For lots of people, the prospect of coming out of lockdown is exciting! It feels like an age since we were able to go out to see friends and family without having to worry about face masks, hand sanitiser and keeping an unnatural amount of distance away from our loved ones.
For some of us though, another big change in our routine after we’ve just got used to this new kind of normal may bring about anxiety. Will things ever really be the same again? Is it safe enough to ease restrictions? Can I remember how to socialise?! If my children are an example to go by… well, let’s just say I’ve had to re-teach them what’s socially acceptable again!
So, I’ve put together 7 tips for looking after your mental health post lockdown.
1. Control what you can and let go of what you can’t
This is a general rule for life but especially important to remember as lockdown restrictions ease. In times of change, things can easily become overwhelming. Accepting that there are some things you can control and some things you can’t, can help you deal with the craziness of life.
However, don’t let yourself get over-controlling, that can be equally as destructive! Try focusing on the things that are certain and go from there.
2. Pace yourself
Just because the restrictions are lifting doesn’t mean you have to throw yourself back out there. Take your time. If you don’t feel comfortable seeing everyone right away, then don’t. They will understand. Ease yourself back into socialising.
Build up your socialising gradually and if you struggle, set yourself small challenges to overcome. There’s no rush, just as long as you are moving in the right direction. It’s important not to burn yourself out by taking on too much, too quickly.
3. Speak to your manager at work
Since the pandemic started, work life has looked very different for many people. Experts think this will impact the workforce going forwards. Talking to you manager about your work concerns could mean you can make more of a transition back to work rather than going in full time immediately.
When your manager is aware of your concerns, they can help to accommodate you and build your confidence. As mental health has become more widely spoken about in recent years, work establishments are becoming more aware that staff work well when they are happy! Most should, therefore, be understanding and sympathetic.
4. Vary your routine gradually
As I mentioned above, many of us will have adopted a new routine to see us through lockdown. Rather than changing your routine straight away, work on varying your routine. Make small changes so that it isn’t a shock to your system when you begin to do more. Letting yourself get into a state of overwhelm will push back your progress so take baby steps.
5. Remember your boundaries
This might be especially tricky as we get excited to do the things we haven’t been able to for so long. We may even have forgotten our boundaries as we’re somewhat out of practise! In order to avoid overwhelm though, we have to remember our boundaries. Don’t say yes to everything right away and make sure you’re giving yourself what you need in terms of self-care. Again, take it slow and see how you feel rather than going ahead and booking too much in!
6. Focus on the present
Practise mindfulness. There’s no need to look to the future, just take one day at a time. If there’s one thing the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us, it’s that we can’t look to the future with any certainty. Rather than getting anxious about that, try focusing on living in the moment.
There will be both challenges and opportunities as we come out of lockdown. Search out the positives that can be gained from this and focus on them!
7. Talk to people you trust
If you are struggling, one of the best things you can do is talk to someone. This could be a close friend or family member, or a professional person such as a counsellor. I always feel better after a chat with a friend.
Talking through your concerns can help you to understand exactly what you are anxious about in order to put your thoughts and feelings in order. From there, you can begin to implement strategies to help you thrive when the time comes.
Finally, it’s so important to remember that you are not alone. Many people will be experiencing anxiety due to the changing guidelines. I hope that these tips help you to maintain good mental health as the lockdown restrictions ease.