Life will be different after lockdown….
Governments around Australia are now making cautious moves towards lifting COVID-19 restrictions. It is time to start thinking about life beyond lockdown.
But even though many of us have spent weeks dreaming about the day that things go back to normal, re-entry into the real world might not be all smooth sailing.
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Adjusting to the new normal
We can expect to see lots of changes when we emerge into the world, from a favourite café or restaurant that didn’t survive the shutdown to greetings between friends that now consist of a nod or a wave, rather than an affectionate hug.
But for others, the changes might be deeper. The unexpected nature of the pandemic and its sudden and intrusive arrival in our lives will leave some of questioning whether the world is still a safe place.
“The world might actually be a different place when we get out of this,” says Professor Manicavasagar, a senior clinical psychologist at the Black Dog Institute and author of an article that inspired this blog post.
Financial and economic challenges
For those who have lost income or jobs, there are also practical concerns to grapple with – finding work, meeting financial commitments, applying for Centrelink benefits or negotiating with landlords and banks to manage rent, mortgages and credit card payments.
With predictions of up to 1.4 million job losses by the end of 2020, these financial pressures will be front and centre of many people’s lives for the foreseeable future and could have a significant impact on their mental health.
Easing back into life after lockdown
Rebuild your relationships – It’s been a while since you’ve physically seen your friends and family members – and remember, they’ve changed as much as you have. Spend some time together processing the experience, rebuilding bonds and supporting one another as you move into the next phase of your relationship.
Look for opportunities: The Federal Government is offering heavily subsidised undergraduate and postgraduate certificate courses for people who have been financially displaced by COVID-19. If you’re looking to enhance your current skillset or to retrain in a new field, a new qualification could help you move forward.
Everyone reacts differently to change. Feelings of anxiety, difficult sleeping, changes to your appetite, irritability and bouts of crying are all signs you may need some extra support. See me or visit the Black Dog Institute website for mental health advice and resources.
Reflect on your experience
Rather than focusing on going ‘back’ to your old life, take some time to think about whether the lockdown experience could help you make positive changes going forward. Have you realised you want to work less, exercise more, make more effort to spend time with friends and family? Make a list of new habits you’d like to embrace and start implementing them one by one.
Remember the advice
Wash your hands regularly, keep a safe distance from others and keep up with the rules as they change so you know what you can and cannot do. Remember these rules have been very effective at keeping the infection rate low in Australia.