There are numerous articles/ blogs on coping mechanisms during lock down – now with restrictions being slowly lifted we thought some guidance on how we can manage life AFTER lock down would be beneficial for our readers. The announcement that we could only leave our houses once a day for exercise was almost three months ago now, for some of us this may have gone mind numbingly slow, for others including myself the announcement feels like yesterday. As humans we’ve all managed to adjust to the new normal in our own four walls, in the past month we’ve seen slight easings of lock down as to begin with the advisory slogan went from ‘stay at home’ to ‘stay alert’, then we were allowed to meet up outside in groups of 6 and go over to one another’s houses. As of Monday non-essential shops are opening and if all goes well restaurants, pubs and hairdressers will reopen in July, these are positive steps as it shows all our efforts of isolating from normality has paid off however this may cause a tsunami of anxiety for some – which is completely normal. Whilst many of us are eagerly waiting for restrictions to be lifted the prospect of a ‘new normal’ can also bring on some anxieties. This is evident in a recent poll by Ipsos MORI found 67% of British people feel uncomfortable attending large public gatherings, music and sporting events compared to how they felt before the virus and 3 in 5 Brits are sceptical of going to bars and restaurants or using public transport again.
How has mental health taken a hit?
We haven’t been through anything of the sort in the recent past and it’s too early to know what the long lasting mental effects of corona virus are but unfortunately our immune systems can’t fight the mental struggles that have come with lock down. A study by the mental health charity ‘Young Minds’ found 80% of young people who has a history with mental health problems said they found their conditions worsened since the corona virus outbreak began. The link between mental health and poverty has been recognised for many years prior to this pandemic, and with a large number of businesses putting staff on furlough or letting them go this can cause problems that may have not be there prior to the pandemic. Research from the mental health foundation found one fifth of people survey have had suicidal thoughts and suicidal thoughts in the last two weeks – compared to 8.64% of people in employment.
How we can manage with the anxiety of re-entering society
Go at your own pace
One of the reasons why lock down may have been so mentally challenging at the beginning is because unlike the lifting of lock down it was sudden so therefore we had to abruptly stop our normal day to day lives and create a new ‘ at home’ routine. Just because we are able to go into groups of 6 outside of our households doesn’t mean you have to do so straight away , a good way to ease yourself back into society is meeting up with one or two friends out of your household to familiarise yourself with others. If your office reopens but you can still work from home build up your attendance in the office and slowly re-establish a routine that you are comfortable with. If you don’t have control on when you return to work i.e. you can’t work from home put measures in place that make you feel as comfortable as possible that you can voice it to your employer, communication is really key here.
Focus on what you can control
Through the whole of this pandemic it has been uncertain and unfortunately a worldwide pandemic is something we can’t control as individuals, so it goes without saying if you’re anxious about catching the virus then focus on following the government guidelines. If you picked up something to focus on during lockdown – whether this is exercise or cooking don’t stop this as it’ll be a while until we can make excuses for ‘not having time’ for these activities. If you have been unfortunate enough to have lost your job focus on how you can enter the working world again, build a strong social profile by making connections in your chosen industry through platforms such as LinkedIn.
We’re all in this together and this pandemic has highlighted the importance of friends and family more than anything so let’s work together to share coping mechanisms/strategies. Most importantly remember you won’t be the only one that’s feeling anxious about attempting to go back to what used to be our normal again – so don’t panic this feeling isn’t permanent.
Written by Sophia Ghahramani