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GMOPN lockdown stories

We understand that this is a time of uncertainty and worry for many people, however there are lots of things that you can do to try to help your wellbeing.

See some of the stories from GMOPN members on how they addressing their wellbeing and adapting in lockdown. If you would like to share any of your own tips then please let us know by emailing [email protected] or phone 0161 834 9823.

Carole's story

I’ve got it all laid out in a nice pie chart, so I know exactly what I’m doing. Routine is the thing! Time to get up and go to bed. Time for exercise and housework, time for that essential daily walk - even time, every other day, for making bread. So it’s all under control in our house. Me, rather arthritic and creaky, my lovely artistic and autistic son, and the cat, basically a psychotic old bat out for the main chance; we all have this lockdown thing taped. Well, sort of. Not quite so easy though, is it? Plenty of time in the day, but not quite enough energy in the day, even with the welcome lunchtime nap. I find myself balancing ‘things to do’ with ‘energy and motivation to do things’, as well as coping with the ups and downs of arthritis. All these don’t always play nicely together.

There’s t’Internet, of course. Facebook. A black hole into which lots of the time just vanishes. I’m really up on weighted blankets, gadgets for cat-toys, slightly crackers posts from people I hardly know, ‘aah’ videos of kittens, and friend requests from Indonesia. And the online Guardian, bless it. Not too much of that, though, or I get spooked. I’ve stopped watching the TV news, too. Better that way.

And talking about friends, the lockdown demands that we keep in touch in other ways. I love my friends, so I want to make contact by phone, text and email (too much of a Luddite for all these newfangled platforms). So the phone rings just as I’ve got the Marigolds plunged into the washing up. Or one of the wonderful volunteers calls for a shopping list. And how can you possibly complain about that?

And then there’s all the extra work caused by the blasted virus itself – sanitizing, checking, wiping down the worktops when fresh shopping has been dumped; and the letters, even – open envelope, get rid of envelope, wash hands, sanitize whatever the envelope has touched, wash hands again. Agonising about who will get our next lot of groceries, or fetch the latest prescription. Just learning how to do this new way of life. It all takes time. But then there’s the nice stuff. Reading books from the free electronic library on my tablet; doing my jigsaw with some good music on the radio; doing a bit in my little garden when the achy knees allow; chatting with my son and reading the stories he writes. The short walk in the afternoon. Sometimes, I’m lucky enough to chat over the wall to my neighbour, making sure to keep our distance. There’s even the TV in the evenings, with a nice cuppa. I wonder how on earth people fit in the big projects, decorating, remodelling the garden, writing a book.

Creativity is good, of course. Photography is an old hobby, and somehow there’s just not quite enough puff for that at the moment. Writing is fun – I’ve written poetry all my life, and my writing group has survived online. I do like knitting, but even the cat wouldn’t wear the end product.
But if we get really stuck for something to do, there’s always pandering to the cat. That always goes down well.


Gill's story

It was bad enough being over 70 and declared vulnerable but at least I could drive down to the shops, get the food I needed and go out for a walk or even a drive if I wanted, but when I received a text saying I’d been identified as extremely vulnerable and must stay at home for 12 weeks I thought someone was having me on! However, the text was followed up by a letter stressing I mustn’t leave my house and garden for 12 weeks. I was devastated, I cried, I contemplated the end, I saw myself as no use to anyone. Then I spoke with my son, my grandchildren, and my friends in Rotary. They all metaphorically gathered around me offering help and I suddenly realised I would be alright.

More than being alright I realised being at home wasn’t the end. I could still do things to help others if we all worked together. Friends let me know of small businesses now delivering. I tried them, learned how to do a bank transfer on my new banking app and then spread the word to others in the same position. I established a list of people I knew were isolated and resolved to keep in regular touch by phone, email or What’s App.

Before long there was a group exchanging funny videos and memes or simply chatting. Contacts that I’d developed over years started to use me to let people know about things that could be done for charity such as knitting hearts. The local food bank was struggling and I was able through my Rotary contacts to organise a cheque for over £600 to keep them going. I’ve realised I may be stuck in the house but I can still be a conduit to doing worthwhile things and do you know, there aren’t enough hours in the day!

Jan's story

Keeping Fit?… OK I’ll settle for keeping flexible!

