Wellbeing

Andrea McLean: “I Am More Grateful Than I Have Ever Been”

Our new columnist and Loose Women presenter tells us what she’s been missing and the pleasures she’s discovered during lockdown

Inever thought I’d miss going out. I am one of these strange people who likes being at home – it’s my favourite place to be and I’m with people I’ve chosen to be with, so what’s not to like? I’m the one who grumbles about nights out, bails at the last minute (apologies to every one of my friends) and heads home early just as things are getting interesting.

But, the other day I was out for my walk, getting my daily dose of fresh air with the dog and my husband. We passed a local pub. It’s not even a pub I like, it’s an ‘it’ll do’ pub, a bit plastic, with no character and a little bit too intimidating to go into on your own as a woman. One of those pubs. As we walked past it I felt a pang, a genuine pang, of want. I really, really wanted a glass of cold white wine and a packet of crisps. I wanted to sit at a slightly sticky table and listen to terrible pop music through tinny speakers. What has happened to me?! It made me think; what other random things have I missed during our time in lockdown that I never thought I would?

Going to the gym: I miss chatting to the woman behind the desk about what she wants to do with her life – now I’ll never know if she manages to one day travel the world.

Meeting up with friends after work, talking about our day, putting off going home for that ‘little bit longer…’

Going for walks and not panicking like someone out of The Walking Dead every time I see someone walking towards me.

An extreme reaction I know, but everyone where I live seems to look at me in exactly the same way. It was nice when we just used to ignore each other, like in the good old days.

But here’s the thing; there have also been some self-discoveries made during these strangest of times. I’ve also found some things that I’ve loved, that I never would have even known about had I not been forced to stay in my home.

I now have my own office, something I’ve longed for. OK, it’s not actually an office, but I have made a little corner of our bedroom into a little oasis of ‘me-ness’ and claimed it as my own. I put my step-daughter’s dressing table under our bedroom window (sorry, Sienna) and stole my daughter’s dressing table chair (sorry, Amy). I have placed my favourite crystals on the window sill (rose quartz and Himalayan rock salt, if you’re interested). I light my aromatherapy candle every day as I sit down to work (peppermint and clove) to boost my creativity. I shut the door. I savour the quiet and the view that I have never really noticed before. This space is all mine.

I LOVE not having to rush anywhere. I have found a pace that works for me, I’m setting my own deadlines. If I don’t get them done in that time frame, then I’ve accepted that it’s not the end of the world. It’s cool, I can do it tomorrow.

My garden is the most beautiful place on earth. It’s not very big, and I am desperate to get some more flowers, but it has brought me so much joy over the past couple of months. I’ve loved taking a coffee break in the sun, gradually peeling off my slippers and jumper to enjoy the heat, listening to the birds and the neighbours’ children. It’s made me feel still.

I’ve loved getting to know our neighbours more. I’ve always known they were nice, but we’ve not really engaged that much. Now, we come out of our homes every Thursday to applaud the two nurses and the fireman who live on our street, banging saucepans and clapping. We stay to hear them tell us about their week and hear first-hand how things are in a way that newspapers and television never do. We stay safely apart, but we feel so together.

I am more grateful than I have ever been, and I take the time to feel it every day and I encourage the H&W readers to do the same. For the weather; the sun that has helped our mood, the rain that has watered my plants. For the people who have kept us steadily going. For my children, for just getting on with it and accepting what is, with very little moaning about what isn’t. For my health. For my mind, which hasn’t spiralled into overwhelm as I was concerned it might, but has stayed focused on the things I can control rather than the things I can’t. It’s the little things that we miss and we love. And they have never meant so much.

Health & Wellbeing