Lockdown…quarantine…isolation. Whatever you call it, we’ve all had to navigate a new way of living and working. During the first couple of weeks, I didn’t really feel the true effect. I was finishing my degree which meant staying up all day and night, constantly tweaking my seemingly endless dissertation! As a student, there have been a fair few times when I’ve been forced into a working routine. Staying in my room, typing away to get my essay finished before the deadline. Or cramming in some revision the night before an exam. But even during those periods, I was able to pop down to my local coffee shop and have a half an hour break. Or have a catch up with my friends when my brain just couldn’t function any longer.
Lockdown meant I didn’t have this option. But because I was so excited to get my dissertation completed, I didn’t think about it too much. I just got on with my work. And the moment I uploaded it, I felt relieved. Of course…I’d just finished the final part of a 3 year journey. But then the heaviness of lockdown became apparent…for me, almost immediately. It dawned on me that I had to figure out how to function with all these different restrictions. But as humans, we’re adaptable. We make things work.
So, that’s what I did. I figured out how to navigate this new way of living and working and got into my ‘lockdown routine’. And while this routine has helped me to get used to life in lockdown, now that things are changing again with lockdown restrictions gradually being lifted, the new normal requires a changed approach. And this change may feel even more daunting than the initial lockdown situation. You may feel like you’ve become accustomed to working form home and rarely venturing outside, except for essentials. But there are a few ways that you can ease yourself through this transition and so here are my top three!
It’s the first tip on every routine list you’ll ever read. But there’s a reason for that. It’s the vital first step in coping through a transition and making the most out of an unfamiliar situation. When we wake up in the morning, putting on an actual pair of jeans or anything besides our daytime pjs – because yes, that’s a new thing – feels like the last thing you want to do. But by having a morning routine, this will enable you to overcome any trials you may encounter whilst adjusting to the new normal. A steadfast morning routine will enable you to spend time figuring out how to adjust to unfamiliar settings.
Acknowledging and Figuring Out Your Feelings
We often feel as though we need to hide how we’re feeling or ignore it, altogether. We feel as though we need to just power through and get things done. And it is definitely important to stop yourself from dwelling on things you can’t change. But if your mood prevents you from focusing on your work, taking the time to acknowledge how you’re feeling is vital. Then, you’ll be able to attempt to figure out what’s led you to feel that way which will mean you can work on moving past it.
Life can be overwhelming, particularly in this moment in time, and it’s okay to feel the way. It’s normal. You’ll only be able to function properly if you take care of your mental health. This means that instead of trying to get those emails sent off ASAP, you’re allowed to take time to feel sad or lonely. Sit in that feeling for a bit but the most important step is figuring out the source of your unhappiness and finding a solution to overcome it.
It may be as simple as feeling stressed as a result of a chaotic workload where you can solve this by creating a to-do list with a manageable time guide for each task. In acknowledging and addressing our feelings, we’re finding a way back to ourselves in moments of anxiety and sadness in order to come out the other side better off.
We’re All Navigating This New, Changing World
We’re all navigating this new, changing world and we’re all going to be able to adapt at different paces. Some of us will find our rhythm sooner than others and that’s okay. It’s important to remember that everyone is navigating this new situation and no-one knows the answers. Because there are no answers. There’s no manual on how to get through this. But we’re all unified in our inexperience.
You might feel like you just have no idea where to even start when making decisions because it feels like everybody is following different rules. Approaching a situation like this you’ll need to remind yourself that being informed is incredibly important in unprecedented times. As long as you spend time researching and working to inform yourself in order to make the most appropriate decision on how to act/behave in this adjusted version of society, you are doing great.
You might make decision that you later come to realise was not the best. But as long as you take that and let it influence your future actions, you are doing great. Figuring out this space and adjusting will take time. But as long as you take a deep breath and let yourself make mistakes and learn from them, you are doing great.
You Really Are Doing Better Than You Think
Since lockdown, the idea of returning to normalcy – or at least some sense of normalcy – may seem daunting and scary to you. It does to me. But as long as you remember these three main tips, you’ll navigate the new normal to the best of your ability. And it’s okay to have days where it does just feel overwhelming because you’re human. Some days we need to just cuddle up in a blanket and forget that the real world exists. But these tips will help you climb out of this fear and isolation and into the routine of the new normal, that works for you.