Practice the Pause Pt.3 | Managing your mind
Is it safe for me to return to work? Is my job still safe? Can I still do my job properly? Will I be putting my family at risk by returning to work? Should I be socialising? Are restaurants safe? How can I continue to avoid others? What if other people arent following the guidance and put me at risk?
Now can be a very anxious time for all of us. As we start to move away from full lockdown with restrictions gradually being loosened on an ongoing basis this can spark feelings of uncertainty and uneasiness. In some ways, the full lockdown imposed by the Prime Minister back in March yielded some form of certainty. The rules were clear and rigid, with everybody in little doubt about what they should do to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.
However, the gradual relaxation of these measures have blurred those parameters somewhat and this can give rise to feelings of uncertainty and enhanced vulnerability. In fact, an individual can be faced with a plethora of mental challenges as they navigate from the perceived safety of lockdown to one which may appear to be fundamentally different. What if the virus starts to spread again? What if I catch it? Should I be going to restaraunts? Is my work safe? How can I be sure I can keep my family safe?
As well as the worry about the impact the restrictions being lifted might have on the pandemic and your safety overall – the thought of going back to ‘normal’ after such a long time at home can also seem pretty daunting. After three months of spending more time along with very limited social contact, it's highly likely that going back to work and wearing something other than loungewear (the horror) is going to be a shock to the system.
For many people, lockdown has also provided the chance to slow down and put things into perspective, making the idea of returning to their pre-coronavirus busy lives anxiety-inducing.
Research indicates that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Many of us have now spent over five times that amount of time in lockdown learning to stay at home, and climatise to a slower and more solitary way of living. I know for myself, the thought of working, travelling, exercising, seeing friends and studying all in the one day seems just plan knackering at this point. So, your certainly not along if the panic of returning to a new normal has started to set.
To help, the EFL's charity partner, Mind have put together some poignant and accessible help guides with regard to looking after your mental health during this particularly challenging time. According to them, you may feel a range of emotions as a result of restrictions easing, including:
- Stressed and unprepared for the changes that are coming
- Anxious, afraid or panicked that the changes may cause an increase in infections. Or that someone you care about may now be put at risk when they weren’t before
- Angry or frustrated. Perhaps because people aren’t following social distancing rules, and now can't avoid them. Or you feel that the changes are wrong, or the measures in place aren’t enough
- Conflicted or confused. For example, you may want to socialise more if it’s allowed, but feel like perhaps you should still stay at home
- Protective of your lockdown routine, like you’d rather not have to deal with more change or uncertainty
- Grief for people who have died, and that you want to avoid more loss
- Reluctant or unmotivated
Some of the feelings you're having now may feel difficult to manage. For those of us with existing mental health problems, they may be particularly tough. As a result, they note that you may find it useful to try some of the suggestions below
- Get practical support from organisations who can help.
- Talk to someone you trust. If you aren't able to open up to someone close to you, you can call Samaritans any time on 116 123.
- Try online peer support.
- Make choices to control the things that you can. Although the coronavirus outbreak means that your choices are limited, try to focus on the things you can change.
- Seek help. If you are struggling with your mental health, it is ok to ask for help. A good place to start is by speaking to your GP, or your mental health team if you have one.
For further discussion about guarding mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit https://www.rehab4addiction.co.uk/coronavirus/mental-health-coronavirus