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Adjusting to change and life after lockdown

Our Head of Mental Health Education, Ezra Hewing issues some advice to help those worried about returning to work.

If some of us are feeling a bit anxious about adjusting to life after lockdown, this is completely natural. Anxiety is nature telling us that we need new ways to meet emotional needs when situations are about to change.

Our emotional needs include the need to feel safe and in control of our lives; to share attention with people who make us feel valued and respected; to feel connected to others and the wider community; to have private time and space to reflect; and to feel that we achieving and that our lives have meaning & purpose.

The good news is that our brains are especially good at learning new patterns to adapt quickly. And, even better news is that we already know a lot of what we will need – we just need to gently reconnect and remember old patterns.

It may also be that lockdown has allowed us to give better attention to the people we live with, and to learn from hobbies and interests. And we want to keep the positive learning from lockdown.

Here are 4 things we can do to help meet emotional needs:

Take note of what you learnt during lockdown

  • What did you really miss? Which people and activities do you value more as a result?
  • What has given you a sense of meaning & purpose? This may have come as a surprise…
  • What are the benefits from lockdown that you want to keep?

Keep the positive new patterns

To keep the benefits of lockdown, plan time which allows you to:

  • Share emotional connection with the people you have become closer to
  • Share meaning & purpose by playing and learning with your children
  • Take control of screen time by only using screens when they’re really needed. Limiting screen time saves your attention for learning and loved ones

Who did you really miss?

  • Put some time aside to think about how you will reconnect with people you have missed
  • Are their people at the gym or in activity groups you have missed? Note down your favourite memories of being around other people who share the same interests and activities
  • Think about how you will reconnect. This could be by phone, email or messaging, but some people have taken to writing letters and postcards to give things a personal touch

Reconnect, one step at a time  

If the thought of returning to work, dropping your children off at school or being around groups of people feels daunting, here are some strategies to gently reconnect with these patterns:

  • Choose one familiar thing you can do first. This may be a familiar journey you haven’t taken for a while, perhaps a walk in a park, the journey to your place of work or to the shops. If there are a few things you need to reconnect with, do them one at a time 
  • Try and recall how it felt the first time you left your children at nursery or school. And then remember how quickly those difficult feelings passed as you got used to the routine
  • Take time to notice how you feel as you adjust to old routines. It may feel just like picking up a conversation easily with an old friend you haven’t seen for awhile
  • It’s often easier to do things with other people. So arrange to take a walk or a journey with a friend and then a small group of people, while keeping safe distances

Author: Kristina Brinkley

Posted on: 4th June 2020

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