Going into lockdown was strange, and for some people, coming out of lockdown is going to be just as strange! I don’t know about you, but when I’m watching something on the TV these days – since there’s nothing else to do – I’m usually presented with a film set in a club, restaurant, or some crowded bar, thinking, ‘Ooh! Wouldn’t be allowed to do that now!!” Now, when I see old photos of me and my friends without masks on it makes me uneasy and nostalgic for days before the pandemic. I imagine life before face masks, social distancing, and unemployment when I had a social life and could go see my loved ones. I remember what it was like hugging friends and family, I remember all that time I took for granted and it feels weird!
Lockdown was a huge change! Most of the world had never been through anything remotely similar. People were losing businesses, jobs, and even worse, loved ones! The shelves were empty, people were fighting over toilet paper and pasta, eventually, the shops made us queue to buy rationed food. Non-essential shops were forced to close, along with any kind of fun activity and before we knew it we weren’t allowed out of our homes unless absolutely necessary, we lost physical contact, and we lost our freedom.
We adapted though, we got through the dark times, created new ways to contact each other, different ways to keep ourselves entertained and happy until eventually, lockdowns were normal, as became face coverings and social distancing. We have slowly fought this virus and are equipped with the hope that things will reopen, people will connect again, socialize, work, just LIVE!!! While the majority of us are excited that excitement comes with a mix of fear and worry. Even though it was once normal life it’s not anymore and it’s something we all have to get used to. We’re slowly getting back into a routine – say goodbye to lounging around in your tracksuit bottoms. Say goodbye to unhealthy diets, smoking, drinking, and messed-up sleep patterns that have been the go-to for a lot of people during the pandemic.
We’re about to face early mornings, large crowds, work, and responsibility. If you’re worried though you’re not alone, in fact just a couple of days ago as I was working at the University Covid-19 testing site and a woman came into the booth for testing. And before I could even give her instructions floods of tears broke out, her body started sweating and shaking, and hyperventilating – she was having a panic attack!! At first, I thought she was concerned about the testing procedure but after I calmed her down and we spoke, it turned out she’d not been out of her house since November! This lady admitted she found it strange and scary to be surrounded by people, the University she once loved working in felt really and going back was going to take some getting used to.
I chatted with her, reassured her how there’d been no positive tests for weeks, and how students had started appearing in the hallways, full of smiles, excited to see things back to normal. We spoke about how out of lockdown, the weather would be warmer, the spring flowers would be blossoming, and morning skies would be blue (when we didn’t have that cloudy England weather). She did her test and left with a smile on her face! In case you’re a little worried about coming out of lockdown I’ve put together a few self-help and motivation tips to get you back to reality!
Ditch the bad habits!
Research shows cigarette and alcohol sales have experienced a massive increase in sales throughout the pandemic! In addition, people have adopted some pretty unhealthy eating habits. Some people haven’t had the tools, money, or motivation to cook a healthy well-balanced meal every night, others miss the restaurants and took advantage of takeout. As you’re slowly coming out of lockdown – get more active! Not only do scientists recommend 30 minutes of daily physical activity for many beneficial health reasons but it also helps with mental health such as anxiety and depression and helps you get motivated – not to mention it’ll help you fit back in those tight pre-lockdown jeans! More physical activity outside in nature and fresh spring air means less time sat on the sofa boozing!
Plan and schedule!
Make plans and goals! Plans give us something to look forward to and goals help us work towards achievements. Maybe book a trip! Sure, it’s daunting with the way of the world at the moment, but it’s also something to look forward to and now we’ve learned how to make things safer. So whether it’s next month or next year, get yourself some plans to look forward to!! Goals! We’ve had a lot of thinking time on our hands! I know many people who have found new hobbies and even changed careers after some forced time out, so use the next few weeks to set yourself a goal to work towards, whether it’s the job you’ve always wanted or the sport you’ve always wanted to try! Do it! After over a year of being stagnant, set yourself a new challenge, work towards it, and watch your skillset grow!
Don’t hide away behind the curtains or in front of the tv, nip social anxiety in the bud by connecting with everyone and anyone! With tons of ways to socialize virtually, it’s accessible to almost everyone. Talk to people, tell people how you’re feeling, tell them you’re a little nervous about work. Send a co-worker you wouldn’t normally talk to an email. Now is the time to talk to people online, it’s safe, it’s easy and there are so many ways to do it. You’ll more than likely find somebody who is feeling just as nervous or even as excited as you are. You can grow bonds and go back out into reality together!
Take nothing for granted!
Remember the long days at work when we were tired and we wished for a day off, a lazy day on the sofa! How times changed! Or the times you were too tired from working all week so you cancelled your plans for a night out. The plans you’d cancel with friends, grandparents, or loved ones because you could go another day. Time is precious and so is life! Take no one and nothing for granted! After a lot of time and life lost, you go to every event, meeting, or whatever it is you do! GO! Enjoy yourself, one thing you can never get back is time, so enjoy every minute!
Everyone’s had a tough year in their own way, so be kind to people. You don’t know what’s really behind anyone’s smile and after such a rubbish unsocial year, let’s be a little kinder to everyone. Say hi to a stranger, smile at someone on the bus, talk to your Uber driver, ask your waiter how they are, tell your co-workers you missed them, compliment a stranger…spread the joy!!
And last but not least enjoy yourself!!! You have your freedom back, go live and enjoy every single second of it!