Many people will have spent weeks adjusting to a new way of living as the COVID-19 pandemic led to ‘lockdowns’ around the world.
Thankfully several countries are now reporting they have moved past the peak of infections and lockdown restrictions are gradually beginning to ease and businesses are reopening. Linked to this many places are ramping up COVID-19 testing and contact tracing plans to prevent the need for further restrictions or a so called ‘second wave’ of infection.
However after what for some has been a very extended period in lockdown, you may find that adjusting back to normality proves equally challenging. So how can you get your life back on track after lockdown?
Accepting the “New Normal”
Much of the global media focus when restrictions were first put in place was on when people would be able to get back to ‘normal life’. However in recent weeks it has become increasingly clear that we must instead accept a ‘new normal’, at least for the time being.
At first we may find it challenging to adapt, particularly from a mental health perspective, but there are two key points we need to accept which will help make the transition period easier. First, any restrictions that remain in place are there to protect your health and the wider global community, helping to save lives. Second, view this new normal as a staging post on a journey back towards what life was like before the pandemic.
You may feel anxious about certain things that didn’t bother you before, such as being out of the house for extended periods or in crowded places. This is a perfectly normal reaction and remember that your new normal might be different from everyone else's. If being under lockdown has made you re-assess your life and what you do with your time, view this as a positive time to take steps to live life the way you want to going forward!
Returning to Work
As businesses re-open you may find yourself still able to work from home either temporarily or as a permanent change. However, if you do need to return to the office, you might want to consider what you can do differently.
Your employer will likely implement social distancing rules and other restrictions in the workplace as per government advice. If you have any queries or concerns, you can ask your HR department or manager for more information.
From a personal perspective, you may also be worried about using crowded public transport to get to work. If you are able to, consider whether there are alternative routes you can use to avoid public transport; walking or cycling for at least part of your journey if possible will not only help to reduce your contact with others. Ideally you should review your travel to work plans before you are asked to return to the office.
Some people may not be able to return to the office straight away if they have specific vulnerabilities to COVID-19, so consider what is best for you as per local public health advice. And if you are back in the office, remember to stay connected to those who may not be, to ensure they still feel part of the team!
Meeting Family and Friends
Meeting loved ones we haven’t seen for weeks, except virtually, is likely to be the first thing many of us will want to do.
However you should always follow the restrictions put in place in your local community, particularly when it comes to protecting the vulnerable and elderly. In many countries there are still restrictions on the number of people allowed to gather in public spaces or restaurants, so you may need to start small and see what works best for your family.
One option is to try and meet up in outdoor settings, such as walk in the park or bicycle ride, as evidence points to COVID-19 transmission rates being much lower outdoors in comparison to indoors. Depending on the restrictions in your location, you may not have spent much time outside recently, so take advantage of the open space before heading to a bar!
Maintain New-Found Good Habits…
Lockdown has been tough for the majority of us. Yet for many people, it was also an opportunity to break the cycle and potentially adopt new habits and behaviours, learn a new skill, or take up a hobby.
Getting your like back on track might mean you suddenly find yourself busy again with little free time in your diary. However, try to maintain some of the positive habits from lockdown, whether that be making time for exercise or cooking healthy meals at home. Keep these up, and you will reap the rewards long-term. You can even involve your friends and family in your new found healthy habits!
…And Ditch the Bad Habits
In contrast there will be some of us who may have fallen into bad habits during lockdown. If lockdown saw you eating lots of comfort food and your exercise regime fell off a proverbial cliff because the gym was closed, getting back to it might be hard. The best thing to do is start over. Don’t punish yourself for letting things go during this difficult time.
You can quickly re-adopt your good habits, however don’t try to do too much at once. Start small and take it one step at a time; consider downloading a fitness app or seeking help from a trainer who can help you to gradually build up your fitness levels again. If you’re finding it difficult to get out of a rut, then reach out to friends, family members, and even your employer for help.
If You Had or May Have Had COVID-19
While there are many people who have fortunately been able to recover from COVID-19 and test negative for the disease, it might be months before those that were infected recuperate fully from the experience – both mentally and physically.
If you were hospitalised or diagnosed with COVID-19 by a medical professional, you would have received guidance about your long-term recovery. However if you were in self-quarantine or isolation having experienced symptoms of the illness at home, you may not have been given any medical advice.
It’s important to take care of yourself and not try to over-do it as the world returns to normal. Take advantage of the slower pace of life you may be experiencing as lockdown eases, and if you do have any concerns or lingering symptoms, consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Getting Life Back on Track After Lockdown
Getting our lives back on track after lockdown will be both exciting and daunting for many of us. While we will find ourselves needing to embrace new ways of living and working, it’s important to stay positive and view the lifting of lockdown as one step on the road back to how we wish to live.
Whatever lockdown was like for you, embrace the opportunities getting back on track will give us, and focus on what you need to do, to ensure you can continue to live life to the full.