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Published: 24 March 2021

Mental Health & Coming Out Of Lockdown

While most people are extremely excited by the prospect of coming out of lockdown, it is understandable if you are a little worried or not ready for another big change so soon. Some might feel pressured to suddenly be more sociable than they are comfortable with, or others are worried that the virus isn’t completely gone. Both reactions are completely natural. If you are one of those who are nervous, or know someone who might not be ready for such a change, we have a few tips that may help…

Pace yourself – Don’t be pressured into going back out in the world straight away. Go at the speed you need to; you don’t need to do everything again straight away! Try slowly re-entering the outside world, perhaps start by meeting with a friend in a comforting location. If you’re concerned a friend might be worried, try to not pressure them too much to meet up or join an activity with you. Invite them, but accept they may not be ready just yet.

Talk to people you trust – it’s important to talk about how you feel. Voice your concerns and any worries you may have to people you know and trust. It may help take away some of the social pressure! You won’t be alone. If you worry none of your friends or family will understand, call the Samaritans, or schedule a GP appointment, and tell them how you’re feeling. The Samaritans will be a comforting listening ear, or your GP can guide you in the right direction if they feel you need any further or professional help (such as therapy or medication).

Feel your feelings – remember it’s OK if you’re unsure how you feel or are not ready to go back to “normal”. As we stated above, talking with others can help, but sometimes it’s important we just acknowledge our own feelings. If we try to ignore our feelings of unease or sadness, we can create a bigger problem for ourselves. Try writing about your feelings, asking yourself “what are these feelings trying to tell me?” or going on a walk and having a mental conversation with yourself. Remember, it’s OK to feel the way you do – don’t judge yourself or tell yourself you’re suppose to feel another way!

Focus on the present – it can be challenging when the world keeps changing so drastically and the media reports everything as breaking news. Try to take a step back and focus on smaller things day-by-day, such as what you need to achieve in that day or look at the positive things around you (e.g., flowers blooming, birds humming). Try some mindfulness meditation too, which is one calming way of bringing your mind back to the present moment.  

Talk to work – Many workplaces are allowing more flexible working even if people need to return. If you’re anxious about heading back to the office, try and schedule an appointment to talk with your boss. It’s important that your work tries to help with any reasonable requests you may have when it comes to mental health. Try to talk about your concerns and ask to see your options. We know it’s not an easy topic – but you might be surprised at what your workplace can do to help. Please note, if you have or have had longer term mental health problems, you may be entitled to reasonable adjustments as a disabled person under the Equality Act. Please see here for more information.

Reward yourself – it might seem silly, but it’s important to celebrate or congratulate yourself when you push aside nervous feelings and do something or achieve things you didn’t think possible. Even if you manage to walk to a local coffee shop and back home – celebrate it. Pat yourself on the back, you did it!

If everything still seems overwhelming, please visit a GP and talk about your feelings and how they are impacting your life. There is also a list of mental health charities who provide some great services, such as a listening ear or advice for the workplace. Just click here to see that list.

Published: 24 March 2021