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Today, I wanted to do a bit more of a chatty post because 2020 has been such a strange and intense experience for us all, and I think there are lots of ups and downs we're all going through as part of this. As countries open and close their borders and we come out of lockdown, then the brakes are pumped again and everything becomes very confusing! I don't know about you, but I'm finding this 'return back to normal' a little bit daunting in some way, so this is me working it out myself and hopefully it offers some coping ideas for you too...
After having been in hibernation for months, it's only understandable that many people are wanting to catch up with their friends and make plans. However, this can feel pretty overwhelming, particularly given we're pretty much limited to seeing one friend at a time; it can easily lead to you having plans every single night of the week and going from 0 to 100 far too quickly! It's more than ok to politely decline some invitations if it all seems like a bit too much or reschedule to a later date to get some time to yourself.
Give yourself at least one night a week to yourself
Leading on from that, it's really important to give yourself at least one night a week where you don't do any errands or jobs around the house and you don't have social plans. This is where keeping a diary is key; if you don't keep track of all the invites you've accepted, it's really easy to launch back into 'normal life' at a speed that feels totally unsustainable. I personally love a Sunday night in with skincare and a bath!
Try to spend 3-60 minutes every day doing something you enjoy
This is a real difficulty for me; as life gets busier, and some of us begin to return to workplaces, we're losing hours that we'd previously have dedicated to whatever hobby was our lifeline during lockdown. Whether that's baking, cooking, reading, art, writing, DIY or something else. For me, it's now really important to still give myself some time that's sacred each day to continue investing in the things that really bring me a lot of fulfilment, as opposed to letting them fall by the wayside.
Keep up the healthy lifestyle changes as far as possible
In a similar vein, many of us got really into exercise or preparing time-consuming but delicious and healthy foods with the extra time we had on our hands. And, whilst gourmet lunches every single day might no longer be feasible, it doesn't mean we can't take forward some elements of our healthy lifestyles into our new normal. Whilst I'm not doing my runs three times a week, I am managing twice a week and that's still twice more a week than I'd been doing before all of this! Likewise, I'm still eating really well, I'm just being smarter about cooking big batches so it's not a full-on chef situation every night of the week.
Set your boundaries and stick to them
I also think it's really important to know what you are or aren't comfortable with. Your friends might be happy having a hug when they meet up, but if you're not then make it clear where your boundaries lie and your true friends will respect that. Particularly if you're worried about getting sick, exposing yourself because 'everyone's doing it' or because you don't want to seem boring or a killjoy isn't good for your mental health.
Even if you're back at your workplace; try to keep a good morning routine
One of the best things about working from home for me has been having a slower morning. Before, I was hurtling at 100 miles per hour trying to get ready, out of the door and to work as quickly as possible. Now, I feel relaxed, I can have a coffee and a breakfast smoothie, maybe reply to some blog emails and chill for a bit and still sign on at the same time as before! I think I should be able to get a few days a fortnight in the office again soon (I really need that change of scenery, personally) but when I am, I do still want to take forward some elements of a slower morning routine. Like spending less time in the bathroom so I can at least have a slice of toast and a coffee before starting my day.
It's an overwhelming time - reach out if you need help
If you're finding things a bit too much: you're not alone. It's also ok to ask for help; these are strange times that people alive today have little experience of. There's tons of information and resources on the Mind website, so please check that out if you need something a little more than the above to get yourself back on track following lockdown.
How are you adjusting to life after lockdown?