Alan Shortis
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The two week lockdown started a year ago. Initial positivity in my actions didn't last and continue to be absent.

When the first lockdown started, I managed to go into it with a fairly positive approach. I ate very well, I exercised daily, and formed some good habits.

This was driven by the idea that it was going to be a short term change (though quite how we thought the virus would just go away is now amazing to me), uncharacteristically great weather, and the extra time each day with the removal of my commute being put to good use.

The drop in cases over the summer meant I was very lucky to travel to Wales for cycling and Athens to relax in September, something most were not able to do. That small window of hotels and airports being open was a godsend because I cannot imagine how I would have felt without it. For me, being away from home and seeing new things is where I am truly comfortable and happy, especially after living my life in 2 rooms for the six months prior.

What happened?

Every year I have some issues with seasonal affective disorder, and when that formed like Voltron with the second and third lockdowns, and my usual susceptibility to low mood, it was all a bit much. I lost interest in almost everything. Aside from snooker videos on YouTube.

This is what has made lockdown so difficult for me. Not just feeling empty and crushed under the weight of nothing, but knowing I have everything I need to be exactly who I want to be at my disposal and STILL not using it. It becomes a cycle of guilt, a quest for comfort, repeat.

How can this be fixed?

The weather is improving, evenings are light enough to spend time outside after work, and the direction of my job is changing in a way that could really work for me. As SAD becomes less of an issue and I dedicate myself to regular psychotherapy I should find some motivation creep back in. Another cycle: the more I do, the more gains I see, the better I feel, repeat.

Thinking back to the most creative and inspired times of my life, there were a few things I was doing regularly. A list of those things serves as a pretty succinct list of what I'm going to try and do to get myself out of this hole:

  • Photography. I was never good, but I enjoyed it. Time to find some Ektar 100 and dig out the Holga, and make it more of a process than quick snaps with my phone to be posted on Instagram for 10 likes.
  • Design. I was always designing something, and a few years ago I was doing a lot of design as part of my job. The changes to my current job that could be coming up might move me closer to the design process and I'm really looking forward to it. Design is why I got into development, not code. Code was just a necessary part of showing off ideas.
  • Appreciating art. In any medium: film, photography, paining and music. Sometimes I literally feel it in my chest and it makes me want to create something that could launch that feeling in someone else.
  • Travel. This one seems difficult right now, but Beau Miles would tell me that there is so much to see on my doorstep. I've also recently started Geocaching which really opens up nearby places I would ordinarily never visit.

A less fun but extremely key ingredient missing is a focus on health and fitness. They're absolutely vital to feeling good physically and mentally yet I have struggled with them for years. The instant gratification of comfort food and the sofa wins against the long term happiness provided by broccoli and yoga.

If you have read this far, thank you. I usually write about web development, but getting this out of my head has been something I have needed for a while. I might do this more often. Web Development is an industry that leads to burnout and dissatisfaction in large numbers. I'd like any readers to know that it's normal to feel this way, but it cannot be ignored.

Changes aren't easy, but neither is feeling static every single day.