When asked to write about how the lockdown has affected me, I thought about being positive and saying that I am managing, which I am to varying levels of success. But I don’t think that would be very helpful. Instead I want to tell you about the negatives, and how I am managing them.

First of all, I want to provide some context to my situation. Like many readers, I am working from home and have a nice, though messy office space. But where I may differ is that I live alone. Now this is not all bad, but it does come with a few issues. First off, living alone means there’s no one to motivate you to get out and explore or otherwise push your boundaries, no one whose enthusiasm you can bounce off of. Second, you have to actively make an effort to engage in conversation – to decide to phone a friend and hope they are not busy. This can be hard to do, especially when you aren't feeling particularly motivated.

In the past few weeks, I have noticed that my friends are less likely to message back, and the regular social catchup and games nights have been cancelled three times in a row. I am self-aware enough to notice this is causing me to think negatively. Here a few key thoughts I have, and my responses.

“Is this worth the effort?”

Yes it is worth the effort – it feels great to connect to others. A falling out with one group doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy the individual company or have fun with another group.

“I only have to endure this a bit longer, so is there any point trying to feel better about myself?”

It’s always worth feeling better about yourself. Don’t try and endure the feelings of loneliness or anxiety, be active in pursuing activities and connections with others. It is hard, I won’t say otherwise. There are professionals who can help you with this, but you need to take the first step.

“Others have it worse than me, so there’s no reason to feel this way.”

Just because you ‘feel’ others have it worse, doesn’t mean the issues you are going through are any less valid. Besides, it’s natural to want to improve ourselves – you shouldn’t harm your own wellbeing just because others may feel worse.

I think it's important to understand your friends are all going through the same thing. Perhaps the cause of an un-replied message is, “I left this message for a day – maybe they won't want to talk to me anymore”, or maybe they saw it and wanted to reply after finishing writing a section of a report but forgot.

Your problems aren’t any less valid than anyone else’s. This is true even before the lockdown and isolation. These past weeks have only made these feelings easier to see in yourself, and allowed people to be more open about how they feel. I hope all of you who identify with what I've said feel a bit less isolated knowing I feel the same way. We can pull through this, not by enduring what we feel, but by actively improving how we feel about ourselves.

More information

Wellbeing support for engineers

Covid-19 tips for engineers

This article was originally written by Warren Uys, Young Engineers Manawatu Chair, for the Manawatu Branch newsletter. Warren is an environmental engineer at Good Earth Matters. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

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