As I write this it is Monday 12th April 2021 and in the UK we have started the process to ease out of our third lockdown in this country since the Covid-19 pandemic started to hit us in March 2020. Schools re-opened on the 8th March so our kids have been back for three weeks out of this whole year so far, it’s now the Easter Holidays.
Two households can meet in a garden, the rule of six applies to outdoor meet ups and from today non-essential shops can re-open their doors. It’s exciting, it feels anxious and it feels familiar. Familiar in many senses because we’ve been through this ease before and in the sense that we get to experience things that are familiar to us as well.
There are many feelings right now for all of us. Some of us might be chomping at the bit and so excited to get “back to normal” and others might be feeling super anxious about being around people again outside of our own little bubbles. So how can you ease out of lockdown in a way that feels right for you?
The UK Government have outlined their roadmap for everything – friends and family, shops and activities. This is what they are planning for in terms of the ease, but this roadmap doesn’t have to be your roadmap. Yes we need to follow what it allowed and when but what I mean is just because things open up when they do doesn’t mean you have to jump in if you’re not ready.
For example, when it comes to meeting up in a park with friends. This is allowed now and up to groups of six. You may feel like a group of six is too much to start with, it might feel too overwhelming despite how much you want to see all your nearest and dearest. Think about what works for you and what you feel comfortable with.
Look at the roadmap laid out ahead and make a note of keys dates and allowances that matter to you and think about what you feel comfortable with and how you would like to navigate it.
This is really really important and ties into what I was talking about above. We have all been affected by Covid-19 and what it has done in different ways and we’re all going to be feeling how we’re feeling about it. This is a time more than ever, and actually an opportunity to get better at this too, to talk about how you’re feeling and to accept how others are feeling too.
If you are feeling like things are moving too fast for you and you don’t want to start doing all the things talk about that and because you’ll be clearer on what your roadmap looks like from above you can communicate that too.
Using the same example, if you have friends or family who want to get straight into meeting up in the park as a six but you feel this is too much for you to start with communicate that. I know it might feel hard to do and the people you say it too may not like it, especially if they are excited to see you but this is where compassion and understanding matters so much.
Explain that it feels too much for you, talk about how you’re feeling and offer a suggestion that feels more comfortable i.e. “I don’t feel like I am ready for that and a big group, could we start with a garden visit just you and me to begin with?”
As I said, they might find this strange if they’re feeling in a different place to you but if you don’t say they won’t know and you can end up doing things because you think you should and not enjoy them. It’s better to own our truth with this and then enjoy the experience.
Same goes for if you are the one who is so excited and has a friend who is feeling anxious. Listen to them and accept how they are feeling. You may not like it, I get it, you might have been so excited and it feels strange they don’t feel the same, but acceptance is how we then move forward. Be open, accept and be supportive. This is going to be a tricky time for many of us.
Throughout the last year and the easing of various lockdowns I’ve heard the term “back to normal” used quite a bit. I’ve even said it myself on occasions. But if I think about it will we get back to normal? Something like this changes so much, it changes us as individuals, units and society and along with other events that have happened in the last year outside of the pandemic is there really a back to normal?
What about a new normal? I’ve heard and again said this quite a bit too, but I’m not sure even that sits quite right with me.
There are many things that this pandemic has changed for me and taken me out of what was normal that for a lot of things it’s made me realise there was stuff about my old normal I didn’t like anyway. Stuff that I don’t actually want to go back too because this has provide a real catalyst for change. Change for things that I just wasn’t making happen before and I don’t want to go and press a reset button and head back.
This got me thinking about a term that feels right for me and I chose “the new different” because it will be different. There will be lots about it that will feel familiar but there will be a lot that is different and unknown to us still and I feel like this has optimism about it.
So to end on the tips here I invite you to think about what feels right to you in terms of what you call this next phase of the year and our journey through the pandemic. Think about what you would like to see happen, who you would like to be in this phase, whether normal sits right or whether different feels better. Whatever works for you.
I hope those tips have helped and I hope we are now on a longer journey towards living our lives again and being with the people we love.