As you will no doubt be aware, the easing of the third national Covid-19 lockdown in England is currently in full swing. As I write this article, we are delicately poised between stages 2 and 3 of the Prime Minister’s ‘roadmap’ which in crude terms means you can eat and drink outside right now, but all being well you can do the same stuff inside from 17th May!
I decided to write this article on 29th March when I was sat waiting for my taxi to go sit in a friend’s garden and taste the first dose of freedom since Christmas Day 2020. As I sat there excited, I was suddenly overcome with a sense of dread.
Initially this seemed strange – this was meant to be the happiest time I’d had in months and yet I was filled with anxiety. After thinking about it for a while I realised this was probably down to the major change that the first stage of lockdown easing posed. I don’t proclaim to understand the many psychological processes behind the symptoms I experienced but I would hazard a guess that many of you have felt or are feeling that way to.
As we will be experiencing many more of these moments of change in the coming months, this is going to impact our mental health. Therefore, I thought it would be useful to share with you a few tips that are helping me cope:
- Take one thing at a time – Whether that be at an individual activity level or each new set of freedoms we get. You can only prepare for what’s in front of you and worrying about the next stage will not help.
- Plan in advance – If you’re already worried about going out again don’t add to that by not planning your experience. Book tables, transport, even pre-order your food if that is going to take a weight off your mind!
- Be honest if it is getting too much – Nobody should force you into embracing the ‘new normal’ right away. Be honest with your friends and family about what you feel you can handle.
- Consider mindfulness techniques – I am the last person you would consider ‘zen’, but it can be incredibly helpful to take 5 or 10 minutes a day to breathe and try to think about nothing at all.
Finally, and potentially most important of all, be kinder to yourself. The next few months are likely to be the most exciting but equally most stressful we’ve experienced in well over a year so allow yourself the space you need to deal with that.
Some links you may find useful as we continue to phase out of lockdown:
Disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional, and this article is written based on my own personal experiences only. This should not be relied upon as advice and you should seek help from a relevant mental health service if you are worried about your mental health.