Lockdown roadmap: are you ready to exit?

For some of us, it is a celebration to go back to the normal world after lockdown. But for others, it might be difficult to step out into the world, and this may cause stress and anxiety.

If you are feeling anxious/worried about ‘going back to the normal life,’ ‘the life after lockdown’: that’s ok. Although it hasn’t been easy for many of us at the beginning, being in our comfort zone at home with our families and staying at a much slower pace are some of the positives of being in lockdown. It’s been more than one year since the first restrictions came into force, and perhaps it’s become the new normal for many of us. It took some time to get used to it, and after such a long time being in lockdown, it may feel worrying to go back to social life and work again. While it is not something completely stranger to us, it might take some time to get back to old normal life, and it’s ok.

Here are some top tips that may help overcome these worries:

It’s ok

If you feel anxious about going back to normal life, it’s ok! Some people find it healing to spend their time at home, work from home. Be gentle to yourself and do not avoid these feelings. Approach them with self-compassion. It may take time to create a new routine when you go back to work or to the social life. And it’s OK if you take longer to adjust than others.

One step at a time

If you have some worries about going back to work, the best thing you can do is to find out which part of it worries you most. Find out If it is socialising with colleagues or health related worries. Then take one step at a time to solve these step by step. Celebrate every achievement, even if it is a tiny one.

Thoughts: facts or opinions?

Sometimes our thoughts catch us like a hook. It is not easy to unhook ourselves from these thoughts. A way of doing this is to assess our thoughts: are they facts or our own opinions? ‘I think everyone will tease me once they learn that I am enjoying my lockdown life’ is it a fact or your opinion?

Take the control

There are some aspects of life that we don’t have any control over it. Luckily, more aspects of life are controllable such as where to go shopping, for a holiday or what to do on weekends. Focus on what you can control and try to accept what you can’t.

Create a new routine

You can definitely bring your hobbies, routines, or things you enjoy doing in lockdown to the post lockdown world. Is there anything that you start to do during the lockdown and has been very helpful to you? It worth thinking about new routines that allow you to go back to normal life with some benefits from the pandemic environment.

Check with your employer

If you feel nervous about going back to the office, you have the right to find out the risk assessment that in place for your workspace. Having answers will help with the worries. Some workplaces allow flexible working. If you have or have had longer term mental health problems, you may be entitled to reasonable adjustments as a disabled person under the Equality Act.

Assertive communication

If you feel uncomfortable with things, try to use assertive communication skills to express your feelings. Don’t let others push you to a situation that you are not ready for yet!

Look after your health

Keep a balanced diet, stay hydrated, look after your sleep and try to be active. These small steps will also help you with your mental health. Mindfulness activities and yoga are some other tools to improve your wellbeing.

Grief and bereavement

This is something many of us experienced during the pandemic. Many people lost their loved ones and couldn’t attend their funerals due to the restrictions. It may need some time to process grief, and there are many available supports regarding this. 

Please see some of them below;

Seek help

It’s ok to seek help if you feel very low and don’t know what to do. You can request an appointment with your GP or call NHS direct on 111.

The local services available are Suffolk Mind (https://www.suffolkmind.org.uk/) and Suffolk Wellbeing ( https://www.wellbeingnands.co.uk/norfolk/), Samaritans (https://www.samaritans.org/branches/ipswich/).

Dr AB Sirin Ayva, MBACP

Psychology Clinical Lead, OneLife Suffolk

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