Musings of an Edinburgh Celebrant: Finding Connection During Lockdown

Living apart from our wider family and friends, being furloughed at work or working from home… the world feels like it’s on pause. We are now weeks into lockdown and it is looking like we’ll be facing another three weeks at the very least. It is also likely that social distancing measures will be in place and affect our lives for many months to come.

Of course, lockdown will affect us all differently. The trials faced by those full-time parenting young children around work will be distinct to those experiencing the heightened loneliness of living alone and the long hours of each day. Not to mention the vast array of other stressors such as managing health and care issues, feeling trapped in a flat with no garden, trying to keep a business afloat by transitioning to online services, postponing or being unable to honour significant life events such as weddings and funerals, living separately for shielding reasons, not being able to see elderly relatives or new babies.

It would be easy to allow the palpable stress of the global situation and the challenges we are facing at home to overwhelm our daily thoughts. Finding ways to beat the lockdown blues is essential for our mental and physical health both in the short and longer term. Finding what works will be unique to you. 

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past fortnight, as I am sure many have, contemplating the impacts of a lack of physical contact with others. If you google ‘connection’ the definition that comes up is: 

Connection: a relationship in which a person or thing is linked or associated with something else.

Online Dictionary Definition

What does that really mean for us humans? I jotted down a quick list of the first thoughts that came to mind when I considered the value of human connection in my daily life as a mother, partner, friend, colleague, pregnancy/birth/postnatal support worker, massage therapist, and as a celebrant:

touch, laughter, banter, community, sharing stories, halving problems, perspective, outward looking, stimulation, hugs, affection, meaningful contact, letting off steam, relaxation, feeling strong, fun, a sense of purpose, motivation, helping others, fulfilment, joy

If you like, why not do the same? Close your eyes, picture yourself in your daily life and the roles you fulfil and jot down any feelings or thoughts that come to mind.

The challenge that we then face is: how are we to generate those feelings on our ‘connection list’ whilst socially distancing during lockdown? 

Some feelings may be easy to kindle through other activities. For example, I am finding I can generate many of the feelings on my list through cycling or hiking the hills near my home, connecting with my writing groups online, catching up with friends over the phone, setting structured tasks for home and work, keeping a sense of community alive through my work for myself and others.

Of course, there may be some things that will feel impossible to achieve. For example, on my list, hugs. Hugs with those we are not living with are clearly not allowed at the moment. There’s no getting around the fact that I am missing facilitating beautiful life celebrations where close family and friends share their joy and where I am in the privileged position of witnessing all those beautiful hugs. However, I’ve discovered it is possible to bring this kind of positive connection into life, even during lockdown. My teenage daughter and I exchange massages a couple of times a week whilst watching movies. I’ve been teaching Indian Head Massage and Baby Massage courses to families and couples online through KnotStressed Therapies where I wear my other ‘hat’). It’s a lovely way to connect, have fun and bring feel-good, peaceful vibes into the lives of those around me.  

It’s important to feel good about what works and doesn’t work for you. I realised quite early into lockdown that socialising exclusively via Zoom just made me feel more distant from friends and family. I’ve been much happier since remembering that phone calls are also a great medium for connection! Of course, connecting through any interface – whether it’s the phone or computer – will not be as heart-bolstering as seeing people in person and being able to get out and about in daily life. It can be helpful though to feel that you are at least shoring the gaps by doing what you can to access those missing feelings.

You may need to get a bit creative. In the absence of ceremonies, I’ve been focussing on the ‘behind-the-scenes’ part of my role as a celebrant – the script-writing, scroll-making, word-weaving elements. I’ve also been really enjoying painting and sending Oathing Stones to all the couples whose weddings have been postponed due to Covid-19. An Oathing Stone ritual is a sweet way to mark their would-have-been-wedding date and hold the space until their ceremony. This one is for Lucy and Natalie… I’m counting down the days until December when I can lead the ceremony for these two marvellous people and they can make their promises to each other in the company of their friends and family.

It’s clear that there isn’t a right or wrong way to do lockdown. We will all be experiencing our different highs and lows depending on our circumstances and our situation. Whatever you are experiencing during lockdown, I hope that these ramblings might help you to feel good about finding your own unique-to-you solutions to offset those lockdown blues. Stay safe and well.

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