We’ve been waiting a year for this day to come- the gradual, yet seemingly final, end of lockdown restrictions. Some countries have already experienced this, some didn’t have to and others have a little longer to wait.
Whether this is something you’re going through, will go through or have gone through – the consensus expectation is the same. We’re expected to be over the moon. We’re supposed to be chain-buying outfits to go out: planning holidays left, right and centre: booking 2-hour-by-2-hour pub crawls: calling our hairdresser 40 times to book a haircut: maybe getting our nails done and basically within a few weeks become the post-lockdown show ponies that we feel, or maybe social media makes us feel, that we have to be.
If reading that list made you feel a little queasy rather than fully excited, you’re not alone.
We’ve had a year of silence, of 2D relationships and of time to ourselves. We’ve had a year of Netflix and chill-by-myself in pjs with snacks. A year of caps and messy buns, leggings and trackies, bitten nails, makeupless days, braless days and showerless days. We’ve had a year of pulling weird faces behind masks and using the lockdown as a reason to get out of events that we didn’t have the energy for. Some of us have had a year (or parts of a year) where we haven’t been in work, or haven’t left the house with shielding. It may have even been a year of grief, of losing loved ones and navigating a complicated grieving process. For all of the different experiences that we may have had during lockdown, one thing is the same across the board, a lot has changed.
It makes sense, then, that returning to ‘normality’ is going to feel daunting and I think the reason that it’s extra daunting is because we’re feeling a pressure to return to someone else’s normality.
Social media has become a major issue for me during lockdown. I scroll a LOT more and check my phone for messages more frequently. I then feel digital fatigue and find it difficult to answer those messages so instead enter a cycle of opening my phone, looking at unopened messages, stressing myself out, calling myself rude, putting the phone down and then repeating that process a thousand times a day. I’m currently working on reducing the time I spend on social media, whilst still being able to keep in touch with friends. If you have any methods or even apps that can help- let me know!
One thing that I’ve gained from this incessant scrolling is an awareness that my nerves about lockdown are heavily influenced by my newsfeed. Seeing friends booking nights out weeks in advance, or influencers who are already travelling and asking where is the first place you’re going to when lockdown ends? or even just seeing those before/ after shots from hairdressers, adds pressure. It reminds me that I haven’t booked a night out, a trip or a hairdressers appointment; that that’s what everyone else is doing and that I’m in some way lacking if I don’t do the same.
Now, I need to make clear that I’m not putting down anyone who may have booked a night out, a trip or a hairdressers appointment. We’ve had a year from hell and you deserve to do whatever makes you feel better! This feeling of lack and anxiety is entirely a me issue. I’m feeling stressed because I’m comparing myself to an impossible standard of collectively about 500 different people at once- that’s ridiculous and unachievable. We touched on this topic, about the dangers of comparison, in my post about Schadenfreude so give that a read too!
You are perfectly individual. You’re a completely unique pie chart of life, filled with experiences, memories, passions and hobbies that only you have- so when you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed from looking outwards and trying to find guidance from other people on who or how to be, look inwards and you’ll find the answers there.
You have survived this lockdown. You probably can’t appreciate it yet due to brain fog, lockdown depression and the fact that we still have a while to go, but you’ve done amazingly and you will continue to. You’ve survived lockdown alongside every other intensified difficulty in life that you have faced. You’ve kept studying, communicating, reading, expanding your watched-list, feeding yourself and maybe other people, practising skills and hobbies, questioned your priorities and allowed yourself time to rest and grow. You will come out of lockdown and there will be positives, you will enjoy it in your own way and when you’re ready!
If you prefer a quiet catch-up with your best mate rather than a massive bar crawl, then do it! If you don’t have as much money as the influencers on your feed to travel to Bora Bora, or you don’t want to travel to Bora Bora, then don’t! Go camping or take a day trip, maybe go for a hike if that’s your thing. You might have preferred life in lockdown, for many people it was a time of reflection and personal growth so don’t let that go! Head into post-lockdown with all the things you learned and loved, don’t feel the pressure to revert back or change the things you enjoyed!
Sitting and typing away in my usual seat in Starbucks with green tea and a chocolate muffin has been something I’ve really missed during lockdown. It’s not that fancy, I know, but it matters a lot to me; it gives me headspace and helps me to be more productive. So why would I prioritise other things that I’m not as interested in to fit in with other people?
Anxiety and excitement are sisters, they come hand in hand.
If you’re feeling nervous about the end of lockdown, that’s completely normal. Likelihood is, you’re a mix of both emotions, probably with a dash of fatigue thrown in.
My advice is to go into your post-lockdown life on your terms. Take everything that you’ve learned from lockdown with you; maybe it’s appreciating the little things, going for more walks, enjoying alone time or reinforcing your boundaries with people and saying no to things, not because of lockdown, but because you just don’t want to.
So, turn off your phone and get out a notebook, the paper ones with no wifi. Write out things that make you happy- as many things as you can think of. Then you can focus in on some things that you haven’t been able to do or things that you miss and you can start to make plans for them! You’re most likely going to have a lot of ideas; to go for a walk outside of your local area, to go to a festival, a nightclub, to visit family, to play D&D in person, to go to a cooking class, to get a tattoo, to book a cottage in the lakes, to throw a house party, to book a dentist appointment, to give someone a hug without scornful looks. You can get to everything on your wish list, so just pace yourself and prioritise.
Ending of lockdown is a celebration and you deserve to celebrate it in a way that serves you!
So, what are you looking forward to doing after lockdown?
Resources to help:
BHF- Coming out of lockdown anxiety
BUPA- 6 ways to manage post-lockdown anxiety