Lockdown has been hard for loads of many people, with restrictions and being ‘cooped up’ stripping us of control, freedom and lots more. It’s certainly heightened anxieties.
My friends are mostly in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs and I’m in the Northern Beaches so we haven’t been able to see each other, and my family are all in the UK and Spain. As a highly collaborative person who thrives on human connection and interaction, being away from my usual support network has definitely been a struggle.
My name is Lisa, I’m a 36-year-old originally hailing from the UK. I’ve lived in Sydney for nearly 13 years, and I had my 5-year-old son Albie here.
Throughout lockdown, I’ve relied heavily on apps to fill the need for interaction with people. I met my boyfriend on an app, formed partnerships via apps, learnt how to manage my mental health on an app and even created an app myself.
I Created an App
The COVID era started in an interesting way for me. In March 2020, I landed in Spain to spend time with my Mum and Granny. Only two days after I arrived, the European lockdown hit Spain. We were housebound with our flights home to Australia cancelled.
The initial moments of panic and fear are still vivid in my mind but I was safe with a loving family and a full pantry. I was very grateful to be with Mum and Granny.
As I sat in the safety of my mother’s home, I realised how lucky I was and how difficult this whole experience would be for a huge number of people who didn’t have access to this safety net I was afforded. It got me thinking — what would I have done if my grandmother didn’t have support?
This was the catalyst for me to build One Another — a social kindness app that connects communities via acts of kindness. It’s free to use and enables people to help one another in times of need. Walking a pet, picking up groceries or even offering pro-bono support for small businesses, the opportunities for connection and the ripple effects of kindness are endless.
I wanted to help make a difference for those in our communities who need support and a helping hand. I didn’t want people to feel alone during the pandemic and beyond.
I Met My Boyfriend on an App
I met my partner online on the dating app Hinge 12 months ago, which was a wonderful surprise.
I had been separated from my son’s dad for 18 months and after the initial lockdown in 2020, I went to Byron with my girlfriend for a holiday. I hadn’t been on a date for six months and decided to download Hinge and throw myself back into the online dating game.
On my Hinge profile, I said that the quality I look for most in a partner is kindness, and Marcel liked that, plus he seemed lovely from our online chats. Luckily, it wasn’t a hard lockdown at first so we were able to carefully meet up. We went paddleboarding for our first date at our local beach Fairlight and clicked immediately. That was 12 months ago.
It has been hard due to lockdown and unusual circumstances throughout this time. We’ve focused on quality time over quantity (after an intense six months where we spent almost every day together). We make an effort to do special dates and make each other feel special.
I Improved My Mental Health Via an App
When I was building the One Another platform with an amazing team of pro bono volunteers, there were many occasions that I felt burned out, felt like it wasn’t going to happen, or just plain frustrated. A friend told me about Driven resilience training, which provides tools to train yourself and others to become more resilient.
When I first signed up for the Driven app, I learned that there are different areas you can strengthen — reasoning, vision, tenacity, collaboration, health and composure — to build overall resilience.
I was prompted to take a survey and figure out what areas I could improve on. I scored well on the ‘health’ element, including diet, exercise and sleep, but my ‘composure’ is lacking. This means I find it hard to regulate my emotions during stressful situations. Driven shares daily activities to train me to stay calm and in control when under pressure. I’ve started regularly meditating twice a day (nighttime and after lunch), and I have learnt some techniques for stress management and emotion regulation. It’s made me realise so much about myself, and allowed me to proactively work on areas of my mental health that are vulnerable.
I Made New Professional Partnerships on an App
I found my groove with LinkedIn and created so many partnerships and mentor relationships over lockdown. I’ve connected with a network of incredible women leaders and we now meet every Thursday on Zoom. Comparing stories and ideas with these wonderful people has helped get me through.
While it’s been a struggle dealing with lots of change, it’s amazing how we’ve adapted to this lifestyle. I’ve tried to make the most of it with Zoom dinners, quizzes and online drinks. I’ve even had a virtual baby shower for a friend — you make it work.
I’ve also cut down on drinking and have been walking 10,000 steps a day and I read a book for 20 minutes before bed, rather than be on my phone. Drinking three litres of water a day has made a massive difference to productivity and my skin. Simple improvements to my lifestyle have worked wonders.
I share custody of my son Albie with my ex-partner, which enables me to have time to recharge and be a more present mum when we are together.
This period has made me realise how vulnerable yet how adaptive we can be, and how we’re social beings… so those in-person catch-ups will be extra sweet when they eventually happen.