We are beginning to unlock and it’s a confusing time. I did a poll on LinkedIn this week to ask how folks are feeling as lockdown eases. 42% are feeling anxious, 44% are ready and 12% are not feeling ready at all.
It’s OK to feel anxious as lockdown eases
I watched this morning as my daughter wanted to knock on our friend’s door, she’s almost two, she knocked and when my friend opened the door she took three big steps back. It’s automatic for her now. As we chatted across her garden, my friend described it in a really interesting way – “we’re at war with ourselves” she said. “I want to go out, it’s been so long and yet I don’t want to go out. I am stuck being logical and irrational and I never know who’s going to win”
Of course, I understand how she feels, I think we all can. It’s not simple; there is no right/wrong way as lockdown eases and unlocks. Personally, I am totally ready to ‘get back to normal’ but when I popped into town I was frustrated at how many people were around, slowing me down. I have gotten used to everywhere being quiet. I never liked busy places, but I do like connecting with people in small groups.
In one sense it was easier when we were under stricter lockdown. We knew what the rules were and so it was easy to follow them. Now we’re managing our own thoughts and feelings about change and trying to be mindful of others’. Mind has a really good article about all of the feelings you might be feeling and how to manage them if you need it.
Just as we did when we went into lockdown so will we go through the change curve as lockdown eases. You might feel angry, you might want to hide away and pretend it isn’t happening. I am hearing tales of people’s brains feeling flat and/or foggy, of feeling disorientated and demotivated. This is all normal as we find our own rhythm and deal with the repercussions in our own lives.
5 ways to cope with the transition as lockdown eases
I think the biggest thing to remember is that whatever you’re feeling is normal. We’ve lived under some kind of restrictions since March 2020. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that all of our routines were disrupted in some way. Be gentle with yourself, you are doing the best you can.
Take it slow
If you, like my friend, are finding it hard to leave the house/street/town where you live, take it slowly. You don’t have to force yourself to go into a busy shopping centre. You might try taking a walk around your neighbourhood or popping to the shop at a quiet time of day. Meet a friend outside for a walk or join one of the fitness classes that have started up outside. It might take time to feel like you used to about things that you used to enjoy – that’s OK, allow the feelings of frustration, confusion and anxiety to come. As you face your fears and take steps to overcome them, they will get easier
One of the things I am most looking forward to is re-connecting in person. Yes we will be taking it easy and socially distancing to begin with, but after so many months of online meetings, I can’t wait to see people in the flesh! That said, I think this year has given us all a chance to evaluate our relationships – if lockdown taught us anything it was to decide what is important to us; to reflect on our lives and values. I would also encourage you to consider the boundaries you may have set already. If lockdown was an opportunity for you to manage your time better then make sure you keep those promises to yourself.
Celebrate the good times
Although this past year is for many, a time they would rather forget, there have been some good moments. What were yours? What are you grateful for? Take a moment to acknowledge the challenges you have overcome during the pandemic. This will help you keep perspective and strengthen your motivation towards your goals. You may have learned new things and achieved and the opportunities these may bring.
Focus on what’s important to you
Over the year I have mostly stopped watching the news, I haven’t found that it’s helped me. Instead, I have focused on what’s around me, what I can control (myself, my actions and behaviours), my goals and finding what works for me.