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Diane Stevens Counselling

Coming out of Lockdown

As the Covid Virus is continuing to retreat and we are now thinking of coming out of the
current restrictions, how is this feeling for you? And how are we going to cope with it?
On the surface it sounds exciting, people are starting to fill their diaries, talk about their
plans and looking forward to getting back to normal, but what will this new normal be?
Has the old ‘normal’ long gone? We have started to be conditioned on social distancing and
our brains have now taken this on board as a way of living.

How many of you find it strange when we see old TV programmes where people are shaking
hands, hugging or even sitting next to each other? I know I do, it feels like a thing of the
past, like seeing people smoking on airplanes or being whistled at from a building site. Some
families are even looking at each other and asking, ‘does that look weird to you?’
The pandemic has shown just how quickly we adjust to social conditioning. This happens
because of rules and expectations, this means that we are told what to do and then we see
people doing it. This puts us in a position of ‘following the crowd’ and wanting to be socially
accepted. At the beginning of lockdown, how many of you felt uncomfortable about
wearing a mask? It wasn’t expected but for some it felt safer but not everyone was doing it.
Would you consider how you were perceived if you wore one? Did you sit in your car before
entering the supermarket looking to see how many others were wearing one before you
could make a decision whether to wear one or not? We feel more comfortable when we are
in the majority. This is why clear instructions are important when we need for people to be
following the rules, it gives us a sense of security. Now, no one feels uncomfortable wearing
a mask to be socially accepted, it has become the norm and we scrutinise when we see
someone not wearing one.

So, going forward, we can adapt again but it might take time. The important thing is not to
put yourself under pressure. It’s going to be especially difficult for those who have lost
loved ones or have contracted the virus, you might feel particularly vulnerable when
starting to go out again.

For a while we will still have to socially distance, so the less we meet the better so don’t be
afraid to say ‘no’ if you are not ready. Explain to others that you are still being careful. If you
are feeling anxious about returning to the workplace, explain this to your boss and see if
you can arrange a phased return. You will probably find that colleagues are feeling similar.
Check out what precautions are in place at work and don’t be pushed into doing anything
that isn’t abiding by the restrictions.

We are likely to be bombarded with emails or texts from hairdressers, restaurants and other
places you use to visit. This could feel overwhelming. If it gets too much you can
unsubscribe until you are ready and don’t be intimidated by those who are getting out and
about, we all have different levels of confidence.

Others are exciting about coming out of lockdown, why aren’t I?

Not everyone is excited about coming out of lockdown. Don’t pretend to be more confident
than you are. If we share our anxieties, then we have a better chance of understanding each
other. Many people are showing extreme excitement about coming out of lockdown, trying
to cram their diaries and get their friends and family on board. The enthusiasm is to be
commended but it might burn out as the reality of doing things kicks in. So, don’t be fooled
by others, sometimes this is a cover for their anxiety.

If you have learned new skills or ‘found yourself’ during lockdown, there is no pressure to go
back to the life you had before. Don’t feel guilty about change. It’s normal to adapt under
these circumstances and many people will establish new lives and goals. Don’t be alarmed if
others are doing this but be accepting and supportive.

We have adapted and we will adapt again, but take your time, don’t rush things. Share your
feelings and you won’t feel alone. You could start by going out and just meeting one friend
at a time to catch up rather than a larger gathering. You can build up this. If families are
trying to arrange big get togethers, explain that you would rather meet one family at a time,
it can be overwhelming with too many, especially if there are children involved and get over
excited. You don’t have to go to the pub, this seems to be a large expectation in our society
but focus on the loved ones first and get used to being in the company of those you trust.
Beauty appointments and other less important practical things can wait, there are going to
be long queues anyway but don’t avoid medical appointments. Go for short walks rather
than a day out or shorter breaks rather than a longer holiday. Coping is a process; things
don’t change overnight. We might have dates to come out of lockdown, but this doesn’t
mean you have to. It’s normal to have anxieties about change and you will have experienced
this before. Anxiety is a state of being when thinking about things that haven’t happened
yet or have already happened and you feel you can’t do anything about it. Anxiety can also
consume you if you feel you are not doing what others expect of you. If you take control of
your own choices this will build your confidence and help you to believe in yourself.
The choices are yours to make. A lot of us have made new connections in lockdown, learned
new skills and developed new talents. Don’t let go of these, these are all a part of you and
not just for lockdown. Things don’t have to be the same and you don’t have to feel guilty
about that.

Take care out there.

Take care and keep safe

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