In March 2020 we had to redefine how we lived our lives practically overnight. Navigating a global pandemic has certainly been a challenge but has taught us human resilience too. For many ‘Covid fatigue’ may have set in. We are innately social beings and the psychological impact of social isolation has been profound. Some have experienced ongoing anxiety, lowered mood, sleep difficulties and frustration at the ongoing situation.
Many people are hopeful for June when we may be able to begin to socialise as we used to. However not everyone may feel this is a positive turning point for them. For some, the thought of returning to “life again” is a source of uncertainty and anxiety. After all, it took a lot of work for us to adapt to lockdown life and the restrictions imposed and it takes time for the human brain to learn new behaviours, and it’s not something we can simply ‘undo’. It is not realistic to expect to simply revert to a pre-pandemic way of living.
You’re not alone if you’re feeling unsure or even anxious about how life may look again. This may stem from fears about socialising again or the continued threat from the virus. Autonomy is key at this stage. While there is a government framework to exit lockdown, we can utilise our autonomy in how and when move forward and to try to not get caught up in comparisons with others. We also may be concerned with how to manage interacting with people again in a safe way while not causing offense. We’ve had to part with much of our own autonomy over the past year and it’s important we feel able to utilise our autonomy going forward within the frameworks and rules for risk management.
‘WE HAVE TO FEEL ABLE TO SAY ‘NO’ IF WE DON’T WANT TO SOCIALISE IN A PARTICULAR WAY’
As a psychologist, I have over 20 years’ experience in helping people manage their emotional wellbeing. I’m passionate about helping people to formulate their own difficulties and develop strategies to achieve and maintain their wellbeing goals and I know this pandemic has had an impact from the rise in the number of referrals to my clinics.
It may be helpful to consider how each stage of the ‘exit’ plan looks for you rather than focusing on the long term right now. Many have revaluated how we live our lives over the past year – our social circle, working from home and the pace at which we live life. We may want to be more assertive over what we want and don’t want. For example, feeling able to say ‘no’ if we don’t want to socialise in a particular way. We need to be kind to ourselves and allow time to adapt to a new way of living while avoiding the trap of ‘catching up’ with life again at the expense of our own emotional wellbeing. A combination of autonomy, risk management, altruism and hope are the beginnings of a way forward.