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  • jane anderson

Are You Home-stitutionalised?

Updated: Jan 11, 2021

Tired of domesticity but apprehensive about going out? Worried that you've lost your social nerve? Distinctly uncomfortable in proper work clothes?

If the answer is yes to any or all of the above, you've probably become home-stitutionalised like many of us who've been cooped up for the last few eon-months. Without recourse to real-life interaction apart from the family or housemates, you’ve morphed and gelled into a Borg-like entity within your hive enclosure, eating the same old food, watching much the same telly. Even arguments have become repetitive.

Those who live and work alone may have mutated into strange half-desk half-human creatures, incapable of proper human intercourse and accepting stop-start speech and jerk-like movements inculcated from various screens as the natural way of things now.

Pecking rather than eating may have become your preferred eating style and quick visits to the doorstep to collect foodstuffs from a masked delivery person, pretty much your only real-life contact.

We’re all together in this unasked-for self-sufficiency. But surprisingly, re-engagement with the outside world has turned out to be something of a push-pull affair. I’m just not tumbling out the door for a coffee the way I thought I would be, even now I can.

Over the past third of a year my quite aged parents have, with a bit of distanced family help, upended half of their small urban garden and planted an organic veg patch. Right now, they’re eating the fruit and veg of their labours; strawberries, beans, tatties and courgettes. The produce is tasty and nutritious and of course, easy to access.

This was thinking ahead on their part, being concerned about the duration of their curfew and also what might happen with food in the future given the extraordinary happenings of recent months. Apart from their off-grid wild white hair and shabby gardening clothes, they are probably more fit and able than most people of their age and many younger.

They are used to not going out now. People visit them and sit at a distance in their little back garden. I’m getting the same way myself. Kind of want to break out there but don’t at the same time. Home is OK. Home is safe. People pass by and chat while I’m cutting the grass. I see people I know during my walks and have become friendlier with the kids next door, probably because of my cake making and sharing.

I’ve taken to long relaxed telephone conversations in the old land-line style, and occasional Zoomy chats with friends and colleagues. I own-work at home anyway so nothing much has changed there. Exercise is a cinch: I toss down my yoga mat and pop up my laptop and Pilates-Am-I.

Home is nice and clean too. The garden is tidy and prettier than I’ve ever had time to make it before. New skills learned include how to fit a toilet seat, sorting out the strimmer string thing, taking cuttings that grow, testing a variety of homemade window cleaning solutions, podcasting (in its infancy – RadioWellbeing here I come).

Not least of my achievements and perhaps most challenging has been shouldering the role of neighbourhood Brown Bin Coordinater. People now look to me for when to put out the garden rubbish. I check the council website, reference the last umpteen sets of circulated dates, take an educated stab at it and wheelie it out to grateful nods and thumbs up from neighbours who follow suit. Respect, apparently.

So, I’ve emerged from home-stitutionalisation to a mindset of settled and grateful and more capable at home. I’m used to things this way now although I’d argue this is not so much a comfort zone as adaptation and acceptance. Of course we all have to pry ourselves outsde eventually but I’m in no hurry. Not until my tooth starts playing up again anyway. Yanking out my own molar is one DIY skill too far for me.

Jane Anderson PhD specialises in Sociospacial Reciprocity and Place Therapy. She's been working in wellbeing for nigh on 30 years and is especially interested in the people-place relationship and how it underpins all other aspects of staff engagement and wellbeing. Her Staff Wellbeing Framework Model is now charter-marked for quality assurance. / 07742942651

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