LQM: No Excuses - Laura Tapper


Whenever we turn on the television or the radio, people are counting down to the day when we all get our freedom back. If there’s one thing Coronavirus has taught us, it’s how much we value being able to get out and about, choosing how and when we meet up with friends and family. Many of us have also missed our usual work routines, leisure activities, volunteering roles and cultural events, not to mention travel opportunities. That said, I can’t be the only one who’s wondering, after fifteen months of restrictions, quite how I used to fit everything in. 

Many times, I've heard people talk about the way the change of pace has affected them. While loneliness has definitely been an issue for some, and most have certainly missed their loved ones, many have found that some aspects of lockdown life, with more time to reflect and indulge in their own personal interests, have suited them. Whether they've gone for regular walks, read more or taken up a new hobby, a bit more ‘me time’ and the power to make their own timetable, has been quite a pleasure for many women, albeit one they'd feel rather guilty to shout about.

So why do we often find ourselves unable to carve out time for our own projects or, even more controversially, do nothing? Each of us will have our own combination of pressures which leads us into spreading ourselves too thinly, while putting our own wellbeing at the bottom of the list. 

As we go back to more usual working patterns, or a new post-Covid arrangement, it’s important to make sure that we maintain some separation between the office and home, whether that’s switching off the email alerts or going for a walk around the block to signal that the working day is done. Now that socialising is becoming possible, it’s important not to feel pressured into catching up on a year’s worth in the space of a few weeks. If you’re uncomfortable with the pace that others are taking, have too much to do or simply value some quieter time, it’s okay to say so. Anyone who has a long-term health condition, money worries or caring responsibilities knows how awkward it can sometimes feel to say no to social invitations, but it’s a mistake to start making rambling excuses: that only risks confusion and hurt feelings later on. Owning your own needs and wishes with gentle honesty works better and true friends will always try to find alternative ways to meet up with you.

Our pre-Covid leisure time may have been crammed with things we loved to do, but lockdown has offered us a chance to re-evaluate. It may be that, if we cut back on a couple of the activities, those we value the most will become even more enjoyable. As we move into the next stage, it’s up to us to carefully choose how we spend our precious time - no excuses required.