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Guest Blog: Embracing the ‘new normal’ at your own pace is important – and here’s why

Going into lockdown was a lot and I say that as a single woman, who lives alone and has no dependents (except for two small dogs). March 2020 signalled the beginning of unprecedented times (is unprecedented the word of 2020 or what?) and instead of going about our normal lives, we were preparing ourselves to adjust to a completely new lifestyle. A way of life that would have seemed lifted out of a Tom Cruise movie only a matter of days previously; wearing face coverings whenever we were in public, queuing for up to an hour whilst 2m apart to get into our local supermarket and following a strict one-way system, removing our clothing as we entered the house and washing down our produce before we put it into the fridge.

Worrying about where we’d get our next toilet roll from.  

See, it was a lot. If you read that back, even now, it’s unbelievable to think that that was the way of life we had to adapt to in just a matter of days. All whilst having the worry of a virus that we or our loved ones could contract, watching daily updates and seeing infection and death rates soar.

And some of us gave ourselves a hard time for finding that time difficult.  I know I did.  Being confined inside four walls with no human contact and a loss of routine set off a rollercoaster of emotions and feeling of… uselessness, fear, anxiousness and sadness. For the most part, we adapted and we did good. Scratch that, we did amazingly.  

So, considering entering lockdown was so difficult, surely the lifting of lockdown, to go back to ‘life as we knew it’ would mean that we should embrace it with open arms; at a socially distanced 2m, of course. We should throw our loungewear in the wash basket, put on actual clothes and run to the shops, book a table at your favourite restaurant (who does that thing with the broccoli and garlic that tastes so much better than how you make it) and fill up our social calendar. We should be looking forward to all of that, right?  

In some ways, yes. I’ll admit, I’m desperate to eat food that I haven’t cooked myself, however, just as it took time to adjust to lockdown, we shouldn’t expect that coming out of it will be easy.  In fact, in some ways, it’s harder. This is now the new, new normal. “How many normals can we have in a year?” one asks. Life isn’t returning to ‘as we knew it’, it’s returning to a mash-up of lockdown and pre-lockdown behaviours.  

In some ways, you could say that now should be easier. Whereas entering lockdown we were given guidance of where we could go, what we could do, who we could see, in some ways, we surrendered control of our lives and that is one of the reasons people found it so hard. Lack of control. Now the world is starting to open up again and we’ve been handed back the majority of that control. But some people don’t want that control right now, they’re more comfortable in these unprecedented times to have guidance, because what we can do and what we’re comfortable with doing right now can be two very different things.

This is where it comes down to ‘you do you’. An overused phrase, maybe, but most definitely the way we should live our lives, especially now. 

It’s important for us to remember that each person’s situation is unique and therefore we shouldn’t judge our post-lockdown decisions based on what John down the road is doing or where Becky on Facebook has been. We all face our own individual challenges and we need to navigate the next few weeks and months, the way that best suits us. Not John or Becky, not the people on social media or your friends who are saying “it’s totally fine” to go out for brunch when the mere thought of it fills you with anxiety.    

Take it all at a pace that you feel comfortable with and dictate your own normal for right now.

If you’re struggling with your mental health and would like any advice or support, Living Well UK is here to help. You can call us for free on 0121 663 1217 or go online for our live chatline, where one of our specialist team members will be on-hand to talk and share any guidance.