Covid 19 brought varied challenges for so many and adjusting to life as we knew it prior to Covid 19 is presenting yet another challenge to adapt to.
During Covid restrictions, we were not meeting people face to face, we stopped catching public transport, we stopped meeting with people at work, our local connections at sporting facilities and meet ups were all on pause. Now, as we take the steps to start meeting up with friends and family face to face, it might feel odd to break out of the small bubble you had at home. You may find that connecting face to face is not as straight forward as you may have thought.
Some may feel a deep sense of caution around Covid cases continuing to be found in our community. It is possible that some of us may have doubts about meeting with others, going to the pub or catching public transport. Whilst work may expect you to attend from the 1st July, some of us may not feel convinced that this is appropriate and safe.
Coping with overwhelming feelings of fear and caution: The Black Dog Institute has put together a very useful list of strategies to guide you through easing back into “normal life”:
Take it slowly – Simple things like doing the grocery shopping, driving a car or spending time with friends might feel strange as you move back into your post-lockdown life. Take note of how you feel and consider speaking to your GP if feelings of anxiety persist or worsen.
Rebuild your relationships – It’s been a while since you’ve physically seen your friends and family members – and remember, they’ve changed as much as you have. Spend some time together processing the experience, rebuilding bonds and supporting one another as you move into the next phase of your relationship.
Look for opportunities: The Federal Government is offering heavily subsidised undergraduate and postgraduate certificate courses for people who have been financially displaced by COVID-19. If you’re looking to enhance your current skillset or to retrain in a new field, a new qualification could help you move forward.
Seek help early – Everyone reacts differently to change. Feelings of anxiety, difficult sleeping, changes to your appetite, irritability and bouts of crying are all signs you may need some extra support. Speak to your GP or visit the Black Dog Institute website for mental health advice and resources.
Reflect on your experience – Rather than focusing on going ‘back’ to your old life, take some time to think about whether the lockdown experience could help you make positive changes going forward. Have you realised you want to work less, exercise more, make more effort to spend time with friends and family? Make a list of new habits you’d like to embrace and start implementing them one by one.
Remember the advice – Wash your hands regularly, keep a safe distance from others and keep up with the rules as they change so you know what you can and cannot do. Remember these rules have been very effective at keeping the infection rate low in Australia.
Try to give yourself time to ease back. the initial hesitation will ease and you will find yourself being less self-conscious, open to connecting with colleagues and parents and school drop off (at a distance of course). If you are finding that your unease is starting to lead to feelings of stress and anxiety about life returning to “pre-Covid 19 normality” then it may be useful to speak with your GP about a referral to meet with a Psychologist who can support you to reduce fears, adapt to life with the thought of Covid 19 still present in our communities, and return to regular levels of interacting and connecting with our social world.