How weird is the world right now?
I spoke in a private Facebook coaching group yesterday about how I have genuinely found coming out of lockdown harder than going into it.
That surprised me because I was genuinely worried about my mental health prior to lockdown. But in hindsight although the build up, uncertainty and speculation was anxiety inducing at the time it also meant I mentally prepared myself for the absolute worst, and because of that it was nowhere near as hard as I’d expected. The rules weren’t as strict, I wasn’t arrested for buying non essentials with my shopping and I found a routine of sorts. There were bad days of course but I coped.
What I didn’t think about was how to manage leaving lockdown. I kind of assumed it would be easy- going back to normal. That would be a positive not difficult. Except it hasn’t been. It’s been more stressful and emotional and overwhelming and anxiety inducing than I ever expected.
There’s two things I’ve since realised.
Firstly, we get used to things much quicker than we think we will. So although I anticipated lockdown / work from home routine would be tough to adjust to, I had adjusted. So going back into the office, things being more open has been another period of readjustment, and it’s continually changing. Going into lockdown was very quick and a big change in one go, now things are evolving so every time I feel like I’ve got on an even footing things change a bit again. Of course gyms are not open yet so I know that things will change again as they open and classes are integrated back into my week too. The thing that threw me most about this is that I hadn’t really thought about how the change would impact me. I thought as it was going back to normal it wouldn’t affect me at all and that lack of preparation on my part I think probably contributed to the feeling of overwhelm. I’ve loved seeing real people again and getting back to a sense of reality but just because something is good in one sense doesn’t mean it isn’t also hard.
That brings me onto the second thing I’ve realised.
In March I expected a few weeks of lockdown then back to normal. But we are not going back to normal. Things are different, so you are going back to work and most things will be the same but some things won’t be. That’s going to be the same for going back to the gym, going on a night out, to the pub, to the shops. It isn’t bad or scary but it’s different and at first that is unsettling, because change is hard and takes adjustment.
So if I could give one piece of advice to people who are still essentially in lockdown and about to start easing that and going back out to work etc. be prepared. The thought you put into how lockdown would affect you, put that same amount of thought into how you feel about this change. being mentally prepared can help. Give yourself time to adjust. If you don’t train for the first week or so after you go back to work that’s ok, it’s likely to feel mentally and physically draining adjusting to the change so give yourself a break. Finally know that it’s normal to feel unsettled by this, it’s the unknown and that sort of change makes most of us feel anxious, so you aren’t bad at coping if you are struggling a bit, you are normal so allow yourself time.