during winter because it’s too cold to be outside tending to plants. A few weeks ago, in preparation for spring I cleared all the weeds off my garden bed and made a click and collect order of vege seedlings from Mitre 10. The stock was limited but I managed to get some tomatoes and broccoli seedlings.
The biggest source of joy from my garden during this lockdown has been my lavender plants though! When it’s not raining, my lavender plants have so many bees on it and it makes me so happy. I’ve sat outside numerous times just watching the bees and listening to the buzzing sounds. I planted lavender at the front of my house last year and it’s been the best gardening decision I’ve made.
Even if you don’t have a green thumb, I highly recommend planting some lavender. I just left mine alone and they grew and kept flowering. They look great, smell good and attract all the bees which we need! They’re low maintenance and I love them. Seeing bumble bees on the flowers give me so much joy.
I loved my lavender so much I even made a reel! Haha
RPM / Spin
I said above that I missed going to the gym especially RPM classes. I tried to ring every exercise equipment rental place in Auckland to rent a spin bike and sadly I was too late and they’re all sold out. Then I remembered that I have an old exercise bike at my parents house so I asked to pick it up last week and it has changed me.
My biggest regret this lockdown was not getting this bike at the start of it. It would’ve helped my mental state especially on my down days. This bike is super old (I think I got it when I was still at Uni so 8-10 years ago) but it still works and I’m able to do a full RPM class on it.
The combination of spin, the RPM class with my favourite instructions, the music and different sets give me the best endorphins boost. I can’t explain how spin makes me so happy but it does. I miss the actual classes but for the meantime, I am happy I have this back in my life.
I tried hard to not shop too much during lockdown and I was good at the start. However, as weeks went by, I turned to retail therapy and slowly made some online orders. I rarely make impulse purchases anymore but I have done a few this lockdown. So far, I have no regrets on any of my purchases though. Sometimes getting a package delivered feels like it’s your birthday / Christmas and it’s a nice feeling!
My favourite purchases this lockdown have been my Hine workout tights and Veja running shoes which were new. I also shopped secondhand from Designer Wardrobe. My Kenzo sweater is adorable and I wore it to get my second vaccine dose. I also got a bag and the moment I saw it, I saved it in my wishlist. After a few days of thinking about it, I took the plunge and bought it. It arrived last week and it’s beautiful and is so me.
As I noted above, my mood is affected by the weather so when it’s sunny I’m typically in a better mood. We’ve had some sunny days and I didn’t want to waste them. I spent them outside in my backyard. I set up my sun shade and picnic mat and I read and/or napped outside. It was great.
It was during these sunny days outside that my reading mojo came back. I couldn’t read before bed but I read outside in the sun. I knew the beach would be busy with people so I opted to stay in my backyard instead. I’d rather not get anxious at the beach and it was more relaxing not having strangers who don’t socially distance and aren’t wearing masks around me.
TV Shows / Movies
I think the easiest thing to do in lockdown to kill some time is to watch something on TV. Squid Game has been the biggest thing and we binged it in two nights. It was brutal but the acting is great. Season 2 of Sex Education was also amazing. It’s such a great show and deals with so many important topics.
Watching your feel-good movies are a must too. Mine are Music & Lyrics and The Greatest Showman. I need to remember to play these two if I can’t think of anything else to watch and need a mood booster.
Youtube has also been a great time waster. I like Architectural Digest but recently, we found a Filipino YT channel showing properties in the Philippines. It’s called Presello. The mansion videos are the most interesting ones because old Filipino houses have such weird internal layouts, decor and style. Their videos entertained us for a few nights and I want to watch some with my Dad to see his reaction (he was an architect back in the Philippines).
I have also spent time catching up on years of BTS content. Run BTS, Bon Voyage and In the Soop. If you’re ARMY, you will get this but the most laughs we’ve had during this lockdown was thanks to Run BTS episodes.
Level 4 lockdown was harder due to restaurants / takeaways being closed. The good thing about level 3 is that we can finally order food. It’s also a good way to support our local restaurants.
We ordered from Nanam which is one of my favourite restaurants. Their food is always so good! We’ve missed Japanese food too so we’ve ordered a few times from DoDo Sushi. Then we also had a nice picnic in the backyard with Shakeout burgers. It was great! We’ve also had Burger Bach. They do good burgers and such crispy onion rings!
As for our cooking, we did have some Fresh Start meals but after a 2 boxes, we stopped it because we didn’t think it was worth it. I’ve made some Filipino dishes like my favourite Filipino food Sinigang, Adobo, lumpia shanghai and also tried Pineapple Adobo for the first time and it is great! My sister has made chicken karaage and chicken katsu (I’m so glad I got potato starch from the Asian supermarket).
I don’t know how else to end this but of course Turbo had to be on this list. I can’t imagine being in lockdown without a pet. Turbo has been a great lockdown buddy and I think he loves that we’re always home so he can get fed multiple times a day.
Other small things that were nice:
- Walks with my friend after work. For most of the time during lockdown I have been distant online. I usually don’t want to chat/catch up over messages but actually catching up with a friend in person during hour-long walks have been so nice! We’re both masked and she’s got negative covid tests so we’ve been safe!
- Seeing new leaves on my indoor plants! My monstera opened a new big leaf at the start of lockdown and my Ruby Ficus also got a new leaf. My orchid also bloomed again after being dormant in winter.
- Decluttering. I have done many declutters since last year but every time I look at my closet, I try to find more things I won’t wear anymore. I’ve sold clothes, accessories and books too.
- Getting fully vaccinated. It reduced my anxiety knowing I have an extra layer of protection. The people closest to me are fully vaccinated too.
If you made it til the end of this post, thank you. Thanks for reading. I wrote this for myself. I’m not a good writer and I’m not one to journal every day but making posts like these have helped me navigate through my emotions during this weird and tough time. I may look back on this one day to remember how lockdown felt and what it was like for me. It has been tough but I know I am still very lucky. I live in NZ and whilst we have covid in the community, I still feel relatively safe. I hope things get better and wherever you are, take care of yourself! Also, please get vaccinated!!