Liz StollsI have become, by necessity, my own news censor during lockdown. It’s not a matter of hiding from the world or burying my head in the sand. It’s more an acceptance of how much knowledge I can handle.

I used to think that those BBC screen warnings of distressing images were rather quaint. Surely, we citizens of the world have a duty to know the facts about what our species is capable of doing and experiencing? Now, however, I have become more self-protective.

Do I really want to read about someone’s nightmare experience in a Covid ICU ward, thereby increasing the likelihood of my drinking tea at 4 a.m., unable to sleep because my throat feels dry?

Do I really want to know the possible long-term effects of the virus, or listen to Boris’s bumbling attempts to talk to the folks in a credible fashion? (I am originally from England ). The current news flow, with its super-charged vocabulary of surges and overwhelming crises, is guaranteed to increase underlying stress levels if I let it.

I don’t want to be taken over by sadness and fear at the physical suffering and uncertainty, or by anger at scenes of Covid deniers flouting safety rules or at some politicians’ inadequate or indecisive responses (I do not include the German government here. I think their actions have been laudable, as have some other international leaders). So I now cherry-pick my news consumption based on my practical need to know.

I am lucky. Some of the money I might have spent on restaurant meals or theatre tickets is now enriching the local bookshops. I keep in touch with my far-flung family and friends via WhatsApp video calls and Zoom, and my housekeeping skills have greatly improved. I now know exactly what’s in that pile of files and papers in the corner (though, distressingly, I have not managed to throw much of it away), plus the top of the wardrobe has finally been cleaned properly!

I do miss going to my local dance workshops and helping teenagers learn English, and all the other social meetings that used to be part of life, but strangely enough the current restrictions have helped me find new ways of relaxing. If I’m not allowed to mix with others then I don’t have to feel bad about what I could or should be doing. I’m now on my third 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle and enjoying the calm concentration it brings. It’s almost like meditation and, apparently, can improve cognition, visual-spatial reasoning, short-term memory and problem-solving abilities. I’m all for that!

Stay well everyone until we meet again.

Liz