A clinical psychologist gives her tips on getting back to life after lockdown
The most common thing I have seen this week since welcoming back face to face sessions with my Sydney clients, is that they are all feeling quite overwhelmed.
We’ve all been fantasising about lockdown ending for so long, that it can be very confusing when it does happen. Some clients have enjoyed the time at home with their families, others have struggled but still feel anxious about things returning to normal; but the most common concern is social anxiety about returning to normal life and the pressures that
come with it.
Here are my top tips for anyone feeling overwhelmed or anxious as life returns to the new normal.
1. It's ok to not be ok.
Talk about it with friends and family. Chances are they are feeling the same things or at least share some of your concerns. As the old saying goes “A worry shared, is a worry halved”. Talking to your family and friends about what you are feeling will make this journey easier.
2. Break down your goals of returning to your new routine in stages.
Just like learning a new skill; give yourself steps to transition into your “old life”. Instead of back to back bookings of social events, try setting only a handful of engagements, for a few hours, once weekly and gradually moving things back to normal. It's better to do things in an enjoyable way rather than forcing things to be 'ok' immediately.
3. Ditch the FOMO!
Try to limit comparison to others and run your own race. People will have different experiences with lockdown and have different needs and fears. With this in mind, stay attuned to yours and don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
4. Silence the inner critic
We all have that negative talk about what people think of us, how we look, and return to feeling judged as we venture out socially after not having had to do so in ages. Our biggest challenge will be to silence our own inner critic.. Use breathing and mindfulness techniques to quieten down these unhelpful thoughts. Meditation and visualisation can also be very beneficial.
5. Keep the routines that worked for you during lockdown.
Opening up doesn't mean ditching the good things that came out of lockdown for you. So if you managed to get your diet or exercise right, make sure you incorporate that in your new routine. Also reflect on where you are now and what you’ve been through. Now is the time more than ever to be kind to yourself.
Dr Aileen Alegado is the Director and primary clinician at Mindset Consulting in Sydney, Australia.
As a registered clinical psychologist she is passionate about helping people reach their potential.
She is an advocate for mental health awareness, is a regular media commentator and is involved in the training of other clinicians as a board approved supervisor for the APS.