Coming out of lockdown
One of our Parent Champions talks about lockdown restrictions easing and the effect this ‘new normal’ can have on people’s mental health.
Living in front of a screen in a reduced space for the past 18 months has meant a growing need for human connection. This resonates with a lot of people right now, whether you are single, in a couple, or in a family environment.
Not everyone has been desperate to get out of lockdown or to see the restrictions easing. However, for families – children and parents alike – there has been a stark awareness of a lack of community, the missing social element to our lives. In addition, the school/work routine offers a somewhat secure framework for the anxieties which, for some of us, may hover at the fringes of daily life. So we felt the loss of this.
Parenting, ‘home schooling’ and working, all in one space, is not recommended. But now we are facing change again. Easing ourselves out of lockdown involves shifting from these tense dynamics to what is actually quite an unexciting routine. It should be more similar to the way we lived before. But it is also strangely welcome and familiar, and maybe these mixed feelings are to be expected.
At the same time, many people will be facing worries about going back to another ‘new normal’ and what this might mean for our families, for our children, and for ourselves. Will our children catch up on their missed social skills? Being at home has meant that some children have fallen behind in developing maturity through social experiences. Others have grown up a bit too fast, perhaps imitating an older sibling or picking up habits that are now difficult to ‘undo’. It feels important to do what we can to take care of our mental health as we face these challenging effects of the lockdowns.
Looking out for our children and our partners is in itself demanding. We can only do the best we can, knowing that we are making use of the knowledge we have at hand. It is understandable that post-lockdown feelings of anxiety and worry may abound. Life feels scary and uncertain again, where before it felt more predictable and we had more control. These worries are likely to pass with time, and as we negotiate new ways of dealing with our new challenges. If we need to take it slow, and not rush back out into the world if we are not comfortable yet, that’s fine. The art of being kind to ourself begins anew.
Coming out of lockdown, we are looking ahead. Positive change has come too. Many families have valued spending more time together, with more time to bond, and laying good foundations down for the future. These have all been positive outcomes. Perhaps we have even seen new-found tolerance and respect in our relationships, or significant questions below the surface. Shifts at local and societal levels have meant we have had to collaborate, to pull together.
But as we balance all these things and find a way forward, we cannot ignore the trauma which many have experienced as a result of the pandemic. And that we are still living through these times. This calls for more mental health awareness, including that we talk about these changes and the impact of them, challenge unhelpful thoughts with those we trust, and find routine where you can as we focus on the present. We can only do our best, day by day.
It’s ok if you're feeling worried, stressed or overwhelmed about the lockdown restrictions lifting. Our Urgent Help page has trusted organisations that can support you if you're struggling with your mental health, including services available 24/7 in the UK.