Andrew McDonald – Hypnotherapist
Everybody by now is familiar with the stresses of living very restricted existences. Anxiety, depression and other symptoms caused by life in a kind of open prison for the last twelve months and more are commonplace. People are itching to get back out there.
More than a year is a long time however. Over extended periods of time, we learn to adapt and we become accustomed to a changed lifestyle. For a great many people, living without lockdown restrictions is going to feel as daunting as existing with them.
Perhaps a good example is that places we want to go to once we’re free to do so will also be places plenty of other people wish to visit as soon as they can too. Think of any time you’ve been to your local town, be it Portlaoise, Carlow, Kilkenny or elsewhere, over the last twelve months or so. What has it been like? Chances are, a lot less busy than in February 2020 and earlier.
Social contact is another thing we’ve all gotten used to restricting. It has, for many people, become a natural defensive behaviour to keep their distance from others. With a pandemic, that’s absolutely understandable. Soon though, we’re going to be able to bring down the barriers again. That’s going to lead to feelings of unease for some. What has become naturally ingrained behaviour is not going to switch off like a light bulb.
The most important thing to know and to remember when trying to readjust is there is no requirement for how quickly or slowly you have to do it. Some people will adjust extremely quickly. That’s fine. If you’re not one of them, don’t feel like you have to join them. You can take this as slowly as you like. If you try to force yourself, you’re probably going to make the whole progress longer as you’re pushing yourself into feeling uncomfortable. If you take it gently, it’s likely to be much easier.
Alongside that is resisting comparing yourself with others. Just because Mary takes to life without restrictions doesn’t mean she’s any better or any worse than Joe who takes a little longer. Do what makes you happy and those who truly care about you will understand if you’re a little quicker or a little slower than they are.
Be flexible! A situation where all restrictions are lifted, without hiccups, in the order the government lines up is extremely unlikely. It’s almost certainly going to be a situation of try and see. Some things will open up and will stay so, others will reopen and then close again for a while, other things will take a lot longer to reopen at all. Try to go with the flow and cope with frustrations when they occur.
Above all, do what you’re comfortable with and try to enjoy the ride back to normality!