We have all had different experiences during lockdown, but 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 jabbed. 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, 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.
Other people may feel anxious about catching the virus, or passing it on. 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 during the pandemic. This could be due to pressures on us, 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 joyous.
I have been struck by how important routine things in our lives are, how important a sense of play/joy is to balance out life’s commitments and pressures, their role in keeping our mental health balanced: things such as going to the gym, or your favourite group be it choir, art, swimming, or dance. Being able to meet with a friend or friends. Being around people, in a public place. Being able to eat out, or enjoy living culture: theatre, music, exhibitions, events.
Without these things that create a work / life balance, some people may have felt more affected by the negative aspects of the pandemic. And 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 feelings evoked during the pandemic, to come out. Because these feelings were not felt at the time, (and were repressed due to survival needs), they may feel overwhelming. They may cause anxiety. Things may seem confusing, or you may be struggling to make sense of what you are experiencing.
Talking to a professional can help. If you resonate with anything int his post, please reach out to me. I would be happy to discuss how I might be able to support you, 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, simply email email@example.com.