Life after Lock-down - adjusting to the 'new normal'
How are you coping as things go back to this new normal? (not sure I am too keen on that phrase what do you think?). As much as many of us were probably keen to get back to outside life I think it has been a bit harder than we anticipated, things have changed so much, there is a new way of acting when out and about, seeing people in face masks is common and for many people are now missing who were there when lock-down started. It is a different world than the one we left back in March, in so many ways, and that is hard to adapt to.
For me coming out of lock-down has really highlighted not only the things I missed during it but also it has brought home how much things have really changed. Spontaneous days out are no more, most places now require you to book now (I spent an hour in a virtual queue to book tickets for Chester Zoo and the only ones available were in 4 weeks!), ditto with spontaneous meals out, everything has gotten so hard, and who could have thought that face-masks would become part of our wardrobe???!!!
It can be quite stressful remembering all the different rules depending on where you are in the country and I sense there is a general feeling of confusion and mistrust with all the constant changes and U-turns. Couple this with the normal day to day stress and strains I believe it is quite understandable that so many are feeling all kinds of different heightened emotions right now. So how can you help yourself with all this?
Acknowledge the feelings – often the more you try to ignore or avoid a feeling the more persistent it becomes, sometimes by acknowledging and accepting that this is how you feel right now can help the feeling to move on. Think of it as like a child that is trying to show you a toy, the more you ignore them the louder and more persistent they become. Acknowledging difficult emotions isn’t nice I get that however it isn’t about dwelling in it but recognising that this is where you are and then deciding where you want to be and how you can get there.
Express the emotion - I am a big advocate for writing things down, write down how you feel, do a brain dump, just get it all out, sometimes just buy doing this it can help you to see where you are in a different way. If writing doesn’t work for you how about talking about it to friends, family or a counsellor.
Look at what can be controlled and what cant - a good exercise for this is to draw 2 circles on some paper, in one write everything that is going on that you can REALISTICALLY do something about, in the other all the things you have no control over. Next formulate a step by step plan on how you can deal with the things you can do something about. For the things you can do nothing about find a way, that works for you, to accept (and remember accepting isn’t about liking but about saying it is what it it is right now) and move forwards.
Take care of you – do things for you. I quite often recommend writing a list of everything that you enjoy doing, big too the small then commit to doing at least one thing a day off the list – you can’t be there for other people and function well if you have no energy, it is so so so important that you look after you so you can look after others.
Mindfulness – This is another thing I always recommend, it isn’t about sitting cross legged for hours chanting OM (though it can be if that works for you!), it is about finding a way to calm your mind and focus on the now to stop yourself getting carried away with anxious/critical/ruminating thoughts. It really teaches you tools you can use to help yourself if you feel you are getting overwhelmed. https://www.headspace.com/ is my personal favourite. There is also www.calm.com and many can be found on YouTube
That is just a few of the things I have found work, what works for you?