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The Silver Linings of Lockdown

General Interest

Despite being put in place for public safety, Covid and the resulting lockdowns have been one of the most challenging times in our collective consciousness. Yet despite the challenges, many have been able to find positives.

Researchers from Dunedin’s University of Otago have discovered that throughout New Zealand’s series of lockdowns - widely regarded as some of the strictest to have been imposed anywhere in the world - two-thirds of us have been able to find those ‘silver linings’ in the situation. Because, although for some, lockdown meant physical separation from loved ones, others recognised the opportunity to wind down and take some time to explore new hobbies.

From hearing the birds sing to global online knitting networks, the study found 64% of respondents were able to find those ‘silver linings, whether for themselves personally, or they recognised the benefi ts of lockdown for the wider community.

Lead researcher Dr Matthew Jenkins says New Zealanders have been able to focus on a wide range of positive experiences during lockdown. From pride and comfort derived from our country’s response to a global pandemic, to having more free time to exercise, take up hobbies, or build relationships with their neighbours, the lockdowns have represented a major flashpoint in people’s lives and created an opportunity to stop, take stock and to reflect and connect with others, Dr Jenkins says.

“Many people reported that kindness and helping behaviours became more common over this period. They described an ‘old fashioned sense of community and caring … that was not apparent before lockdown’.”

Importantly, with less time spent commuting, people have been able to spend more time with their families than what they traditionally would. “Because of the social distancing measures in place, technology became a major way for people to connect socially and for work via online services such as videoconferencing,” Dr Jenkins says.

One participant reported being able to speak to their dad, who lives overseas, every day, while another joined a global online knitting group to maintain social interactions, Dr Jenkins adds. With movie theatres closed and no restaurants to dine in, our behaviours shifted, sometimes starkly and the global pandemic has been pushing us to utilise our devices for work, play and connecting.

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We have been increasingly seeking out entertainment on streaming services such as Netflix and YouTube, and we have been looking to connect with one another on social media outlets like Facebook. And, although traditional social media sites have been growing, it’s clear we’ve been wanting to do so much more than just connect through messaging and text — we want to see each other too.

While this has boosted popular video sites, such as Facebook’s video capable Messenger app, Microsoft ’s Zoom and the renowned Skype, more obscure apps have also experienced a surge in popularity, such as Google’s video chatting application, Duo, and Houseparty, which enable groups of friends to join a single video chat and play games together. Fact is, for many of us, lockdown simply enabled more time to do things the old way… picking up the phone!

Whether it’s an old friend or a distant family member, showing support and connecting with loved ones is essential in crises like these and for many, just chatting over the phone was all they needed to connect with friends and loved ones. So it seems, at a time when we are advised to keep apart, social distancing has actually been bringing people together more than ever.

If you’re struggling to find the positives, try keeping a gratitude journal, it’s a great way to help train your mind to look for the positives in life and remind you of how lucky you really are. Positivity breeds positivity, so the more you do it, the easier it will get.

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