Life after Lockdown
Being in lockdown has been a challenging experience for many of us. As movements are now being made towards easing restrictions completely and people are starting to talk about what things might look like, it is completely normal to feel worried about life after lockdown.
Whilst plenty are fantasising about diving headfirst into a sweaty, crowded dance floor and hugging their friends, others are feeling more apprehensive at the thought of readjusting to life after lockdown.
You may be worried about using public transport, seeing people from other households, or going back into University or your part-time job, for example.
Is it normal to feel worried about lockdown ending and 'normal' life returning?
Going back to ‘new’ old routines will feel unusual and can even make us fearful, anxious, frustrated, angry or nervous. It's important to try and understand our now-established patterns of thinking, behaving, and feeling.
Throughout the pandemic, we've developed new habits in response to keeping safe with the increased threat of COVID, as well as managing our expectations and emotions when it comes to lack of social contact and pre-COVID opportunities, such as travelling and exploring our interests.
If you’re feeling this way, please just know that you aren't alone and secondly, there are steps you can take to make this transitional process feel less daunting.
Here's how to cope with fears surrounding life after lockdown:
- Don’t try to recreate the past You’re stepping into a new normal. Nothing is exactly the way it once was. You can never recreate something that has already passed, so don’t try to; it’ll only make you frustrated. You can and will create your own new normal.
- Slowly bring back your ‘old’ healthy routines Many of us are now used to a new way of life, whether that’s studying from home or spending more time indoors than we used to. Establishing your old routine and way of life, such as heading to bed or waking up earlier, as soon as you can will help ease you back into things.
- Stress will hinder your judgement Stress does absolutely nothing for you. It hinders your sense of judgement. It prevents you from being able to use your mind to your full potential because stress throws you right back into survival mode again.
- Manage stress with meditation In many professional opinions, meditiation is the best thing you can do for your mind. Start right now and train yourself to let go and be still. This will allow your mind to rest and refuel. There are lots of apps to teach you the basics, such as Headspace. Meditation will teach you to let go of any feeling you no longer need or want. It will help create space in your mind for new possibilities.
- Accept you cannot control everything You may not go straight to exactly where you want to be with your life after lockdown and that’s absolutely fine! It’s not a race, there is no finish line. Take events as they come, and don’t take too much on at once. Your behaviour and the way you express yourself is intrinsically linked to your mindset and attitude. Set yourself up for life after lockdown by simply putting one foot in front of the other, and moving on at a pace you’re comfortable with. Don’t rush. You don’t need to. Focus on the opportunities you do have.
- Things take time Don’t forget that we have all been living in unprecedented times and the way we used to live our lives has been completely turned upside down. Be kind to yourself as lockdown restrictions begin to lift, and remember that it will take time for things to return to the ‘new normal’.
- Create to a healthy lifestyle Creating a positive routine that includes exercise and getting fresh air, healthy food, sleep, asking for help when necessary and maintaining social connections and communicating with people is a good idea. These ‘ingredients’ haven't changed, and will be key to mental health and wellbeing post-lockdown, just as much as they were during and before. Not relying on unhealthy habits for a mood boost is also important. For some, these lifestyle choices might have slipped in lockdown, so taking this opportunity to reset can be crucial.
- Trust yourself Ultimately, a lot of our anxieties come from not actually trusting that we have it within us to be OK. You absolutely do. Nobody else holds that much power over you: not your parents; not your partner, not even your house pet. Your biggest challenge is actually letting go of the belief that you aren’t capable of something. Learn to trust your gut; it’s tougher and smarter than you think. Don’t underestimate how powerful your mind is.
Life after lockdown is a chance to reset. It’s unlikely we’ll ever get an opportunity like this again. Don’t wish it away; look for the silver lining because there is one for everyone!