How I'm managing my nerves around life after lockdown
Many people are feeling nervous or anxious about the 'new normal' so Eimear shares some advice to help you feel more comfortable
For the past year, we have been sharing tips on ways to cope during lockdown, encouraging one another on the voyage through isolation. Many of us have been discussing difficulties we’re experiencing during this unprecedented time. However, something I feel hasn’t been discussed much is how people are feeling about life after lockdown. Many people have been thinking about life after lockdown since the beginning of the pandemic, but as it’s starting to become more of a reality, some people may be feeling anxious or may find it difficult to adjust at first.
Here are some of my tips that may help you to ease yourself into ‘the new normal’.
1. Remember that feeling anxious about change is normal
It is important to remind yourself that what you are feeling is normal. Even people that were once very outgoing and social before lockdown may struggle with adjusting to life after lockdown. You have gotten used to a routine and so it is only natural that you may feel uncomfortable interrupting this routine. Be patient with yourself and speak to trusted friends or family members about your feelings, as many people are likely to be feeling the same way.
2. Start off small
Depending on what you are anxious about, try to begin small to ease yourself in. If you are feeling conscious about catching or passing on COVID, perhaps meeting with one friend on a socially distanced walk to begin with before meeting with a group. You could also try getting a takeaway coffee instead of sitting down in a restaurant as this might help you to feel safer.
If you are feeling anxious about conversations with friends you haven’t seen in a while, perhaps try to organize a video call in the upcoming weeks to get used to chatting with friends again, or think of a list of topics for discussion before meeting up. Beginning with leaving the house once a week and working up to daily excursions may also help make the transition easier.
3. Plan activities
Planning activities to do with friends might help with anxious feelings. Activities such as organising to play a sport, baking, painting, gardening or cycling together takes the pressure off making conversation. It also allows you to know exactly what you will be doing. If you have something organised to do, the meet-up is less likely to lead to an activity that you may not be comfortable with yet.
4. Talk to someone or write about your feelings
Talking to someone you trust, or writing about your feelings may be helpful if you are unsure why you are feeling anxious. Opening up a conversation on the topic or writing down feelings may aid you in figuring out what areas of post-lockdown life you are anxious about, and how
you can best tackle these feelings. It may also help to write about your feelings after each meetup or activity to help with figuring out what activities you are feeling comfortable with and what activities you are still feeling unsure about.
5. It is okay if you need more time
Allow yourself to work off of your own schedule. Just because government restrictions may be lifted on a certain date does not mean that you have to go straight back to normal on this date if you don’t feel ready to. If you need an extra week or two at home, that is okay. Allow yourself to enter post-lockdown life at your own pace. Explaining this to friends and family may take some pressure off you. Be patient with yourself.
It is completely valid to feel nervous, worried or anxious about life after lockdown. This is a ‘new normal’, not the old normal, and so allowing yourself to adjust at your own pace is completely understandable, and something that many people will be going through. Hopefully these tips will help if you’ve been feeling anxious. Remember that this will be new to everyone, and we should remain supportive of one another during this time.