Updated: Apr 28
With the promise of the end of lockdowns and restrictions being dangled in front of us like a carrot, many people are chomping at the bit to be let out. But, you’d be forgiven if you weren’t feeling quite as excited as many, and after the year we’ve had, it’s perfectly normal to feel slightly apprehensive about life returning to normal...
You baked banana bread; you’ve grown your hair - you’ve grown a beard!!
You’re now fluent in French, you can play the harpsichord, you’ve been for 995 walks and the cat was decoupaged in October. You reconstituted your old knicker elastics into a resistance exercise workout contraption (and hooked them to the back of the bedroom door), you’ve meditated, baked more banana bread, shaved your beard, cut your hair and painted the living room pink whilst watching every Netflix that's ever been made.
Here are my top tips to help prepare for life after lockdown:
Like the coming of a new season, I think the first thing to appreciate is that you’ve survived thus far and now it feels like (touch wood) everything is getting better. The world feels as if it’s getting safer… it’s even getting lighter in the evenings, the clocks go back, so that's hopeful and is affirmation that brighter, warmer, longer days (with less rain) are ahead.
Spring is a time for re-growth, new life, optimism, colour and by focusing on the positive, appreciating how far you’ve come; and, that the end is near (for lockdown) might help you keep going just a while longer!!!
If you’re not feeling all that positive about that – something I’ve done to help me is the consistent playing of binaural beats (in the background whilst I work) and recorded affirmations (when I head off to bed), followed by 15-20 min meditation and 10 mins of positive affirmations when I wake up. This is not an immediate fix but playing them consistently over time makes a big difference for me. To help support long term change commit to doing this for 2-3 months. Imagine how you’ll feel when it’s Summer!
PROCEED WITH CAUTION
We’ve have had the benefit of a much slower pace of life for the last 12 months and whether that’s been hard for you or if you’ve loved it, it was certainly needed for those that burn the candle at both ends. If your instant reaction is to cram your diaries with as much social activity as possible to make up for lost time, my advice would be to proceed with caution and take it slowly. Yes – we all want to see our friends and loved ones as much as possible, but after 12 months of seeing people mainly on Zoom and largely hibernating indoors, this may be overwhelming and leave you wanting to retreat back home sooner than you ever could have imagined.
Many people will have developed some level of social anxiety and going from zero to a hundred is never healthy for anyone. Rather than burning out and stressing yourself out by committing to social engagements that you may not feel ready for, try living a little spontaneously and freely to give yourself room to adjust. Make sure you still schedule in that essential ‘me time’ every week and if you feel like skipping the odd brunch or catch up with friends, it is ok to do so!
RETURNING TO THE OFFICE AND LARGE SOCIAL GATHERINGS
You’ve been safe in the cocoon of your home since lockdown started and haven’t had to worry about someone coughing all over you in the office or brushing past you in a busy bar. Going back to these settings is going to be overwhelming for many of us and again my advice is to proceed with caution.
Take bitesize steps towards this, if you know it is likely to cause you some stress and anxiety. If you are anxious about going back to the office, make sure you have an open line of communication with your boss and explain your fears, perhaps you can arrange to come into work and leave early, to avoid being crammed on public transport during busy commute times, or sit at a different desk by a window you can open for fresh air.
Above everything, be kind to yourself. If rushing back to life pre-lockdown doesn’t feel right to you, then go at your own pace. Only you know when you are ready for certain situations and it’s important not to let outside pressures get on top of you.
GOAL ORIENTATED EXERCISE
Many of us aren’t feeling or looking our best at the moment and I don’t know about you, but the thought of putting on a pair of jeans is scaring the life out of me after living in jogging bottoms since March 2020!!
My best advice is to start now and gear up to the end of lockdown with 2-3 months of consistency. Whether it’s regular exercise, being more mindful of what you eat, keeping a food diary or buddying up with a friend for accountability, this is a great time to start and get yourself prepped and primed for life on the outside. As the endorphins from the exercise kick in and you start seeing the results you will also feel a lot better about yourself both physically and mentally and this will help you feel ready to take on the world again!
BUY AN AVOCADO
So many people have had garden envy or even balcony envy during lockdown – being couped up with no-where to go and it’s no surprise that the most sought-after property right now is a detached house with a garden.
How fantastic to be able to sit out and enjoy the plants around you, it’s so relaxing – but what if you can’t and are stuck in an apartment!? Answer: bring the outside in and grow your own plant on your windowsill and improve your mood at the same time.
Studies have shown how growing plants can help support the reduction of anxiety, stress and really help boost your mood.
The avocado is a great plant to grow (from the stone inside the fruit). Firstly eat – which is part of your new healthy eating routine - then, simply spear the stone with a couple of cocktail sticks and then sit the stone in a glass of water, which you will top up every day to just cover the bottom (I’m sure there’s a YouTube video out there to show you). Taking care of the plant is a metaphor for taking care of yourself. It's also a simple and daily reminder to love, nurture and look after ourselves too.
What’s wonderful is to see the progress, as the avocado sprouts and starts to grow and how rewarding and mood altering the effects of that can be.
I hope these ideas help inspire you to make some positive changes and improve your mood over the next few months. Whatever you’re feeling right now, it’s ok because many of us are feeling the same, just remember to prioritise your health and wellbeing and check in on those who might need help around you too, it could make all the difference.