Tips for Easing Out of Lockdown
Earlier this year, when the Coronavirus pandemic peaked and entire nations were forced indoors to quarantine, the main consideration was how to survive lockdown. But with restrictions now easing all over the world, the new challenge is how to reintegrate back into “real life.” Some of us have school aged children and are negotiating their re-entry to class; others are employees wondering how to stay safe when returning to the office; and some of us can’t quite remember what life pre-lockdown even looked like! If you’re surprised by how difficult coming out of lockdown seems, read on for some practical ways to take those first baby steps.
Be patient with yourself
As people start to talk more about their post-lockdown plans, it’s difficult to know how to feel. If you’re anxious about getting on with old routines, be patient with yourself and realise that it’s OK to feel uncertain. While some people will naturally feel excited about regaining old freedoms and connecting with loved ones, others may feel nervous, frightened about health risks and worried about new challenges the lockdown has brought. The most important thing is to understand that the pandemic has been enormously stressful, and it’s OK to take time to find your feet or adjust. Have patience and self-compassion during the transition.
Re-establish any connections that have suffered during lockdown
Humans are social creatures and derive enormous stress relief, joy, and a sense of purpose in connecting with others, but it’s understandable that stressful times have made it a challenge to keep in touch. Now may be the best time to reach out and gently re-establish important relationships.
Leaders in home elderly care Helping Hands have seen the difficult effects of lockdown firsthand, and they know that people are feeling ambivalent about visiting older relatives. “The incubation period for Covid-19 can be up to 14 days, so an infected person may not show any symptoms for up to two weeks,” they say. “Naturally, many people feel extremely upset about being unable to visit their older relatives for an unknown amount of time. However, it’s important to remember that this rule is in place to protect the health of the elderly.”
Though it’s still necessary to avoid contact with elderly or vulnerable family members, now might be a good time to check in and re-commit to clever ways of staying in touch. While you’re at it, you might consider reaching out to old friends and family who you may have neglected a little during lockdown. Stat small with a phone call or Skype chat if you’re not confident meeting in person yet.
Seek support if you need it
In trying to cope with work disruptions, a potentially chaotic home situation and delays and interruptions in almost every area of life, it’s understandable that many people have put their mental health on the back burner. Now, with a faint light at the end of the tunnel, the prospect of less stress can ironically have us feeling overwhelmed by issues we haven’t had the opportunity to properly address.
Take the time to figure out what TLC you need to get back on your feet after lockdown, particularly if childcare, work or relationship strains have been taking their toll. Commit to doing things you know you enjoy, take enough time to rest, or seeking the help of an online counsellor or therapist.
Establish routines again
Suddenly, so many “normal” activities seem quite frightening, like attending group events, going on public transport or shopping. Psychologists call this stress “re-entry syndrome”, and the best way to combat it is to gently keep encouraging yourself to get back into normal routines.
Trauma can leave us feeling apprehensive, and weeks in isolation may mean we have a lower threshold for socialising. Take small steps and understand that you’ll need stress management techniques to put anxiety in perspective. Stay positive by focusing on the good things, practicing meditation, or do a quick visualisation before you have to leave the house. It will get better with time!
Finally, one of the best ways to ease the transition out of lockdown is to channel anxieties into something practical. There’s a lot we can all do to keep in tip-top shape – low stress means a stronger immune system, and exercise is still one of the best ways to alleviate low mood. Commit to eating well, sleeping enough, and taking care of yourself in these strange and challenging times. You’ll be able to better face an uncertain and stressful future if you feel resilient and relaxed.
About the Author
Chloe Walker is a 20 something freelance writer, currently writing about topics relating to mental health and wellbeing. She first started writing about this subject after seeing the effects of social media on the younger generation and hopes that by writing about this topic it will help to diffuse the stigma based around it.
You can get in touch with Chloe via email on firstname.lastname@example.org