It has been a whole year since our lives took a turn with the introduction of a national lockdown. We won’t say for the worst because there will be people who have embraced the lockdown and found solace in solitude. However, for the majority of us, yes, the lockdown has definitely turned our worlds upside down.
Lockdowns go against human nature; we don’t like being told what to do, or how long we can go outside and exercise for, or how many people we can/can’t meet up with. But due to the obvious reasoning behind it, we have, for the most part, managed to live with restrictions for a whole 12 months.
But what is this looking like for our mental health?
It’s a scary thought for many with the anticipation of life returning to its new ‘normal’; social anxiety will be hiking up for many of us through fear of conversations in real life; through group interactions; through working in the office. Now let’s add in the anxiety of commuting, passing by people with no/limited social distancing.
We’ve become accustomed to spending all of our days and evenings (with the exception of key workers) working and living at home, with very limited social interaction. This is going to be strange. And it needs to be understood and accepted that not everyone is going to be able to swing straight back into their ‘old personality’.
Be aware of time
Let’s not forget that it only takes 90 days of continuous practice to form a habit. We’ve had 365 days of lockdown (yes, this time period has had breaks but the point remains); we are now used to classifying a face mask and anti-bac hand gel as part of our essentials when leaving the home; we’re used to standing far enough away from others; we’re used to not hugging or shaking hands when we meet them.
All of our initial interactions with others are going to be awkward. No point beating around the bush. We’re already anticipating messages to friends asking them if they’re okay to hug when we meet up because whenever we currently meet for a socially distanced walk, we stand and wave. (Smile and wave boys, smile and wave… please, get the reference).
Endnote: It’s okay to not feel ready to jump back into normal life. Take your time, and be kind to yourself.