On the 23 March, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made an address to the nation that was going to dramatically change our lives.
We were instructed to only leave our house for essential shopping trips, for one form of exercise per day, to collect medication, or to work if absolutely necessary.
We were told not to meet friends, and if our friends asked to meet, we should say no.
Almost everything across the country closed – shops, gyms, leisure centres, garden centres and more, but perhaps the most worrying of them all for the 20-25 age group was the closure of the pubs, bars and nightclubs.
With a diminished social life and no option but to stay at home, lockdown for many served as a time to reflect, press pause, and slow down to appreciate the aspects of life we previously underappreciated.
As the pubs and bars have now reopened, we can finally get our hair cut, and life begins to feel a bit more normal again, now serves as a good time to reflect on those changes we made and the benefits we gained. I spoke to 10 different 20-25 year olds about what positives they took away from the lockdown period.
A theme that cropped up frequently was the opportunity lockdown gave people to reassess their spending habits and take pleasure in the non-material aspects of life.
Rory, 25, from Essex, explained that spending less money during lockdown gave him just the same amount of fulfilment as before, “before lockdown, I would go out to eat or for drinks with friends most nights after work, but having just as much fun at the park with a few beers has made me realise you don’t need to spend a lot to have a good time with the people you love.”
Chantelle, 24, from north London, found that spending less money taught her that material possessions do not bring happiness, “I was always obsessed with getting the next best thing, but lockdown made me realise that possessions are nothing. A nice bag will never fulfil you.”
Guy, 24, from Cambridge, echoed Chantelle’s sentiment, “lockdown has really lifted the veil on consumption for me. I’ve barely spent any money and despite this feel no less fulfilled.”
Research by AA Finance found that 80% of consumers spent significantly less money throughout lockdown, and 75% of those that saved money intend to use it to pay off credit card debt and save for long-term goals, which is what happened for Toby, 24, from Essex.
“It was good to save money because I couldn’t spend it all in the pub. It helped me to work towards my goal of buying a house.”
Connecting with family and friends:
With more time on our hands and little in the way of distraction, lockdown meant many of us had the time to reconnect with friends and family, albeit via the internet.
An Ofcom study found that adults spent an average of 37 more minutes per day on the internet during lockdown, and
Flo, 22, who lives with her boyfriend in west London, has enjoyed the innovative ways that she used the internet to connect with her loved ones, “although it’s been difficult to see family and friends, people have found such interesting ways to connect and different activities, such as quizzes and virtual ascot races.
“I’ve actually caught up with more people than I had before lockdown.”
For Roxy, 24, from Somerset, on the other hand, lockdown served as the first time in 18 months she didn’t need to use the internet to speak to her family.
“Living and working abroad for the last year and a half at such a fast pace of life was fun and exhilarating, however coronavirus brought me back home and allowed me to have some much needed quality family time: baking, gardening and hiking. It made me appreciate the simple things in life.”
Bex, 23, from Hampshire, has been in a long-distance relationship for the last two years. Lockdown meant that she was able to spend an extended period of time with her boyfriend, which wouldn’t have been able to happen before.
“If you’d told me this time last year we’d be spending over seven weeks in a row together I wouldn’t have believed you. We’ve gained so much quality time.”
Exercise seems to be the one thing people have universally enjoyed doing during lockdown. Back when we were strictly mandated to only leave our homes once a day for exercise, many people made the most of the opportunity.
According to a survey by Sport England, 63% of people used exercise during lockdown to aid their mental health, and Charlotte, 22, from Surrey, was one of them.
“I’ve found lockdown useful for finally getting my fitness up again, as since I started a full-time job I never did any exercise and I felt sluggish all the time.”
Spending time outdoors:
Exercising went hand-in-hand with spending time outdoors during lockdown, and many of us have used the time to appreciate the nature around us.
TJ, 23, from Surrey, said, “lockdown increased my love for walking and spending time in nature. Suddenly being in a position where driving wasn’t an option, I walked for hours in the areas around my home and opened my eyes to the beauty of nature. It really highlighted how valuable movement is to the mind for me.”
Jo, 23, from Buckinghamshire, agreed, “I’ve been able to spend more time outside, going on walks and runs, which I couldn’t do as often before lockdown.”
Rory said he was lucky enough to have a garden during lockdown which he made the most of, “lockdown has given me a newfound appreciation for my garden, which I had barely used over the past few years. Just having a space to sunbathe and relax has been great, although I feel for those who don’t have that, and I’m glad that London’s parks remained open.”
As we start to return to normality as we enter the next phases of lockdown easing, perhaps we can all look back at lockdown as a time in which we had no choice but to slow down and realign with the things that truly make us happy in life.
By Lucy Bacon