Our content manager Christina Neal talks about why home is where the heart is (even without restrictions).  

How’s your social life been lately? Are you getting out and about again? I’ve surprised myself. Now that the world has opened up and we can freely head out to shops and restaurants, I thought I would be out non-stop. But that’s not been the case.

I like having the freedom to do what I want. Who wouldn’t? But I have to admit I’ve got used to being at home. Maybe that’s because I’ve just bought the house I’ve been renting, but I genuinely enjoy pottering around at home. Admittedly, I don’t want a wasted weekend of doing nothing. I’m not one for watching hours of mindless TV or spending the weekend in bed (though I don’t mind the occasional lie-in). No, it’s more about the fact that I have spent so much time in my house over the past year that I have got used to the peace and quiet. 

Last month, the BBC website published an article with the headline, ‘Is going back to normal even possible?’ The article said that even for those who are double vaccinated, it might feel ‘near impossible’ to revert back to normal. I get that. It’s going to take a while for all of us to feel normal again.

Another BBC article published in February said we might even have to re-learn how to socialise again. That’s completely understandable. If you’ve been cooped up alone, your social skills may be a little rusty.

After a year of restrictions, going out can be difficult and you may struggle to cope with the crowds and the noise. For many, their home has become a sanctuary. A safe haven. I don’t think I’ve been too badly affected by the three lockdowns. I’m keen to get back to normal. But am I a bit more sensitive to noise and crowds than before? Probably.

My house is not a luxury show home. I bought it two months ago and it needs some work. The wooden floorboards creak, the doors are a bit battered, and the damp has only just been remedied. We’ve certainly got lots to do and fix. All in good time. But none of those superficial things matter too much. Yes, I do want to improve my house. It could definitely do with some love and I’m sure it would benefit from some cosmetic enhancements.

What really matters though is that I feel at home here. I live and work in my house. I feel safe when I close the front door. Next week, my partner and I will be celebrating four years of living here. (We rented before buying the place). We’ll be doing something special. But when he asks me what I want to do to celebrate four years in this creaky yet lovable abode, I’ll probably just ask for a takeaway and a glass of wine indoors. Noisy restaurants don’t have the same appeal anymore. Indoors, it’s quieter and the company is just as good. For me, home really is where the heart is.

That said, I do have some insights to share on how I’ve made the most of spending more time at home…

Don’t stop socialising

Being indoors doesn’t mean avoiding other people at all costs. I’m comfortable in my own company, but I also like social interaction. I still have friends coming round for coffee or wine and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Stay active

Being at home can mean sitting still for long periods of time if you’re not careful. Even though I work and live at home, I still exercise every day and make sure I get out and walk at least twice a day, even if it’s just for short strolls.

Make the most of the garden

We haven’t had many dry, sunny days this year, so when we do, I like to make the most of them. I’ve been using my garden to reflect, contemplate, and put the world to rights. I also enjoy reading in the garden with a glass of wine on my garden table on a sunny day. What better way to spend your downtime?

Be aware of your work/life balance

It’s not always easy to switch off from work when you spend a lot of time at home, especially when your work is your passion. That said, it’s important to have some time to recharge your batteries – mentally as well as physically. I close the door of my basement office at the end of the day and try not to blur the lines between work and downtime.

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