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Sarah-Bolton-Howard - teal circleBARCELONA: At the cosmopolitan capital of Spain's Catalonia region, the streets are empty as the city goes into lockdown to halt the spread of the coronavirus. Sarah, Global Branding Expert at Partners in Performance, has been keeping a journal since the lockdown began, and below she shares her tips for staying safe and well while on lockdown…

 


 

Deserted streets in Barcelona

Living in Barcelona, we have been in total lockdown since mid-March. This experience has been quite surreal – four-lane highways, normally full of traffic, are totally empty. The beaches are closed, and all outdoor sports are banned. There are no longer any tourists visiting Gaudi buildings or experiencing Spanish tapas. I can’t even do my regular running (one of my passions is running marathons). The only places left open are local food shops and pharmacies. We must always remain inside.

Luckily, we have a large loft apartment and a sunny roof terrace, but for those living in a small flat without outdoor access and small children, this experience must be a massive challenge. How have we found the total lockdown so far? Here are my six top-line thoughts:

 

Home is our safe haven

Despite the thought of being confined to one place for days on end with no social interaction, it has surprised me how we have rapidly adapted to our new way of living. Our home is our new safe haven, our cocoon away from what has been going on across Spain and the world; the few times we go out to the food store, it feels safe and secure to come back into our home – far more than I have ever experienced before.

 

Bleach has become our close friendNew best friend - a bucket of bleach

We have become obsessed with cleaning. Just before we went into lockdown in Spain, I read a blog from someone in Italy, who are just a week ahead of us on this. I thought what she said at the time was over-the-top, but now I realise that her comments about sanitation are 100% correct. So, we completely bleach all hard floors, outer doors and handles each day. We meticulously clean down work surfaces each morning with disinfectant spray. We have shoes for ‘outdoors’ (which stay outside our front door) that are dipped in bleach when we return each time. We make sure we always use plastic gloves when going outside, and we have even opted to cashless payments.

 

Getting dressed for work

There is a debate raging in France on ‘what to wear’ in lockdown. In a country where style is key and a passion for many, some are arguing

 that this is an opportunity to express your real self in pyjamas or jogging bottoms, unkempt hair and no make-up. Others argue that you must continue as if you were going to the office and retain a sense of pride. I personally feel that it helps to make an effort each morning and try to look good. It’s easy to fall into a routine of coping in pyjamas but I believe you don’t perform as well.

Exercise is a must-do

It has become a challenge. I am a long-distance runner and train regularly - we use the gym a lot, do yoga and Spinning. Suddenly our 10,000+ steps (Fitbit) a day, which was once so easy to achieve, are gone. My advice? Decide how you are going to handle this and make a plan. The past week I have made sure that I do 30 minutes of hardcore exercises each morning, and next week I plan to join a virtual gym. There is a guy in Toulouse, France who has run a marathon on his 25 m2 roof terrace, so maybe that will be my plan before this all ends!

 

MPaella made by our neighbour - from across the fenceake the weekends different

Create a distinction between the working week and weekend, to retain some resemblance of ‘normality’.  Don’t let them aimlessly roll into one. I’ve decided my joggers and hoodie are only for Saturday and Sunday. Also, we’ve had a ‘special’ dinner (little treats) at the weekend... we even had a spontaneous "Paella rooftop al fresco" with our neighbour from across the fence! Fresh fish and cheese; keeping pasta, risotto etc. for the weeknights.  This has given a little boost at the end of the week.

 

Keeping in visible touch with friends

Surprisingly, we have adapted fast to our new existence. We have had ‘virtual apero’ with friends on Zoom. I had my first thesis ‘buddy group’ session on Thursday evening, helping each other on the journey to our Masters, which will now be a regular weekly slot. We’ve watched some great stuff on Netflix and other channels and found new ways to stay close to family. It has actually been an opportunity to catch up with people who I haven’t had the chance to since arriving in Barcelona.

When this is all over, our lives will have been changed fundamentally and what we knew before will seem a bit strange. But I can assure you we are doing fine. We have plenty of supplies and have a good routine going. 

More tips to come your way…

Sarah 

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