How do we prepare to go back to our old routines, and are there any lessons we can carry into the rest of our lives?
It can be hard to imagine going back to ‘normal’ after all that has happened, and continues to happen across the globe. However, inevitably, life will carry on and it is worth putting some thought into how you are going to prepare for life after lockdown.
Tips for returning to ‘normal’ after lockdown:
- Assess any positive habits you have learned that you want to continue, or negative ones you should leave behind
- Take it slow, reintroduce things one step at a time
- Plan ahead for how you may deal with triggers
- Remember to be kind to yourself and give yourself a break
Depending on where you are in the world, lockdown restrictions may have started to be relaxed or lifted and you might begin to be able to return to some form of normality. You may experience a whole range of emotions about life returning to the way it was before. You may feel apprehensive about the thought of returning to work, or readjusting to a workplace environment after working from home. You may feel relieved that you can come and go a little more freely. Or maybe you are feeling anxious about how accustomed you have become to lockdown life. Regardless of whether you are feeling more positive or negative towards change, it is absolutely normal to feel this way.
By taking some time to prepare yourself for how you will get back into the swing of things, you give yourself the best chance at a seamless transition and limiting any potential shock to the system.
Tips for returning to life after lockdown
Change is uncomfortable for most of us, but it is out of change that we can make real growth. Over the last few months, we have had to adjust to a whole new set of rules, re-evaluate what is important in our lives and consider the future from a whole new perspective.
What positives can you take from lockdown?
Just as every cloud has a silver lining, this experience likely will have positive lessons you can take forwards as well. Maybe you have used some of your free time to learn how to cook. Maybe you have made a habit of exercising. Or maybe you have just learned to give yourself a break, and practise some self-care every once in a while.
After speaking with a few of the team members at One Year No Beer, here are some of the best lessons they have learned from lockdown:
“This whole experience has taught me to take my mental health seriously and not ignore it, like I did in the past. It has also taught me how important it is to reach out and ask for support, to open up to people, to offer help, to be a part of a community or a group who have got your back. It’s a very empowering and freeing feeling.”
“I realised how important it was to have faith in my booze-free self. I have thought in horror at how I would have handled lockdown when I had a really toxic relationship with alcohol and relied on it all too much to get me through things. I have also come to value the importance of communication, especially when you can’t rely on seeing someone face to face to converse with them.”
“The last few weeks in lockdown have taught me how important it is to take some time out of our hectic lives to focus on things that make us feel content and satisfied. That will be different for everyone but it's super important to be kind to yourself and do what you love, even if it is only for a few minutes a day.”
It is worth reflecting on your lifestyle throughout lockdown, and making a conscious effort to carry on some of your new habits, or conversely, leaving some habits behind.
Preparing for the new norm, one step at a time
Depending on your location and the restrictions in your area, there will be a variation in the rules still in place over the coming weeks and months – and it’s important to note that you should always listen to the guidance set out by your local government. However, as we are allowed to return to some of the daily activities we did before, we can begin to slowly introduce your old routine. It may feel overwhelming to throw yourself back into your old life all at once, so instead, take one thing at a time.
If your sleeping pattern has changed, try setting your alarm clock for when you used to get up before. If this is a struggle, build back up to it gradually, try setting your alarm 10 minutes earlier each day until you are back to your regular sleep schedule. If you have been living in pyjamas or loungewear, start putting on ‘outdoor’ outfits. If your screen time has skyrocketed over the past few weeks, try to reduce the amount of time you spend watching TV or on your phone. Pick up a book instead, even if it’s only a few pages at a time.
It can be tempting to want to ‘just get back to your life’ but to avoid undue stress and anxiety, be patient with yourself and take things slow.
Plan ahead – what might you need to prepare for?
Being in isolation may have shielded you from some of the social pressures or other responsibilities facing you in life, so planning ahead to ensure you are prepared to handle these is crucial. For example, the ‘Friday night drinks’ crew might be looking to rekindle old traditions, and if you have decided you’d like to stick on the alcohol-free path for a while longer, it is worth you having a plan in mind to avoid temptation.
If stress is a trigger for you, then putting measures in place for how you will cope with feelings of stress and anxiety in a productive and healthy way, such as exercise, meditation or reaching out to a friend could make all the difference if things get tough.
If you haven’t been able to work due to business closures, but are patiently waiting to be told when you can get started again, you can begin to get yourself prepared for working life by planning your commute, reaching out to catch up with colleagues or looking out your work clothes. This will help to get you back in the working frame of mind.
Remember to give yourself a break
Probably one of the most important messages we could convey to you during this time is to remember to give yourself a break. We could never have anticipated the impact of this unprecedented event, and how this could influence our daily lives. Even as things begin to normalise, we are likely to experience ripple effects for some time.
In order to preserve our mental health and avoid overwhelming ourselves with unnecessary pressure, allow yourself time to get acclimated. There is no one right or wrong way to feel about our new world. All you can do is make the right decisions for you and your loved ones and proceed in the knowledge that OYNB is here to support you if you need.