As the UK primes itself for coming out of lockdown on 21st June, and with the latest statistics showing that nearly 50% (according to Public Health England) of the population have been struggling with stress, anxiety, or depression, Mark Newey, founder of mental wellness education platform, Headucate.me, gives us his top tips on how to step back into our ‘new normal’ lives.
Hitting the High Street
Many of us have already taken our first steps back, whether that be school, heading to the shops, or dining in a pub. For some, the first steps back have been a great relief, but for others, it’s all been a little overwhelming and stressful. If you’re finding it tricky to get back out there, simply take your time. Just because the shops and pubs have re-opened doesn’t mean you have to be the first in the queue, perhaps take a short trip for a coffee and meet up with friends and see how you go?
People who have been self-isolating for health reasons will naturally find the return to the ‘new normal’ the biggest challenge, but only you can judge your own risk and decide what you want to do. Don’t feel pressured into getting out there too soon, but also don’t use your perceived fear as an excuse to stay at home either.
Heading back to the workplace
For many people, working from home has been a godsend; they’ve discovered newfound freedom to manage their work-life balance and save money on expensive commuter fees. However, for others, working from home has been lonely and challenging, so the gradual return to the office will be filled with mixed emotions.
If you’re concerned, don’t feel afraid to talk to your employer, they’re well aware that the pandemic has created the biggest change in people’s lives. If you have concerns about sharing office space or wish to change your pattern of working, again share your feelings with your employer and work together to create the ideal solution.
Reconnecting with friends and families
There’s a desperate rush to reconnect with friends and families. Grandparents are desperate to see their children and grandchildren, many will not have seen each other for months or over a year. During this time we’ve all changed. So, we have to realise that it may be tricky to simply pick up with friends and family where we left off. Many people have lost loved ones, been made redundant, some shut away with an abusive partner. So the last thing we should be doing is hiding our struggles or being ashamed of teetering into mental health issues; we need to be open and authentic and not hide. Friends and family should also ‘check-in’ on one another and delve a little deeper than the ‘I’m OK’ response to the inevitable ‘how are you?’
Also, bear in mind that not everybody will see getting back to normal the way we will. There will be as many people extremely anxious about meeting people and socialising again as those who are desperate to get back to normal and hug everybody. So if you’re a ‘hugger’, it’s essential to ask permission, rather than plunge straight in! We need to at least start by maintaining distance and then gauge how the other person is reacting.
Ultimately human beings are defined by two things: we are social creatures, and we are brilliant at adapting to changing circumstance. We will find a way to thrive again once more, hopefully taking the positive lessons of the pandemic and the lockdowns with us but, if we need additional support, we need to speak out and get help.
To find out more about mental wellness education, visit their website.