Were you one of the people practically counting the days and hours before we could return to normal and could finally hug one another again, go inside each other’s house or sit inside a pub with our friends? Or are you still feeling a sense of dread and panic as the restrictions lift?
For over a year we have been told to stay at home, stay away from people, stay away from our family and we have become obsessive about germs, coughs, touching people, and crowds, not going anywhere without a mask and hand sanitiser. For anyone with previous OCD tendencies, this can put things onto a whole new scale of anxieties.
During this time we have isolated ourselves away, and for some, that meant complete isolation for many months at the beginning. We are not meant to be on our own, we are social creatures so the impact on our mental health has been enormous – so many people are now suffering from a lack of confidence and low self-esteem, struggling to meet people again.
I know this seems an odd thing to say but it’s been a brilliant excuse to let yourself go and give up on taking care of yourself – no one can see you, there’s nowhere to go so what’s the point of even getting out of your pajamas. What started out as quite a novel extended few weeks off work when the weather was nice quickly escalated into an endless groundhog day. And because of that, so many unhealthy coping strategies and habits have been formed.
We have become even more sedentary. There’s been that lack of daily routines and structure and our days just blurring into one. People have become more and more withdrawn, we are eating unhealthily and exercising less and the effort involved to change all of these is hard, not least because a lot of it can stem from anxiety caused by change.
They say it takes between 30 and 60 days to create a new habit, well we have had over a year to form new routines and thought processes. We have had to adapt to an alien way of living and it will be very difficult for some to quickly return to normal, even more so for those who had underlying issues before.
5 tips to help you return to normal
If you are one of those who feels in a heightened state of anxiety as our lives return to normal follow these simple tips to help you feel more in control.
1. Go at your own pace
Don’t feel that you have to be doing what everyone else is doing if it makes you feel anxious. Keep things as simple as you possibly can to begin with to avoid feeling too overwhelmed with the changes.
2. Take it one day at a time
It’s very easy and normal to worry about what might happen in the future and imagine different worse case scenarios. Instead bring yourself back to the present and start with simple, doable goals which you can achieve each day (or even each week). But do try to challenge yourself a little bit more each time.
3. choose quieter times
If you need to go into town or shopping try and choose quieter times when you know it will be less busy. Keep your trips short to begin with, knowing that you only have one or two errands or things to buy will make it feel much more manageable.
4. Meet a friend
Arrange to go with or a meet a friend so you have some support and a distraction. You are more likely to go if you have already made an arrangement and it gives it more of a sense of purpose… and fun!
5. Tell someone how you are feeling
How you are feeling is not uncommon, and after the last year we have become used to feeling anxious and alert about being outside or with other people. It will take some time to adjust back to feeling comfortable. Sharing how you feel will make you feel more at ease, and you may be surprised how many people feel the same as you. When you open up about how you are feeling you will be able to receive the support and understanding you need.
most importantly – Be kind to yourself
Remember it is normal to feel like this right now. So take time to focus on the positives and what you HAVE achieved. Congratulate yourself when something has gone well or when you have pushed yourself out of your comfort zone.