#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek | With Lockdown Coming To a Close, It’s Time To Open Up

The past year (and the rest) of our lives, has been one of immense change. Change, restriction, loneliness and the everlasting feeling of “what is going on right now?” And now, as we slowly come out of this phase and gradually return to ‘normality’, we are in a period of change once more. For some of us, the lockdown lifestyle is one that we became eerily used to, isolation, lack of social interaction and becoming obsessed once again with long lost hobbies. The thought of giving this up and returning to work and social lives is one that can be daunting.

It’s important not to judge others on their manner of coping with this weird new world we find ourselves in, and similarly not pay too much mind to how your means of living might appear inadequate in comparison to your peers (and especially complete strangers on social media). 

Anxiety & Fear

We currently find ourselves in uncertain times and such circumstances are bound to elicit inescapable feelings of fear and anxiety in many of us. This is to be expected and none of us should feel insufficient for feeling any certain way. Lockdown was very emotionally taxing and it took a lot of time and effort to find a place that allows us to cope, and it will understandably be difficult to leave that place behind and go through the adjustment period all over again. But humans by nature are social animals, and we must try where we can to not allow involuntary isolation become voluntary.  

Try To:

  • Take things at your own pace and slowly build up a tolerance to the outside world again, do not feel any pressure to do something you are not ready for, in time, when you feel ready, try to push yourself to do new things as a matter of routine.
  • Variety. Routine is great, but there’s always room for subtle switch-ups. Doing so will ensure you are exposed to a healthy range of people, environments and situations. For example, if you usually walk to your local supermarket for meat and vegetables etc, perhaps a trip to the market butcher and grocer might do your mental state some good with a refreshing reboot.  
  • Talk to people. Specifically talk to the relevant people at work, at home and within your inner relationships. Your manager should be understanding of any issues you may have. If you do not feel up to particular tasks in current circumstances with a valid reason, you should communicate this. We have all got this far through a shared sense of solidarity, and that is built on healthy communication and comradery.  
  • Focus on today. We are best served doing our part in the here and now, with a hope of a better tomorrow in our minds. One way this might be achieved is through the practice of mindful meditation.  
  • Focus on what is certain. It is good practice to only focus on what we know to be certain, or as close to certain as possible. For example, we do not know whether there will be flights around the world or not this summer, and planning for international holidays in the near future may or may not be setting yourself up for disappointment. However, we do know that we now have the hospitality sector partially reopened domestically as well as the vitally important health/fitness and beauty industries back in operation. This is a blessing we have come to take for granted, so perhaps now we can focus on the small victories we as a nation are making and when the time is right we can live more fulfilled lives again. 

It is safe to say the worst is behind us and we are on track back to the lifestyles we have forged over our lifetimes. It’s crucial we navigate the final stretch with courage, friendship, and empathy. We wish you all the best in these strange times. 

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