How Are You Coping Following Lockdown?
The Impact of Lockdown
I feel like a tortoise, slowly raising my head above the parapet whilst wondering what aspects of my life I feel ready to reconnect with.
Writing about lockdown feels surreal, at times like waking up from a bad dream. The cost to human life has been so shocking and has affected us all in a manner of ways. Many people were robbed of saying goodbye to their loved ones, unable to be supported by friends and family, which is so tragic and inhumane. Many elderly have been confused as to why they cannot see their families. Home schooling whilst juggling jobs has been another pressure for many families.
The impact of coronavirus on our mental health cannot be underestimated. Many people have had to look death in the face and deal with the loss of a loved one in the most unusual and upsetting of situations.
NHS, Careworkers, Teachers and a host of other keyworkers have put their lives on the line to care for us, some making really poignant decisions to live apart from their families for the good of all.
I have been blown away by the depths of human kindness shown by so many, demonstrating such selflessness in times of stress. We have experienced human nature at its best with a pulling together that I have not witnessed in my lifetime.
Whilst scientists still know so little about this virus, it is natural that we may experience anxiety. We need answers and with this virus we currently have few of those. So, when feeling anxious and unsure, it is so easy for our thoughts and fears to spiral which affects our behaviour such as eating and sleeping habits. We can become more tense, less tolerant, less able to make quality decisions and generally less able to cope. This is due to our body feeling a threat (at the moment highly likely a threat to our health, security and general wellbeing).
What do you have control over? And remember, one worry at a time!
When we focus on what we can control, we become more proactive and motivated. By taking charge, we calm down our nervous system and reduce anxiety.
COVID-19 has affected everyone in a range of ways. If you were furloughed or face threat of redundancy, it is so normal for you to feel anxious, upset or fearful about the future. Whilst these outcomes are beyond our control, what coping strategies can you use to ease the overwhelm and the build-up of stress? When your mind is in charge and prepared, your body can relax a little more.
Returning to Work
Navigating a return to your place of work may feel daunting right now. A change of working practice is likely to take some getting used to. However, if working from home has gone well, is it something you are able to maintain or might the ideal be a balance between the two?
You may be getting used to working differently and need to get motivated by holding onto routines that worked for you in lockdown, for example:
· Maintaining a to do list
· Taking regular breaks
Work Related Stress
If you have been made redundant, consider what level of control you had over this decision. Whilst it is really unfortunate, remember we are in unprecedented times.
· Allow yourself to be vulnerable and ask for help and support as you need it. This shows you to be human and builds connection.
· Network with providers that can support you during this time whether they are Recruitment Agencies, Department of Employment and Networking Platforms such as LinkedIn to get your name out there.
· Be proactive by asking your colleagues to let you know when they hear about suitable positions.
Whilst it is understandable that you want to isolate yourself, staying connected to others in these times will support your mental health.
If you are experiencing heightened anxieties due to a potential threat of redundancy you may be experiencing a range of feelings and emotions including:
· Loss of identity
· Lack of self-esteem/worth
· Feelings of uncertainty
For those of you who have sadly experienced loss, you are having to come to terms with a world without your loved one which can be life changing and it is normal to feel that you can’t carry on without them.
The hurt caused by losing someone to Covid-19 so suddenly is traumatic to say the least and it will be a while before you are able to grieve due to the shock.
The Kubler-Ross Change Curve, which I have pasted below, is also known as the stages of grief and is a model consisting of the various levels or stages of emotions which are experienced by a person who is soon going to approach death or has experienced death close to them. The stages included in this model are denial, frustration, depression, experiment, decision and integration.
The Change Curve is a powerful model that can help one understand and deal with changes and personal transitions. When going through the stages of grief it is important to recognise the following points:
· Deep painful thoughts and feelings keeping you stuck are all part of the grief
· Grieving is not linear
· Your emotions will travel back and forth with grief being experienced uniquely for each one of us
What brings you joy?
Focusing on our physical and emotional health is really important, especially during this current climate. Our mind and body let us know when we need to pay attention to ourselves yet we don’t always listen. Below are some of the ways in which we can focus on our own needs:
· Spending time in nature – walking, gardening or relaxing
· Connecting with friends and family
All of these things will help to provide a sense of balance into our lives in turn reducing feelings of stress and overwhelm.
At this unusual time in our lives, I am sure many of us have noticed that we have taken more joy in the littler things in life. I am loving re-acquainting with my favourite coffee shop as well as enjoying the buzz of the high street. What excites you post lockdown?