It’s been a tough year for all of us — and, as society begins to reopen, it’s important to remember that re-integration looks different on everyone. Whether you’re raring to get back to the office to see your team, ready to organise a belated house-warming or just want to nip out to your favourite barista before your first video call of the day, we’re all working at a different pace when it comes to moving out of the latest lockdown measures.
This, naturally, often leads to anxiety, frustration and impatience. These feelings are valid, of course, but it pays to recognise your thoughts and practise some self-regulating. Below, we share seven tips to help you manage your mental health as we begin to move forward.
Control What You Can
We all know the guidelines but adhering to them is an issue in itself for some. Things like wearing a mask, carrying hand sanitiser and washing hands frequently are all ways to feel more confident in your own safety, as well as the safety of others.
Take It Slow
If you’ve become used to the ways of lockdown life — which can include spending the majority of your day indoors, working from home and not socialising much — beginning to do the opposite can quickly become daunting as your diary begins to fill. Once you’ve recognised this and that millions of others are feeling the same around the world, remember to take things slow and avoid being self-critical at a time when it matters most.
Reintroduce Yourself to the Good Things
A year spent away from regular society will, naturally, make you forget how you felt before the restrictions came in. In your daily routine, take time to slowly reintroduce yourself to old hobbies and interests that you used to enjoy before ‘COVID-19’ was even a phrase. No need to force it but with time, you’ll find yourself getting back to your old routine at a pace that suits yourself.
Made plans to meet friends or family? Take some time to plan your journey, the likely interactions you’ll make and the situations you’ll be in. Some could make you overly anxious or frustrated during your journey, so look to travel during quieter times or avoid busy areas.
Keep Time to Yourself
It’s no secret that our social calendars took a hit during the past year and many of us have been spending time with just ourselves. While the temptation to go out and reconnect with friends, family and loved ones increases, be sure to block out some time to enjoy your own company and commit to your own self-care. Whether that’s getting regular exercise, quality sleep and cooking healthy, nutritious meals, this will provide a one-two punch to both poor mental health and your own fitness levels.
Talk to a Friend
If you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to reach out to a trusted friend for their reassurance and advice. Their feelings could match yours — or, perhaps, they’ve helped another person in a similar situation — it’ll help validate your feelings and help you feel understood. Alternatively, you can contact mental health charities including Samaritans (116 123) and Mind (0300 123 3393) for anonymous advice.
Refresh Your Feed
If people you know or accounts you follow are accelerating out of lockdown and their local restrictions, it can be frustrating to see people going at a different pace to what you’re comfortable with or how you plan to. In this case, make the most of the mute and unfollow buttons on your social media feed. It’ll help regulate fluctuating feelings and help you keep off social media itself.