Remember way back in March 2020?
When we first went into lockdowns of various sorts?
It was so surreal and uncomfortable.
And now, here we are, in the UK at least, with significant lockdown easing.
And it doesn’t feel surreal, but it is definitely not comfortable.
The truth is that even people that have been itching to get back out into the world are going to find aspects of the change difficult. And people that have found significant benefits to lockdown may find it even harder.
If you are in the former camp you may not notice the toll that such a big change takes on you. Because the joy of interacting with other people will mask the ways in which your normal responses to change are affecting you.
How a positive change can be difficult: even if you are loving it, don’t ignore your needs
It’s important to be mindful that even when a change feels good, you may need to take extra special care of yourself until the change becomes the norm.
This is because we are habitual creatures that are hard-wired for routine. So when our patterns change, we inevitably need a period of adjustment. Even if we love the changes we’re experiencing, they may still be tiring, emotionally overwhelming and disorientating.
Getting back out into the world and reconnecting (within sensible limits) will be of massive benefit to your mood and your emotional well-being. But be aware that as you adjust you may feel low or anxious or exhausted at times. We all will. The key is to enjoy the positive changes, and to make sure that you provide yourself with some extra TLC. Check out the tips at the end of the post for some tips on how to take the best care of yourself.
If you aren’t quite ready for lockdown to end
Not everyone is going to be thrilled about the changes. For one it might not feel safe yet, and experience has told us that mass re-opening has significant effects on virus cases. So we should practice some caution and be sensible. And much as the beginning of lockdown brought fear and apprehension, it makes perfect sense that the end of lockdown brings similar fears and apprehensions.
The pandemic has brought uncertainty, deaths and huge changes in circumstances so you might not being feeling sharp and sociable just because the rules have changed.
You should take it slow, be safe, honour your feelings. But make sure that you reconnect with what and who is meaningful outside your own four walls, even if that needs to be slow and steady and not a rush for the nearest beer garden.
How to look after yourself during a change process (pandemic specific, but also applies at other times)
I groan a bit when I hear the phrase "self-care". It's over-used and under-explained. Realistically self-care is about doing caring things for yourself that enhance your mood or comfort levels. Here's a list of suggestions for things you can do that will help you cope in times of uncertainty or discomfort.
1. Do something that makes you laugh (watch a good film, chat to a fun friend, watch your pet getting up to hijinx, find funny videos online)
2. Try coloury counting not calorie counting: make your meals as vibrant and as colourful as possible (I mean with fruit and veg not wotsits or nerds obvs)
3. Timetable in plenty of alcohol free days
4. Move in a way that you enjoy (dance, run, clean, do some gardening, take part in a Covid safe sport)
5. Get outside and really notice the world around you: the sights, the smells, the people, the sounds…
6. Have a nap
7. Do something you find soothing: colouring, reading, yoga, meditation, cooking, crafting, building something, fixing something, sorting something… anything you like.
8. Have a bath or a shower.
9. Connect: greet people you pass on the street, say hi to the people serving in shops, phone a friend or family member, meet up with people and go for a walk or sit in the garden, have dinner with someone you live with.
10. Have a nap, stare into space, lie and do nothing, watch the clouds, listen to birdsong, listen to traffic, slowly sip a drink, savour a piece of chocolate.