We have all had different experiences during the lockdowns, and all of us in some way will have been affected by the pandemic and the stress that the past 18 months has brought on us.
As of August 2021, the figures indicated that over 75% of adults in the UK were doubled vaccinated. Schools and universities are operating as usual, people are returning to the office and cultural events are back on: things are opening up, life is resuming.
For some, lockdown may have felt claustrophobic, depriving and interminable, and the lifting of restrictions has been celebratory and brought joy back into our lives.
For others, things opening up may feel daunting, and you may feel apprehensive. The lack of social interaction over an extended time may have left some feeling awkward and unsure of themselves in social situations, as if we need to relearn how to socially interact. This is an ordinary response, and go easy on yourself – start by introducing shorter social interactions and build up gradually.
Others may feel anxious about catching the virus, or infecting people. We all have different tolerance levels to threat, and what we can live with, and the key is to find what you yourself are comfortable with. It is OK to say no to certain social gatherings if you do not feel you can stay safe, or to wear your mask when others are not. You can’t change other peoples behaviour but you can be responsible for yourself.
Another phenomenon I am seeing in clinic, is an emergence of feelings that have been kept at bay during the pandemic. This may be the result of having to keep going and survive the pandemic. This could be due to pressures, whether that is from family or living dynamics, attending university online within the family home and without the social stimulation, work commitments, juggling children and homeschooling, furlough or a crisis in work such as redundancy or the drying up of work, or being a carer, and having lost the things in the external world that are depended upon to keep life interesting and meaningful.
I have been struck by how important routine things in our lives are. How important a sense of enjoyment is to balance out life’s commitments and pressures, its role in keeping our mental health balanced: things such as going to the gym, playing or watching sports, being part of a community group such as yoga, choir, art, swimming, or dance. Being able to meet with a friend or friends. Being around people, in a public place. Being alone in a crowded public place. Being able to eat out, or enjoy living culture: theatre, music, exhibitions, events.
These things are important because they create a work/life balance, something to look forward to, and meaning. Without them, some people may have felt more affected by the negative aspects of the pandemic, and found it more difficult to cope. Coping may have taken up all of your mental space and emotional capacity.
Now that we are returning to a semblance of our previous lives, there may be space now, for the negative feelings or mindsets evoked during the pandemic, to become apparent. Because these were not able to be processed at the time, (and were repressed due to survival needs), it may feel overwhelming. It may cause anxiety. Things may seem confusing, or you may be struggling to make sense of and understand why you are having this experience. If this is the case, then talking to a professional can really help.
I am available to provide you with the support you need, either online or in person. It is easy to arrange, and you are welcome to a free 15 minute telephone consultation to see if therapy might be right for you. Call or email me on 07710 819 485 or firstname.lastname@example.org.