In my mental health practice, feelings around the easing of lockdown restrictions have been a persistent theme with clients. For many creating personal meaning from what they have weathered over the past year is critical to how they take control of post-lockdown.
The global pandemic has had an impact on all aspects of our lives.
What has been revealed is we may have all been on the same rough sea, but we have all been in very different boats. The wave of intermittent lockdowns has meant many have had to work harder, to just keep their boat buoyant and not be becalmed or even sunk.
Whilst for others the easing of restrictions has been something to yearn for. As the milestones out of lockdown chalk up, they have jumped at celebrating their restored freedoms with diaries full of brunches, hair appointments and hugs, all signalling ‘hope’ that we are taking even greater strides towards ‘normality.
For others, this new and changed world is now a source of increased stress and anxiety, despite how desperate they are to see their families and pals.
The virus hasn’t gone away, the mask-wearing, the social distancing remains alongside ‘vaccines, variants and third wave’ public health’s cautionary messaging. All of which adds to many peoples’ feelings of apprehension.
What we do every day becomes our norm and comfort zone. Being told that we can now pick up our ‘old lives’ can feel surreal given that the world feels so different. Feeling increased stress and anxiety is only natural when relearning to be in a world we haven’t inhabited for months.
When we do something that’s new and different, our brain is set up to give us a little spike in stress. It’s our brain’s way of saying “you haven’t done this in a while, stay alert and be careful.” That’s just our ancestral survival response.
Life in lockdown has offered many of us a comforting cocoon. A rare space to slow down to take a breath, re-evaluate our lives, work out what’s important and what we value for ourselves and our community. Some people have made personal discoveries about who and what they want more of in their life, resulting in decluttering more than just their cupboards.
But more freedoms can bring their own mix of conflicting feelings of relief and dread. Discovering how we can reassure ourselves, at our own pace during this change is critical.
Here are 5 fieldwork practices to brave your re-engagement with your everyday life.