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Adjusting to life after lockdown

Posted on 09 April 2021

The rules are different in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but from Monday 12th April we’ll see the next stage in lifting lockdown in England:

  • All shops allowed to open, along with close-contact services, including hairdressers and beauty salons (including in people's homes)
  • Restaurants and pubs allowed to serve food and alcohol to customers sitting outdoors
  • Gyms and spas can reopen, as can zoos, theme parks, libraries and community centres

It’s an opportunity to socialise with family and friends as well as a return to day to day activities. The retail, leisure and hospitality sector is the third largest in the UK, so millions of people will also be returning to work.

Many of us will welcome the chance to improve our social wellbeing after months of restricted contact, but others will be dealing with fear and anxiety. According to a Red Cross survey, more than two fifths (42%) of us are concerned about feeling safe using public facilities and services while coronavirus is still present in the UK.

Pace yourself

The best advice is to go at the right pace for you. Don’t let others bully or pressure you into doing things you don’t want to – but try not to let that be an excuse not to push yourself, especially when it comes to reconnecting with friends and family safely.

When we don’t want to do a task that makes us feel anxious, worried or scared, our brains will act in a way to help control this. One way is to avoid the situation that makes you feel uncomfortable. In the short term, this might reduce your worry. But over time it can increase your anxiety and lower your confidence as you never face up to the uncomfortable feelings.

So take things at your own pace – but try and challenge yourself to try something different each day or every couple of days. It’s very easy to allow the seclusion that was necessary in lockdown to become deliberate isolation as lockdown ends. Celebrate small wins (and big wins) and try and keep a note of what you are achieving.

Be kind to yourself

Because everybody’s situation is unique, it is really important to try not to judge ourselves harshly based on what other people are doing. Everybody is facing uncertainty and challenge – and we have no choice but to move through it as best we can with our own coping mechanisms. 

Don’t judge others

Even if you’re desperate to meet up with friends, be mindful that they may have different priorities depending on their circumstances. Perhaps they have a mental or physical condition that makes them more vulnerable to the virus, or they live with/provide care for people who do.

Likewise, parents and children have had a lot to cope with throughout lockdown. Going back to ‘normal’ life will bring new pressures and it’s important to make an extra effort to support our children getting back into the school routine and picking up friendships.

Keeping the good

Humans are creatures of habit and when our habits are disturbed it can create anxiety and stress. Many of us will have built up a routine over lockdown in order to cope, but now the world is opening up, our natural response may be a mixture of excitement and fear.

As we create our new routines, think about any new hobbies you’ve picked up throughout lockdown and how you might integrate these. Have you started a new tradition with your family? Perhaps you’ve found time to exercise and you’d like to build on your progress. Include anything you have picked up during lockdown that makes you happy.

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