By Racheal Chapman
Had someone told us only a few short months ago that our schools would be closed, our non-essential shops would be closed, that you wouldn't find children playing on the swings of the local park on a sunny day - that they would NOT be allowed, we wouldn't be allowed out to celebrate a birthday with a meal, in fact we wouldn't even be permitted to see family outside of our household on special occasions... we would never have believed it. Never would we have imagined that our 'normal' would not be normal again for a long time. Ever maybe?
But how do we cope with that realisation? And when our economy slowly begins to open up again, when people dare venture out, how do we adjust and find some sort of equilibrium?
First and foremost, we have to accept that 'normal' may look very different to how we once knew it to be. That doesn't mean that it will be any less valid, that we will have any less of a life. Because after all, life is what you make of it. But we must accept the change. It's okay and normal to reminisce, it may even be good for the soul to think of times gone by. But it isn't healthy and nor is it helpful to spend our days wishing things could be different or hanging on to the past.
Accept that it may take time to find our stride again. We will need to ease ourselves in gently. For a while, many of us may feel a little numb, shocked, traumatised even. Therefore it is vital to be kind to ourselves.
During lockdown, many people have formed some good habits. Don't throw those good habits away. I for one have started exercising 4 to 5 times a week - something that I hadn't done since before having children. My body likes me (well after the initial pain!), and I have lockdown to thank for that. I don't intend on wasting the positive, healthy change when some sort of 'normal' resumes. Maybe you have been communicating more with loved ones, concentrated on buying and eating good food, taken up reading again... whatever those positive changes you've made, keep it up and incorporate it into your new 'normal'.
Share your experiences and thoughts with others. Be it a trusted friend or family member or a professional, ensure that you are allowing yourself to make sense of and verbalise what is happening. If you are worried about returning to work, share that worry. If you don't understand how your children will make the adjustment to returning to school, share that with someone. If you don't know how to cope without the same level of social engagements as before, share that with someone. Share your thoughts, your worries, your anxieties, your hopes. And problem solve together.
That's not to say that everything will be fixed. That's not to say that you'll wake up in 3/6/9 months time and you'll be 100% ok with what life now looks like. But we will get there, it will take time, and we will need to be kind to ourselves and others, but we've been doing that for the past few months anyway right?