Caroline shares her tips for dealing with life after the lockdown.
With lockdown restrictions slowly easing in most parts of the UK, many of us are excited about the opportunity to return to shops, pubs and restaurants and reconnect with friends and family (albeit some distance away). For others, including me, it was not so easy to adjust to this strange “new normal”. If the idea of getting back to life after being locked out is making you stressed or anxious, there are three things to keep in mind:
1. Things might feel strange at first – and that’s fine.
Between wearing a mask (please do!), Navigating one-way systems, and queuing outside of stores, it’s clear that things are not the same as they were in March. This is, of course, a worrying time in our entire lives, and it is perfectly normal to feel worried or scared, especially in public spaces. Indeed, the thought of trading the tranquility and comfort of our bedrooms for the socially distant hustle and bustle of the local high street could understandably overwhelm us. To counteract this type of emotional overload, bring some “comfort items” (like headphones or jewelry that you can fidget with) with you to the next place you want to visit. By engaging just one of your senses in an activity like listening to music, you may feel better able to calmly process the situation.
2. Baby steps are still important steps!
For me, the key to getting out of lock has been careful and gradual exposure to situations that I know are triggering my fears. Rather than jumping headlong out of my comfort zone, I took a “small and frequent” approach to exploring life outside of home. Try to regularly expose yourself to new environments in a way that feels challenging, but without pushing yourself to a breaking point. Don’t let anyone pressure you to take too big a step. For the most part, jumping at the deep end will just keep your fear going. Instead, if you go a little further each time, you’ll build positive habits without unnecessarily torturing yourself.
3. You have already experienced a global pandemic this year – make it easy for yourself!
The past few months have put us all to the test. It can seem like a whole new set of challenges comes up with each new day. Remember to take your time to recharge as well as you adapt to a faster pace and a busier social calendar. A complete change doesn’t happen overnight, but a small step forward can. Try to keep track of how far you have come and use a journal to write down everything you have achieved so far. From the supermarket shopping to the dreaded visit to the hairdresser, your achievements deserve recognition!
Go on – you have this!
For more information on managing your mental wellbeing during the Covid-19 pandemic, please visit the Student Minds website. You can also find more information about Student Space, a new collaborative mental health program that supports students during these challenging times, led by Student Minds.
I’m Caroline, a senior year student with a passion for mental health conversations! I decide to share my experience on the blog in hopes of challenging the lingering stigma of those living with mental illness.