As we begin to prepare for a gradual return to “normality”, the roads are becoming slowly busier and life is returning to high streets and city centres once more. The strides towards returning to our workplaces, shops and restaurants, seeing colleagues, family and friends again, is welcome by many.
But, with the threat of a potential increase in cases, the looming possibility of localised lockdowns has already become a reality for some. And having spent months social distancing with periods of isolation, the thought of being in proximity and interacting with others may be a daunting prospect.
That’s why we’re giving you some quick tips to help you plan your return to normal.
In the words of Aristotle, “Man is by nature a social animal”. So, it’s not surprising that we’ve seen more and more people start to struggle with their mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic. For some it’s been coping with isolation and social distancing, while for others anxiety is beginning to creep in around a “return to normal” and what that means for them.
For those struggling due to the aspects of isolation and social distancing, self-care has never been more important. It’s important not to underestimate how you can support and maintain your positive mental health through exercise, diet, mindfulness and using technology to stay social.
We should also consider our family and friends who are more cut off than usual. Taking the time to check in with them and ensure that they are okay can make the world of difference to a person’s outlook.
For those facing a spike in anxiety around leaving the house and being in close quarters with others for the first time in months, it’s important to explore where your concern is stemming from. Is it because you’re deemed to be more at risk than others? Or do you fear going back to interacting with people in group situations? Are you comfortable with your behaviour, but worried about other people’s?
Whatever the reason, it’s advisable to talk about your feelings with somebody you trust. When the jump from not socialising at all to suddenly commuting and working in an office with many people feels too big, you could take a step by step approach. Why not try to go out on short excursions or social events prior to the return, to get yourself used to being around others again?
Humans are not the only ones who will feel the impact of lockdown. For those of us with pets, our furry friends have offered comfort during times of lockdown and isolation. It’s expected that separation anxiety in our pets could appear where not present before, or increase, as a result of us returning to workplaces and socialisation.
A recommended tip for supporting your pet in managing this transition, is to prepare them by taking small trips out of the house without them for short periods of time. This will slowly support them in adjusting to your leaving the house regularly again, with the knowledge that you will soon return. If you feel that this has become a problem for your pet, you should consult your vet for further support plans.
Staying alert and safe
As we all strive to slowly get back to our usual lives and routines, the threat of infection rates rising and being put back in lockdown is a real concern. It is vital that at this point that we all remain vigilant around localised news and advice, while following best practice and rules to protect ourselves and others.
If we can all follow this guidance, staying alert and safe, then we have an opportunity to return to normality more quickly. If you need to locate the advice and guidance currently being offered by the Government and Public Health England, you can access this information via the .GOV online portals and NHS website.
Sometimes we all struggle and need support. If you feel that your anxiety around returning to the workplace is having a detrimental effect on your mental and physical health beyond your control, there are dedicated support channels available that you can access.
The charity Mind charity has a wealth of support, information, advice and guidance available for you to access free of charge. They also run regular support groups in local communities, many of which are now online – www.mind.org.uk
The NHS website has a host of information and signposting to support that you can access for free. You can also discuss your concerns with your GP or NHS 111 should you feel the support you require extends past what is available through these online channels – www.nhs.co.uk
However you’re planning to return to ‘normal’ just remember that it’s ok to admit you’re struggling, and the bravest thing a person can do is ask for help.