Welcome to the latest in our series of bitesize blogs containing quick tips and ideas to help you build resilience and boost wellbeing.
With lockdown restrictions gradually lifting, many of us are presented with the opportunity to start rejoining the world again. But should we be leaping for joy and relief, or hiding in fear of the risks that may be linked with greater social contact?
This is a hard question to answer because so many uncertainties still remain. We all know that Covid-19 has not gone away. And whilst we are in a very different position than we once were, with a greater understanding of how to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe, there are many things we don’t understand. As a result, we are unable to make fully informed decisions about the actions that we take, whether that is going for a haircut or to a social function.
As part of this uncertainty, we might fear making the wrong decision, upsetting other people, or being judged. We might put pressure on ourselves to do the ‘right’ thing, question or judge ourselves and others against a yardstick of our own making. But, of course, the right thing will be different for each of us. And over-analysing our decisions can be paralysing, leading to anxiety, frustration and sadness as we struggle to work out what we should and shouldn’t be doing.
Weighing up your own priorities and considering what’s important to you will help to guide you in taking actions that are consistent with your personal needs and values. This is more difficult than it sounds. So here are some tips to help:
- Ask yourself: What have you been missing most over the last 4 months? Perhaps seeing family, going to the gym, or connecting with friends. Whatever it is, there is likely to be some anxiety about how to reengage with this activity safely. There might be frustration at the fact that you have been restricted for so long or rumination about whether you really should be taking this action now.
- Take a moment to accept the reality of the situation. Accepting things as they really are and not how you think they are means being aware of what is real right now, not what could happen or what you think should happen.
- As you start to think about these things, notice your breathing. Be mindful of it. Don’t try to change it in any way, just notice it and allow it to anchor you in the present moment.
- See if you can accept that the situation is difficult and that wished-for outcomes are not always guaranteed. You don’t have to like it but you do have to live with it. This is a useful place to start when dealing with uncertainty.
- Now you can make a choice. Ask yourself: What is my goal? What small steps might I take towards it that feel comfortable to me? Is this the right time for me?
Moving out of lockdown does not mean throwing caution to the wind. It is about taking one or two steps that are right for you, to reconnect you with the life you have been missing.
Remember: doing things that are important and have meaning to you is not just ok, but is essential for your mental and emotional wellbeing. So, try not to judge yourself or to worry that others are judging you, whether you choose to eat out at a restaurant, visit elderly relatives, travel by bus or go on holiday. We each must weigh up what it is we want and need, and figure out how we can do it as safely as possible.
If you found this helpful and would like to read more bitesize tips, check out some of the other blogs in this series. You might also like to join our Facebook group UR Resilient, where members are busy sharing creative and inspiring ideas for staying positive during this challenging time.