Coping with Life after Lockdown
With the government’s four-step roadmap to emerging from lockdown well under way, you may be feeling excited … or apprehensive … or even a mixture of both as restrictions lift.
If you fall into the apprehensive category it’s really important to remember that you are not alone. This is a natural response to what is a very unsettling time. The good news is, there are steps you can take to ease yourself back into ‘normal’ life.
During lockdown we have all had to develop new patterns of behaviour and coping mechanisms. Unlearning these and embracing a different way of being is not something you need to rush. You can take the time to adjust at a pace that’s right for you. And while we may not be able to control external events, we can control the way we react to them.
Some people will be keen to rush back to old routines and activities, while others will be more hesitant and nervous. These are legitimate concerns after everything we have been through, so practising self-acceptance and cultivating compassionate self-talk will really help.
Build up your social connections gradually, starting with the people closest to you and then expanding outwards. It may feel overwhelming to see large groups of people again, so don’t be too hard on yourself if it feels uncomfortable initially. Gradual exposure over a period of time will make it easier for you to learn how to reconnect with the world. And it’s worth persevering - that sense of belonging and connectedness is vital to our emotional health.
We’ve all had to adjust to periods of considerable change at very short notice over the last twelve months, and it seems likely that this uncertainty will continue. As much as it may be tempting to make long-term plans, staying focused on the present and short-term future will help you manage your expectations and avoid disappointment in the event of further changes.
Finally, making time for self-care will give you the chance to switch off anxious feelings and develop the skill of moving yourself into a state of calm. Focusing on your breath, practising mindfulness and meditation, yoga or self hypnosis are all excellent ways of doing this.
This article first appeared in the New Stour & Avon Magazine on 7 May 2021.