How To Combat The Very Real Anxiety Of Returning To Life After Iso

When the world went into lockdown, we were all forced to leave our old way of life behind and adopt a new normal in the name of safety.

Over the past few months, we’ve traded group hangs for Google hangouts, board meetings for Zoom meetings and IRL dating for extended online dating.

But now the lockdown laws are easing, which is great news, but for those who aren’t big fans of change, the idea of returning to life post-iso can be a little scary.

“Life has changed for all of us due to COVID-19 restrictions, and while some people have enjoyed these changes, others have found it challenging, and many of us will have experienced a mixture of these things,” headspace’s National Clinical Advisor Nick Duigan says.

“Some people might have realised that priorities or preferences for the way they want to live their life may have changed. Others might be worried about re-engaging with friendships and relationships.”

He adds, “A lot of young people are finding motivation or finding the energy to get back into everyday tasks could be a struggle. Two months of isolation may mean that people have become quite used to staying indoors, and the way they lived their life prior to COVID may now seem a long way off.”

So what will the transition from iso life to normal life be like? Naturally, Nick predicts some highs and lows across the board, which is totally normal.

“The easing of restrictions might be an exciting, fun, and enjoyable time for some,” he said. “For others, it might be scary, uncertain or overwhelming. It’s normal to feel anything and everything, so remember to be kind to yourself.”

If you’re already feeling stressed about the transition, there are some things you can do to help ease your mind.

“It might be a good idea to take some time to consider how your life has changed in the past few months, and the impact this has had on you,” Nick suggests.

“Taking some time to think about your readiness may help you to build the life you want for yourself after restrictions are eased. You might find that some things are easier to return to than others, and this will be different for everyone.”

headspace has a few tips to help you emerge from lockdown:

  • Think about the fun things you might want to do once restrictions ease.
  • Write out a plan to help motivate yourself.
  • Take it slow. Gradually try new things. You don’t need to do everything straight away.
  • Start with something that seems easier before moving to more difficult things.
  • If you’re worried about catching the virus remember to practice hand hygiene and physical distancing.
  • Think about what you might need to do if things don’t go well, and write down a few ideas of what might help you get back on track.
  • Keep in mind that things may change.
  • Share your plans or thoughts with family and friends. They can be an important source of support if you’re finding it tough.

If you’re doing just fine with the transition but notice a loved one isn’t coping well, Nick says “looking after our friends and family during this time is really important.”

“Consider that people may be affected differently, and may respond in very different ways to the easing of restrictions. Remember that how you’re seeing someone else respond might not actually be what they’re feeling.”

So if you’re in a position to help out a mate, Nick suggests that you “take some time to have conversations about these things to understand other people’s experiences.”

“Offering to talk through concerns or worries is something we can do to support each other, but if you think a loved one might need extra support there are services that can help people get through a tough time and get back on track.”

Need further assistance? There are online or phone-based services like eheadspace, Kids Helpline or Lifeline – you can access them anonymously and they are free.