Braving our new world as we move out of lockdown and into Level 2 means businesses are reopening, more travel and activity outside of the home is allowed, education facilities reopen and we are permitted to gather in limited group numbers.
This is great right??
Errr yes but… It brings with it a whole different set of worries and tricky things to negotiate as we bravely enter our new world. The world inclusive of COVID19.
We enter it as a society changed, shocked into fear, anxiety and submission to those in power as together, we curtailed the ravaging effects of the virus. We’ve been told to “act as if we have the virus” and treat others as if they have it. Unfortunately, staying safe has come at the expense of our usual level of trust.
It all happened so quickly too. If you recall a day in early March you may have been at the beach like me, carefree and happily planning more days like it until the cool temps of Autumn lessened the temptation.
Within weeks our worlds turned upside down and we were confined to our homes, some with careers or jobs hanging in the balance and facing a very different set of daily tasks.
I can’t speak for the individual because our own circumstances, state of health and resilience largely determined our experience. However, as a general observation we coped well with the ups and downs of this new existence, we can’t deny the adaptability of humans to their circumstances.
And now we must adapt rapidly again and dig deep for more strength and courage, more resilience and more stamina to get through this next phase.
I think most of us knew, a few weeks into lockdown that we were never going back to the same world we closed our doors on in mid-March. Our way of life was altered dramatically for just long enough to comprehend a ‘bounce back’ wasn’t on the cards. And yet it was still hard to predict what issues we would be facing, coming out of lockdown.
So how are people feeling?
I’ve been asking my community over the past week what concerns they have about moving into Level 2 and braving this new world and here were some of them;
“Being able to see friends and family but not being able to hug them.”
“Having visitors (to the rest home) but they can’t come near my bed or even touch me.”
“Our family being separated again after this period of bonding, especially as the school age kids go back to school and leave my youngest alone again at home wondering where everybody went.”
“Dealing with all the new workplace practices and protocols, all the cleaning, sanitising and distancing that we’ll have to incorporate.”
“Ongoing travel restrictions, borders remaining closed and the cost of flights when travel is eventually possible, will I be able to afford to visit my family or go on holidays?”
“Keeping my workers safe, allowing people to still have a good retail experience while adhering to the government guidelines.”
“My kids don’t want to go back to kindy and daycare, there’s been tears when I mention it. We have to go through the whole separation anxiety thing all over again.”
“I really don’t want to rush back into hectic routines, driving everyone here and there and spending half my life on the road.”
“I’m worried about a second wave of the virus and the fact that people can be asymptomatic but carrying it so it could be anywhere.”
“I’ve saved so much money that I honestly wouldn’t have been able to without the restrictions, now I’m worried I’ll go straight back into my spending habits because take away coffee and lunch is just easier.”
“Striking that balance between going at my own pace back into social gatherings and not offending others who are ready to rush back into catch ups and parties.”
“My husband has really enjoyed working from home, not having to commute and being here with our family. It’s 3 more hours a day he gets to spend with our son and we don’t want that to end.”
These are all legitimate concerns about this new post lockdown phase and there are a ton of universal ones on top of this. I think many of us have some anxiety about the state of the economy and how deep the recession will go; the long-term outcomes of the virus and how it will be controlled and whether any short term benefits to the environment due to lack of transport will vanish as we all jump back into cars and race into our old habits.
Yes, there are some pretty big challenges ahead but if you doubt the resilience and adaptability of the human race just go and read some history books or watch a documentary on any story that involves adversity. We can do this, that part I don’t doubt. However, we may need to take it slowly and put some buffers in place to ease our way back.
Here are some tips that might help;
Reflect on what you loved about lockdown or at the least what eased some pressure for you, be it financial, time, work, relationships etc. Even if this period was financially stressful because you lost income, see if you can think about where you saved money by not spending it how you would normally. Even if you couldn’t see anyone outside of your bubble, did it help highlight for you how stressful a certain relationship has been? Even if you couldn’t do what you normally do for work or leisure, what did you learn and how did you compensate or pivot? Either write your thoughts down or discuss with someone close.
Set your intentions
Now list some goals, actions or intentions as a result of your reflections that you wish to take into the next phase; E.g. Personally I’ve loved doing short online yoga videos at home which I aim to continue. I also realised I was driving long distances to the city for some things I could probably find locally so would rather support local and spend less time in the car. I’ve loved having proper chats with friends on Zoom rather than frantic short texts, DMs and PMs so this is something I want to make the time for going forward. Finally I’m into home cooking again and while we have some great local takeaway businesses that I want to support I’ll just be more intentional and go there because I want to not because I’m feeling lazy.
Let go of what you can’t control
Continue to work on releasing those worries and concerns that are completely outside of your control and only working with what lies inside your sphere of influence. For most of us I imagine, the development of a vaccine, the economic health of airlines and what others think of us is outside of our control. Hanging on to anything we don’t have the power to change is a deadweight on our minds so it’s crucial to learn how to release it. See the link at the end of this article if you would like some further ideas and support with this.
Go at your own pace
This means incorporate parts of your old life back in only when you are ready, not to please anybody else’s timeline. If you don’t listen to and honour your own comfort levels with social gatherings and activities they will feel awkward and stressful rather than uplifting so go at your own pace. This requires you to exercise assertiveness and diplomacy, great confidence building skills to practice.
Negotiate the terms and conditions bravely in your new world
Remember all of us are trying to figure out how to do this. That means your boss, your coworkers, your family, your friends, your teachers and your kids. Right now is the time to ease pressure by sitting down with people and working out a win-win situation where everyone can feel at ease in their role going forward. Chances are, your input into helping others figure out how to do this will be much appreciated so do speak up and have a say in how your new world is being shaped.
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop” – Confucius