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Adjusting to Life after Lockdown
With the lockdown ending after several months in Victoria, many of us are feeling a range of emotions, from excitement and relief, to stress and worry. Exiting lockdown after several months can lead to a range of feelings, from excitement and relief to stress and worry. While it may seem counterintuitive to feel anxious about returning to past freedoms and ways of life, it’s natural for such a major change to be stressful for some of us.
Families are hoping to be reunited for the festive season when more borders open and international travel resumes. Some people are eagerly anticipating haircuts and manicures, mammograms, and even routine teeth cleaning.
But what if you’re not excited about lockdowns ending? What if you’re anxious or apprehensive?
Here are some of the reasons people may be dreading reopening, and some strategies to cope with them.
You’re worried about getting COVID-19
The end of lockdown doesn’t mean the end of COVID-19. It’s very normal to feel nervous or even scared about catching the virus. You may be particularly apprehensive if you can’t get vaccinated for health reasons or if you have a child who’s currently ineligible.
It is anticipated that the spread of Covid-19 in the community will decrease in time with high vaccination rates. The best thing you can do to protect your mental health is practising self-care, reaching out to a mental health professional for coping strategies, and checking in with your trusted healthcare provider.
You like working from home
An Australian Government Productivity Commission report found that most workers want to continue working from home — for at least some of the time.
One perceived benefit of working from home is avoiding the commute (travelling to your workplace). According to the Productivity Commission, in 2019, full-time workers in major Australian cities spent an average of 67 minutes per day commuting. That’s more than 260 hours every year.
If you’ve been working effectively from home and it’s boosting your work-life balance, now is a good time to talk to your employer about continuing to work flexibly.
You like being in a “bubble”
Being cocooned at home may suit your personality, which may make the easing of restrictions less appealing. If you have social anxiety, the idea of reconnecting with people may heighten your fears and anxieties. Even if you’re normally very sociable, you might be worried that you won’t remember how to hold a conversation that’s not on Zoom.
There are many ways to help manage your worries about reconnecting — such as building up your social interactions gradually. Start small, with short interactions with just a few people. Work your way up to longer, more crowded situations — if that’s what you want to do.
You don’t want to lose lockdowns “good stuff”
For some, lockdown has its benefits. A survey by the Australian National University found that two-thirds of people cited at least one positive impact COVID-19 has had on them, such as spending more time with family.
You may have exercised more or been less busy. Lockdown may have given you the headspace to consider how you really want to spend your time or what your next career step should be.
But you don’t have to retire any new healthy habits just because you’ve been given more freedoms. Follow these tips from Beyond Blue if you want to hold on to the good stuff:
- Decide on what you want to keep doing — and why. Identifying the changes that improved your life is the first step. Remind yourself it’s worth making the effort to keep them up.
- Be prepared. You’re more likely to make unhealthy choices if you’re underprepared or disorganised. You could, for example, keep a pair of trainers under your desk for lunchtime walks or create weekly meal plans.
- Avoid thinking in ‘modes’: for example, ‘lockdown mode’ versus ‘post-COVID mode’. Separating mindsets like this can make it harder to maintain good habits, so try not to think in terms of ‘then’ and ‘now’.
To conclude, everyone has experienced lockdown differently and coming out of it will be equally unique. Expect a readjustment phase, engage with your support systems, and remember to stay in the moment!