We’re all six weeks into this social distancing lark and, I don’t know about you, but the novelty has well and truly worn off for me. I’m a naturally fit and active person but I’m no gym bunny. I used to attend two classes a week of exercise for over 50s and very enjoyable they were too. All that stopped overnight in March and we were all told we should walk, cycle or run from our homes once a day. Suddenly, The Green Goddess (80 year old Diana Moran) was all over the television giving us exactly the same exercises she did 40 years ago. All that lycra put me off then and still does, well that’s my excuse. So, what was I to do?

I scoured YouTube and Facebook to find every personal trainer regularly posting free keep fit videos. If you are already fit and flexible PE with Joe every morning seems motivational. Then again when a video starts “OK guys, let’s do this!” it puts me off as much as Diana’s lycra! For the first couple of weeks I settled for walking. For those able to get out the weather was perfect, but what if you are shielding? By definition a high intensity workout won’t be feasible.

Even those that claim to be low intensity go at a pace I sometimes struggle to maintain. So I searched again and found Mike, an Australian (of course!) Seniors' Specialist Physiotherapist and Exercise Scientist. His videos are mainly seated flexibility moves demonstrated at a pace that can be followed. https://morelifehealth.com/

It can be difficult at times to stay consistent. Sometimes you feel good, other times not so good and everything but the exercise gets done. But that's ok! This happens to everyone. We just need to find a way to make it easier, and when it's easier, it's more likely to be done more often. This means great results! So, what's a way to make it easier?.. Do less! Doing small amounts of exercise consistently is going to get you greater results than more exercise only done every now and then.

This article is my personal journey and does not offer fitness or medical advice. It does not reflect any views or advice by GMOPN. I hope you find it interesting and maybe helpful



My coffee comfort in the lockdown

My story starts with my very large coffee maker, all black 19 inches high, 10 inches wide in my small kitchen. When I first got it I thought it was far too big but my lovely daughter Joan insisted on buying it when she visited me from America. I thought, where can it go? What cupboard will it fit in?

However my negative thoughts about this coffee machine soon changed when I realised I can’t go out anymore for my favourite coffee and scone from Marks and Spencer. Out came the coffee maker and the coffee that my lovely daughter Joan had left for me in the freezer. Who would have thought that a simple coffee machine would have become my salvation? You might laugh, but it’s so true.

I now find myself looking forward to my coffee in the morning and it helps me to get out of bed. You must realise, I used to be an avid tea drinker, but now decaf coffee is my favourite. I now feel so much better than I did about my coffee maker. Who would have thought I would appreciate it so much? Maybe you have something like this in your house? Something that you find yourself appreciating more during the lockdown?

May your year be filled with magic and dreams of good madness. I hope you read some fine books! You might not be able to kiss or hug someone who thinks you’re wonderful but don’t forget you can still make some beautiful art – maybe write a poem or draw a picture or even sing a song. I keep finding myself singing songs from many years ago before I go to sleep. I hope somewhere in the next year you will surprise yourself! I’m trying to see the positives as much as possible, I keep reminding myself of how much money I must be saving now that I can’t go out for a scone and coffee at the Marks and Spencers Café. I hope everyone is keeping safe and taking care. Much love, Elizabeth.



Bridging the Gap

With the arrival of the coronavirus we were told nothing would ever be the same again and that we all had to change. I’ve thought a lot about change. How would I change? Could I change? As I am a dyed in the wool oldie. Then a second shock arrived – the network could only meet via Zoom.

Zoom was a new word to me. It was a love song in the 70’s, I remember that. The dictionary says it means impact, to move rapidly. I didn’t like the sound of that at all. When my granddaughter phoned later in the day, she asked did I have any meetings this week. I explained about zoom. “Oh good” she said, “I’m glad you know about zoom!” Shamefacedly I admitted that I don’t. I cannot use the net. “Don’t worry,” she said, “I will teach you!”

Laughingly I said “will you teach me as a three year old?” And that is exactly what she did. With great patience and understanding she said it will be alright. The next day through my letterbox my homework arrived. A four page letter of step by step lessons on joining a zoom meeting plus two later phone lessons. Change has come. You’re never too old to learn or change, is now my new motto. Bridging the gap between young and old has arrived.