In March 2020 COVID-19 thrust the world into a global pandemic forcing us into lockdown.
The headlines could only be described as sounding as though they had been pulled straight from the script of an apocalyptic film. However, this was our reality or as it became known ‘our new normal.’
Each one of us adapted to the news in a different way. For some it was devastating, forcing many families and friends to be separated for months at a time. Working conditions changed for many so too did the way we learn and everything other than the kitchen sink seemed to go ‘online.’ Zoom calls were a daily occurrence, masks were an essential in everyone’s bag and the reminders of social distancing were engraved in our minds.
The past fifteen months have offered up many hardships of loss, pain and sickness. However, for some of us the Lockdown was a time of reflection, self-growth, family time and reconnection with ourselves.
Now, in summer 2021 with vaccines rolling out and restrictions beginning to ease we are left in a strange state not knowing what to do for the best, who we can and cannot interact with and unsure of our next step.
For some of us stepping back out into a sense of normality has forecast a cloud of guilt over our heads, for others the loss endured has left them fearful and saddened, some individuals may experience social anxiety whilst many will be left conflicted and confused.
So, how do we deal with this and how can we prepare ourselves, no matter the circumstances, for stepping back out?
We may not all want to admit this to ourselves yet but COVID is still here and we still need to try our best in fighting it. Remember it is so important to keep up with sanitising, wearing a mask and social distancing. When out in a social setting remember to check in for track and trace and keep up the effort to maintain bubbles.
Remember What Made You Happy
For some of us the end to lock downs may surprisingly introduce feelings of sadness. Maybe this is because it finally allowed you to read that book that has been sitting on your nightstand for months, perhaps you got to learn a new hobby or spend quality time with your family. This is great. If the lockdown gave you time for reflection and re-evaluation then we should be viewing this as a positive.
Try to remember the things you enjoyed about the lockdown and what or who made you happy now try to maintain them. Create time for the people in your life but also for yourself so keep up with the reading, the new hobby or whatever you filled your lockdown days with.
Stepping back out may appear daunting and social anxiety can creep in. If this is the case for you do not be too harsh on yourself. You do not have to sit in at a busy restaurant, go to the shops or mix in a loud bar. It is okay to start small and stick to what you are comfortable with. Perhaps there are friends you still cannot see so make sure to keep in touch via our good friend zoom. If you are heading out and not sure if this will be too much try to stick to outdoor areas like the beach, coffee docks or forest parks with a small number of friends or family. Each day will be different and that is okay.
Talk Things Through
Talking is always the best medicine and a way of gaining advice and support. Whether you feel like talking to a family member, friend or even a medical profession, each one is okay. You should not feel embarrassed or ashamed.
Remember we have and still are going through a global pandemic so it is understandable if you are feeling unsure. Talk to someone about your reservations and explain to friends and family that you do want to see them but you are feeling conflicted. Honesty is the best way to explain yourself but do not feel like you have to justify your concerns because they are completely justified.