by Heather Andronicos
Just as many of us begin to feel a sense of rhythm around life in lockdown, we have been told another set of changes are on the horizon. New plans for easing coronavirus restrictions have been met with overwhelming relief, as they deserve to be. The government’s new roadmap out has been won through the hard work of the Australian people sacrificing individual freedoms to help flatten the curve and protect our most vulnerable. Overall, it has been a beautiful example of the power of community pulling together to make something greater than the sum of its parts.
While the idea of emerging from lockdown may conjure thoughts of everything going back to ‘normal’ and the blissful monotony of our old daily commute/work/school routines, it’s highly likely that things won’t fit the pre-coronavirus picture for a while yet. We know that for groups of people who have been through high levels of crisis, change and uncertainty, the road back to ‘normal’ can be a more scenic route.
So, where does that leave us? For many, the concept of another purgatory of constantly shifting rules and compulsively checking for signs of a dreaded ‘second wave’ of infections may create reluctance to even start this new phase. Here are some actionable tips on how to start preparing yourself for the transition.
- As if
We’ve all known at one point or another the abject despair of returning from a wonderful holiday on a Sunday evening, only to have to face the prospect of a return to our work/school commitments bright and early the next day. Now consider the fact that none of us have been on a wonderful holiday recently, so aren’t even well-rested and probably have the opposite of a tan. Rewiring our brains and bodies for our old daily lives may take even longer given the length of this non-holiday we’ve found ourselves in, so start early acting as if you’re back in the swing of things. Once you have a rough idea of your transition timeline, start mirroring your old routines a few weeks ahead as much as you can. Try waking up at the time you would need to in order to catch your usual train, work the rough hours you usually would, and have mealtimes reflecting the family’s usual non-quarantine timetable.
2. I think we need some space
For those who have been at home for extended periods with their families, now is the time to start giving one another space. Children and pets especially may have really enjoyed your increased time in the home, and it’s important to honour these feelings and have honest conversations about how the changes will look for your family (this may be slightly more important for the children than the pets). Try to spend time each day in different parts of the house from one another to build up resilience for solitude again and increase the time gradually. It also may not hurt to have some ‘quality time’ together scheduled as a family over the next few weeks, to send the message that you will not suddenly be too busy for one another.
3. Culture shock
Although many of us will be itching to run off to the nearest beach/café/gym as soon as possible, suddenly going from none to all can make it even harder to mentally adjust. Gradually reintroducing your favourite activities outside the home, and in line with the most recent government advice, will also decrease the likelihood of overcrowding in our favourite public places and reduce the risks.
4. Assert those boundaries
While we’re talking about government advice, it’s important to remember that state and federal government are usually the most objective and up-to-date source of information about what’s happening. Sourcing your news directly from them can help separate fact from fiction and cut through the noise of social media and clickbait. There are many subjective interpretations and speculation on what could happen next out there, none of which is helpful for your peace of mind and decision-making in the moment.
5. Gently, gently
You and your loved ones have been through a lot. We have all just lived through several months of destabilisation on a global scale, the likes of which most of us have never seen before. It’s also reasonable to expect that the aftershocks of this could be felt for a long time. This is why it’s critical to be kind with yourself and resist the urge to put pressure on you and your family to suddenly feel functional and ‘normal’ again. Pretending this never happened because you’re sick of thinking about it could only push any lingering feelings down. Through acknowledging that things feel weird and different, or that you feel scared, you are not only honouring your feelings, but sending the message to those around you that it is OK not to be OK.
6. This feels a bit weird for everyone
By operating from a place of kindness with ourselves and others during this time, we bring a sense of common humanity to whatever happens next. Instead of drawing focus to what people aren’t doing correctly, try to remember that your friends, boss and the government are all people like yourself, dealing with a crazy situation and doing the best they can with what information and resources they have at the time.
7. Actually, I’m not OK
It is so completely normal to feel out of sorts, unsure and a bit scared at the moment, even as things are getting less restrictive. It’s often not until after the fact that the residual effects of what we’ve been through really sink in. Many of us will process this in our own time and will find things to help anchor and soothe us. However, if you start to feel that you need some extra support in processing or transitioning out of this experience, crisis numbers such as Lifeline (13 11 14) or BeyondBlue (1300 224 636) are available 24/7, and the Lilley Place team is also here for you.