Emerging from lockdown
Emerging from lockdown
We are all looking forward to life getting ‘back to normal’ again at some point in the future and it will be important to think about what it will be like as we come out of lockdown. For many, I suspect most, it won’t be back to anything, but moving forward to new way of life. Whether this creates a sense of relief or a terror or a bit of both will depend on many things. It could be an exciting prospect or a frightening one.
On a very simple level we have got out of the habit of meeting new people, or even old friends and family. Beginning that again could feel quite overwhelming and it may be important to do that slowly, meeting with a few people to being with. Pacing ourselves with small amounts and possibly for a limited time could be helpful. And it will be important to be aware that our bodies may well feel quite uncomfortable being with other people again. The impact that we feel from being with others, could feel quite unusual for a while. This isn’t something to worry about, it is just our bodies getting used to the physical consequences of being with people again. We respond to people, we are impacted by them and if we haven’t been doing this much for a while it might feel a little unusual. It will also be a delight to be able to talk to people, to see how they respond, to be with them.
Then there is the social impact of being with people, what are our expectations of them and them of us? What are they thinking, what ware we thinking, do we enjoy their company, feel comfortable with them. Are they getting too close, staying too far away? It is important to stay with what feels right and comfortable for you. Remember they may be feeing a bit uncomfortable too, and that is likely to be an explanation of why things might feel a bit distant between you. If social anxiety, feeling uncomfortable when you are with people is a common experience for you it could come back fort a while till you get used to being with people again. So give yourself time to get used to it. Take the time to reassure yourself that it is OK to be a bit uncomfortable in the short term.
Some people have told me that they feel vulnerable, reduced, and weakened as a consequence of this lockdown. There may well be some truth in that as you may have done less exercise, eaten more, over the last few months. Again I think it is important to reassure yourself , that this is not out of the ordinary, and you can do something about it. Mostly by giving yourself time to practice being out and about again and get used to it. Starting, or carrying on, doing some physical exercise will be really helpful. It doesn’t have to be much, walking locally, an on-line exercise class, the swimming pools will open again soon if that is what you enjoy. This could give you a sense of being back in touch with your body again, and by paying a bit of attention to it through exercising, this will help you feel less physically vulnerable. The sense of being reduced is probably a reflection of having had less social contact, fewer experiences than usual, fewer people to talk to about what is happening to you. So going yourself an opportunity to slowly get involved in more things, take notice of what is happening around you, talking to people about what it has been like for you and what you might like to do now.
Talking to other people is usually a good way of beginning to respond to these feelings of discomfort as you may find out that others feel the same, that they may well understand you, or they feel something different which is also interesting - how we we all respond to the same things in such diverse ways. When you meet someone and ask them how they are, do you actually want to know? Are you willing to ask ‘But how are you really?’ when they say ‘I’m fine?’. we all know this lockdown has been tough for a lot of people and sharing that experience could be very helpful.
There are also the lucky ones for whom it has been a joy. An opportunity to do their own thing in their own way, at their own pace, for whom coming out may feel like a return to the old social pressures. Giving yourself permission to do things at your own pace rather than feeling you have to meet the wishes of other people could be helpful here. If you have created a way of living that works well for you experiment with keeping some bits of the new routine now that thing are changing, remind your self how good it felt to e less pressured.
The most important thing I suspect is to engage with other people in the way that feels comfortable to you. We are social creatures and it is important to recognise that and enable ourselves to feel comfortable with that again.