As we come to the end of lockdown, it’s time to start preparing ourselves both mentally and physically for life ‘returning back to normal’. I think it’s important to note that ‘normal’ does not necessarily mean the same as before, and we should take what we have learnt over this past year to help improve our new normal. Ensuring that we start making small changes to our routine now will help to ease us out of lockdown, and hopefully reduce any anxieties that we may be feeling.
Here are a few tips to guide you to getting back into tune with your body, boost your confidence and get you feeling good:
Start Filling Up Your Diary
One of the most important things when you’re trying to feel good is to have something to look forward to. Now that we have some dates as to when most places will be open we can begin adding to our diaries. Perhaps book in a hair appointment or organise outings with friends. Having something to look forward to will help to brighten your mood and get you feeling yourself again.
Focus on Fitness
With gyms opening soon now is the time to start building your fitness back up, and getting your body used to some slightly more strenuous exercise than a walk. This will also help to mentally prepare you for going back as I’m sure some of you may be feeling a bit nervous, especially with summer approaching. You may have discovered a love for at home workouts and decided that the gyms aren’t for you and that is fine too.
Care About Your Skin
Your skin is like a mirror reflecting your habits and behaviour and studies have shown that over lockdown our bodies entered a physical-ageing overdrive most likely brought on by stress and anxiety, so it’s important to focus on trying to reverse these effects. In addition, there are many other factors that have contributed: a disturbed sleeping pattern, a change in diet and snacking, increased time indoors and also longer periods spent in front of a screen. It’s important to acknowledge these bad habits and start to change them.
Declutter Your Wardrobe
One of the best ways to feel prepared for any new situation is to declutter of your space: a clear space = clear mind. Now is a great time to go through your wardrobe and get rid of any pieces that you no longer wear and have a general tidy. By going through your clothes you will hopefully discover pieces you have forgotten about and gain some inspiration on post lockdown outfits. I don’t know about you but I’ve been living in same outfits on rotation!
Lockdown life has been incredibly difficult for each and every one of us in many different ways so don’t be too hard on yourself. The big adjustments we have had to get used to came with a lot of unknowns and very little guidance, so it’s important that we take time to reflect on how far we have come and the lessons we have learnt. I for one have learnt to focus more on the things that make me happy, this can be anything from having a pamper day or reading a book, to doing some calming yoga.
Anxious about the end of lockdown? You are not alone
In only a few weeks we might be fully out of lockdown but then again we may not. Some people are taking it all in their stride and it would be easy to assume that everyone can’t wait for things to go ‘back to normal’. However, for many of us, even the happy, much anticipated changes can be difficult for our mental health. Whether it’s not wanting to go back to the way things were, fear over the threat of Covid19 or feeling excited but with a tinge of worry, the anxiety of lockdown ending is very real for many. It’s ok to be happy for those who can’t wait to go back to normal and are jumping at the chance, but its also ok that it won’t be easy for everyone.
Preparing Our Mental Health for the End of Lockdown
Adjusting our lives to live in lockdown was tough and it took us time to find ways of coping. We should also expect that it will take time for us to adapt to ‘normal’ again and reconnect with life.
The things that helped us adapt to lockdown in the first place are still relevant to keep your mental health in check as lockdown ends: find routines, stay connected and talk about how you feel, eat well, exercise and spent time outside in green spaces, get a good night’s sleep. Keeping to this is arguably even more important now as life is bound to get more demanding. Looking after your physical health helps you cope with feelings of anxiety and manage stressful situations.
Be Kind To Yourself
It would be easy to feel like you’re the odd one out as everyone gears up for a packed social life again. However, our own situations and our own mental health are unique to us. It’s important we are kind to ourselves and don’t judge ourselves too harshly. Try not to compare yourself to others, as we all have to move through these situations as best we can with our own coping mechanisms.
On the one hand you may be looking forward to some more structure to your day or looking forward to seeing your friends and family. However, you also may feel concerned or anxious about returning to situations you haven’t been in for a long time. It is perfectly possible to feel both feelings at the same time! Show yourself the same compassion and care you would to someone else – if you find yourself berating how you feel, think ‘How would I speak to a friend right now?’.
Controlling Fear and Anxiety – Take Things at Your Own Pace
We have spent a very intense year building a safe space at home to help us cope with the uncertainty of the world right now. Leaving that safe space is bound to be difficult! We are also facing situations that we haven’t been in for a long time. Even if they are situations we have been in thousands of time, the unfamiliarity can bring up anxious feelings.
Don’t let the seclusion of lockdown become deliberate isolation because you are worried or scared. Take things at your own pace and try to build up to things day to day, setting small daily goals to achieve. Celebrate the small things and don’t beat yourself up if you struggle – just try again tomorrow.
It’s important to not let others bully or pressure you into doing things you don’t want to, but it’s also important not to let that be an excuse not to push yourself. Don’t just go by the timeline set out by the government, but also what is the best time for you.
Talk to People You Trust
Share your fears and concerns with someone you feel comfortable talking to. They may even be experiencing the same or similar feelings. Sharing how you both feel can help you feel supported and understood. Sometimes just saying it out loud can release the hold that anxiety has over you. It’s important to discuss concerns with those close to you, but also to allow other people space to move at their own pace.
Focus on the positives of lockdown and the future
Try to focus on the positives and take pleasure from the little things you can enjoy again. Whether it’s being able to have a coffee in your favourite café or having a socially distanced garden visit with a loved one that you have missed, there are always positives that can be celebrated.
It’s also important to assess your life pre-lockdown. Maybe you never much liked crowds, or the commute, or you are too used to saying yes to every invite and you don’t want to go back to feeling burnt out all the time. Look at the positives of lockdown and how it may have adjusted your behaviours. Look at how you can bring that behaviour forward to ensure you don’t fall back into old habits, whether it’s your exercise routine, having more time for yourself to rest, or spending more time cooking from scratch.
This is an experience that no one has ever faced before. We are breaking new ground. Anxiety and fear is completely normal, so don’t make yourself more anxious by worrying you’re alone – more people than you even know about may be feeling the same way. Remember to be kind to yourself and others, take it at your own pace, keep the positives from lockdown and look at the positives of the future.