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  • Writer's pictureJan Johnson

The Best of Time in the Worst of Times

Updated: Jan 10, 2023

Woman and border terrier in the countryside
Jan and Monty

Like many people in the UK and indeed around the world during the Coronavirus lockdown, I have suddenly found myself with time on my hands.

Reflexology, as a close-contact therapy, has not been permitted since mid-March (2020). The shut-down was sudden and brutal. I was busy seeing clients one day and then ringing round cancelling appointments the next. That was it; a busy full life, fitting in work, chores, dog walking, meals, family time…. Sounds all too familiar I’m sure? And then there were no clients and no work, but there was time, and lots of it!

Initially, I filled this void with cleaning and tidying and sorting. I then managed to get hold of some paint online and decorated my treatment room. This was a great opportunity while it was lying idle and gave me a much-needed sense of purpose. The jobs on the list were ticked off one by one until there were no more jobs to do. The garden was weeded, the lawn mown and the sun was shining so I sat; and then I sat some more and listened to the sounds around me, watched the birds on the feeders.… and sat. Gradually the pace of my life slowed. ‘Useful’ activity was not necessary to fill time; as time does not need to be filled. Time just ‘is’ and it is okay to just ‘be’.

We have been so fortunate while we have had to ‘Stay at home and Save Lives’. The spring season has put on it’s glorious, fragrant, colourful show under endless blue skies and sunny days, making my daily walk with Monty (my dog) a sheer delight. I have discovered a whole network of paths throughout the countryside around my home; all previously overlooked in favour of the more dramatic, sexier Peak District nearby. I have found hidden dells full of bluebells, woodland alive with birdsong and meadows of wildflowers. I am no stranger to walking in the countryside but each new place, each new view has been a gift, with the time to savour it.

Being out in nature can benefit our mental well-being as well as our physical health. Walking in beautiful green spaces or spending time in the garden helps to calm the mind and lift the spirits. Research has shown that it helps with mental health problems including anxiety, depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

This slower pace of life has made me naturally more mindful of my surroundings. I have found the practice of ‘Mindfulness’ difficult in the past. It has always felt forced. Now I’m doing it without thinking. Connecting with my senses, hearing nature’s sounds and noticing details of colour, form and tiny insects going about their day, and smelling the fragrance of a carpet of bluebells or mayflowers on the hawthorn as I pass by.

I have used this time to walk more than usual and I definitely feel much fitter. Exercise releases chemicals in the body which also have a positive impact on depression, anxiety and our immune system so, combined with being out in nature it’s a win win!

Covid-19, for all its devastating consequences and disruption has given many of us this one gift – time; a precious commodity that we normally have too little of or spend unwisely. As lockdown eases, I am hoping to welcome my clients back to my newly decorated treatment room very soon; and the time to just sit and ‘be’ or to get out into the countryside will be less freely available once more. But that time will be no less precious; I will appreciate it even more.

Covid-19 has given us the best of time and the worst of times.

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