The easing of lockdown restrictions is the light at the end of the tunnel many of us have longed for. However, you may have mixed feelings about the return to some form of normality. The opportunity to see friends, socialise, play sports, return to the gym and browse shops brings a sense of much-needed optimism, but the adjustment and fear of the unknown involved can also create feelings of anxiety, apathy and worry. The sense that we should be happy can make this worse and leave us feeling confused.
According to mental health experts, we should be prepared that the end of lockdown might be as hard for us as the start was and we may need to take the time to find ways to adjust and cope.1 We need to come to terms with the fact that things may not be the same as they were before – and that keeping hold of some aspects of our new post-pandemic way of life might help our mental health.
Here are some ways you can avoid unnecessary pressure and ease your way out of lockdown:
Fear and anxiety are natural emotional responses as we come out of lockdown. The best way to try to manage this is to take things at your own pace and only do the activities you feel comfortable with.1 If hitting the shops fills you with dread, stick to online shopping for the time being. Try one new activity every few days, and make sure activities with friends feel safe and comfortable for everyone.
Don’t feel you have to accept every social invitation
Going from zero to 100 miles an hour in terms of your social life is likely to feel daunting for even the most extrovert of us. See the friends and family members you’ve missed most, and don’t feel bad declining offers that may feel too much for now.
Don’t pressurise yourself to look a certain way
Many people have gained some weight during lockdown, and overgrown hairstyles are standard after months with no hairdressers. Be kind to yourself, do what makes you feel good and don’t feel bad if you’re sporting a few extra pounds or grey hairs. Equally, if getting your nails done or hitting the gym will give you a boost, prioritise this and enjoy the small pleasures we’ve missed out on for the last few months.
Keep hold of any positives from the last year
You may decide that you prefer a quieter life, or that commuting every day no longer works for you. Daily walks may have become a lockdown habit you’d like to maintain. Take the time to reflect on aspects of pandemic life that have worked for you and see how you can incorporate them into your post-lockdown habits.
Know that there is no right or wrong way to feel
Many of us are experiencing new emotions due to a situation that we have never lived through before. It may help you to talk to friends, family or colleagues about how you’re feeling. There are also lots of online resources to help you manage and navigate your way through any worries or anxiety.
We hope that by following these tips, you’ll be able to make the adjustment to post-lockdown life at your own pace and in a way that makes sense for you.