Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

Lockdown: a time for our vices to run wild?

CW: mental health and discussion of difficult relationships with food

At this point, lockdown’s profound effect on people’s wellbeing is well documented. Whether it is the physical toll or the mental strain, lockdown has had people in the throes of distress. Though things such as loneliness have been rightly discussed during these unprecedented times, the impact that lockdown has had on our vices and people’s inner demons seem to be a topic that’s seldom examined overtly. Struggles with mental health and isolation have allowed for our vices to go unfettered due to the lack of variety or healthy distractions in our lives. 

These unpleasant habits are ones we contend with irrespectively, but lockdown facilitates unbridled engagement with such weaknesses in our character. Personally, this time has been challenging with my relationship with food. I cannot count the times I have used UberEats or reinstalled it after deleting it, just to order some food out of boredom or laziness.

Vices like anger and indolence have emerged for me too. Concerning the former especially, with the common frustrations that arise from these circumstances and their consequences, many people’s patience has worn thin.

This time also allows for new vices to emerge

Such habits can have a negative knock-on effect – ordering fast-food may lead to indolence due to digestion, which may fuel anger or even self-loathing at oneself due to succumbing to such unhealthy behaviour.

Of course, many people have these addictions and struggle with their unsavoury habits too. It has been recently reported that one in three people have increased their alcohol consumption. Social isolation has also encouraged drug usage, and those who have crippling addictions with pornography, for example, may slide back into old habits. This can damage approaches to romantic relationships as well as disruption to daily activities and duties. 

This time also allows for new vices to emerge. My laziness has been more pervasive in completing work. Lockdown has blended the environments of work and play in that we are expected to conduct work in areas and times associated with relaxation. I’m typically most productive away from my comfort zone. 

The limited exercise options are especially disheartening

These are ideal circumstances for vices to reign supreme; you’re inclined to procrastinate since you recognise your bedroom is for unwinding, especially during evening hours. This bleeds into our attempts to get our dopamine kicks through exercising, for instance. Conjuring up the motivation to do home workouts or body exercises is a mission given the associations with comfort the home has.

The limited exercise options are especially disheartening for those who prefer lifting or exercise machinery at the gym. Like work, the lack of designated spaces for exercise has led many people’s routines to go haywire, which may contribute to idleness, resulting in our unpleasant habits to come to the fore. 

Moreover, the isolation from being in lockdown has enabled people’s vices concerning attention and validation to amplify. Dating apps have reaped the benefits of this since apps like tinder and hinge have skyrocketed during Covid. However, many people use these apps as a means for boosting their egos. The attention and affection of genuine people can be manipulated, potentially harming them mentally and emotionally, particularly those unfamiliar with the dating game’s grim realities like ghosting. 

Our engagement with our vices is more concentrated now

It is not to say that these truths in human behaviour would not happen without a lockdown. Still, it is clear that loneliness and the restrictions on human behaviour have encouraged the prevalence of such instances. The ample time we have enables us to dwell or even rationalise them too.

If things were normal, our bad inclinations would be more manageable. They could be mediated, ignored, or muted more successfully. However, our engagement with our vices is more concentrated now, and with the turbulent year that has gone, our natural defences are not as strong as they used to be.

Admittedly, those who kept on the straight-and-narrow or were able to adapt to their routines effectively should be commended. Nevertheless, it’s important that we remember that many of us have struggled with our inner demons – you are not alone.

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