Why does getting ‘back to normal’ make me feel so uncomfortable?
One thing that has become apparent over the last few weeks of lockdown easing is that not everyone is desperate to get back to ‘normality’. Many people are struggling just as much with the easing of lockdown as they did going into lockdown at the start of the pandemic.
Firstly, and importantly, there is nothing wrong with you if you have these feelings. Our practiced behaviours become our ‘comfort zone’ and when we try new or different things, we can feel anxious and stressed about it. Our ‘normal’, (comfort zone), activities have become confused, and we just need to reconfirm what ‘normal’ is to our brain.
As we continue to be surrounded by news updates of new strains, conflicting advice and evidence which for some is hugely anxiety inducing after being hypervigilant for a prolonged time, it’s no surprise that we can feel reluctant to go shopping or out socially for coffees and meals. The pressure of getting back to ‘normal’ can feel very real regardless of vaccination status.
We have asked our practice doctor, Dr Alia Fahmy for her thoughts on how to avoid lockdown easing related anxiety.
“Those who are vulnerable or struggle with mental health issues are particularly susceptible to anxiety related to ‘getting back to normal.’
We should be ready to accept and understand that for a lot of people coming out of lockdown will be as hard as it was going into it and as such, we need to be ready to make suitable adjustments for friends and family that may be struggling.
We should also be ready to recognize that if you do feel that way, it is ok. You are not alone, and it is perfectly understandable. Do not be too hard on yourself.
Lockdown has had a significant impact on people’s mental health. That can be in the form of depression, anxiety but also in cognitive function. For many people who have been alone in this, they have missed out on the stimulation of human contact and socializing. This will have had a profound impact and is not something that will simply switch back to normal once the government set a date for normality to return. It will take time, patience, and hard work for many of us.
What we must remember is that we need this level of interaction, the conversation, company and eventually hugs which boost oxytocin levels, which heal feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger.
Remember that those things that helped us when we went into lockdown will help us again now; healthy eating, exercise, being out in nature and social contact are going to be just as important.
There is no rush. Things will take time for things to return to normal, so although you may not be desperate to get back to the pub or coffee shop now, you will get there, eventually.
Take things slowly and at a pace you feel comfortable with. If you do not want to go out to that restaurant in a group of 6 just yet, how about a walk in the countryside followed by lunch in your garden.
With time and when you are ready, you can start to challenge yourself a little more. Keep a record of what your aim is and how you tend to get there. Celebrate those steps that you make and be proud of those challenges that you have conquered.
Don’t be afraid to talk. Tell your friends and family how you feel. They will understand and be there to support you. If you have a friend or family member that is reluctant to come out, talk to them. Ask them what they feel comfortable with and how you can support them.
We will get back to normal but how and when will vary from person to person. We are all in the same storm together but travelling in different ships.”
Dr Alia’s Top Tips:
- Do things at your own pace.
- Set yourself small challenges.
- Reward the small wins.
- Talk to friends and family.
- Exercise, relaxation techniques, and fresh air will help you feel stronger and calmer.
- Remember that you can do this.
Concierge Medical are a private GP practice and have been providing comprehensive, award winning general medical services to registered members in the Cotswolds and Warwickshire since 2013.
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