“Just as it took us time to find ways of coping during lockdown, we should also expect that it will take time to find our way back and to reconnect with life.”

From 17th May, all of Scotland is expected to move to level 2 regarding lockdown measures. This means that cafes, pubs, restaurants, shops, hairdressers, gyms, libraries, cinemas, stadiums and more, are all allowed to open.

You’ll be able to meet socially in groups and even stay overnight at people’s houses. In England, the 12th April saw most of these businesses open (albeit with outdoor service when it came to hospitality), and from the 17th May it is likely that bigger groups will be able to meet indoors, go on holiday together, attend weddings, go to bar mitzvahs, and more. Wales too, between the 26th April and 3rd May, saw gyms, outdoor hospitality, and outdoor visitor attractions open, with increased capacity for weddings outside of up to 30 attendees. Finally, Northern Ireland has a projected date of 24th May to allow for the mixing of households in homes and has meanwhile opened outdoor hospitality venues (among other changes). 

Since 2021 began, the speed with which coronavirus numbers and restrictions have changed is enough to make anyone feel dizzy. We saw in the year with heartbreaking and scary figures, enduring the hardships and fear surrounding January and February. Then suddenly March came along, with promises of lifting restrictions and a brighter future. After living under the heavy cloud of this pandemic for over a year, finally, it seemed as though hope was just around the corner – taking the form of increasing vaccination figures and lockdowns lifting. 

Yet after months of anxiety and fear – a time in which so many of us struggled with our mental health, often reaching crippling lows – we now face the rather tall order of snapping back to ‘normality’. We’re expected to jump back into social events and busy calendars, to book the pub ASAP, to see the friends we haven’t connected with in months; all in the context of a pandemic that is still surrounding us, and still affecting people globally in horrific ways. And for many, after being forced to normalise the realities of the pandemic and lockdown living, this is maybe a bit overwhelming.

Luckily, if you are feeling overwhelmed, various Mental Health charities have put together their top tips for stepping out of lockdown.

Mind wants everyone to remember that it’s okay to not feel ready – periods of change are inherently stressful! There’s no ‘normal’ way for you to feel and your feelings might change daily – just remember that it’s okay to want to ease yourself back in at your own pace.

The NHS has put together practical tips for how to cope in this strange time. They suggest making sure that you don’t avoid things entirely – take things at your own pace, organising maybe one or two things a week or waiting until a few weeks after the restriction has lifted, but without completely isolating yourself. Other suggestions include making a new routine (which features time to relax as well as time to socialise!); planning social occasions so you have all of the information and know when they start as well as when they end, and opening up to people about how you feel. 

Finally, the Mental Health Foundation suggests pacing yourself and building up a tolerance. They also urge you to remember this: 

“Just as it took us time to find ways of coping during lockdown, we should also expect that it will take time to find our way back and to reconnect with life. Things may not be the same as they were before.”

Remember to take things easy and tell people how you are feeling. There will be a lot of people in the same boat as you, who feel pressured into pretending they’re fine with the pace of change! Take some time out to think about what you want to do, and take things at whatever pace suits you best. 

By Alice Ruby Foulis for Studenteer

© All Rights Reserved, Studenteer 2021

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