Are you feeling lost with lockdowns?
I don’t know if it’s just me or if others are feeling the same, but life is feeling a little bit strange just now. I don’t really know how to describe it, it’s almost like being in some sort of transition from living life in lockdown to living life with restrictions. A mental desert, a social no-man's land perhaps. I want to go somewhere, but I don’t know where, I want to do something, but I don’t know what. The sun is shining, and the days are so much longer now, but yet, I am still sofa crashing most evenings, does this sound like you? Life before lockdown I would normally be out cycling, swimming, or walking, but its just doesn't seem to be happening!
Cast your mind back to this time last year, we had been in lockdown for roughly 4 weeks and it seemed liked everyone was out walking, people were energised by the displays of clapping for carer's on a Thursday night, people were adjusting to this slower pace of life, some people went DIY crazy around the home and garden.
Maybe now we are on the other side of the coin, there is an anticipation of starting to move back up through the gears and get back into life in the fast lane, yet we are still in some sort of middle ground that’s holding us back from doing so. There may even be the subtle weight of expectation, the lighter nights, warmer weather and easing restrictions are on some sort of sub-conscious level telling you that you should be doing more than you currently are.
I don’t know what your views are on life just now, but I am dubbing this the 'summer of false confidence'. Are we putting too much hope in the vaccinations? As the restrictions continue to lift and the vaccine continues to be rolled out, many people will become laxed about other control measures, facemasks, hand-gel and 2 meters distancing. People will also overcompensate for “lost time”, maybe such thoughts are also holding you back, you want to start living life to fullest but you suspect a 3rd, 4th or 5th lockdown depending on how you are counting the restriction levels.
In my view, the last 12 months have been about measures to avoid COVID-19 and reduce the spread, the next 12 months will be living with COVID-19. 'Living with' in the same sense as other viruses and diseases such as the flu, chickenpox, COPD. COVID-19 will be added to that list and we will become accustom to it. But what does that look like long term? No one knows!
There is also another aspect to this and that’s recovery, as someone who has a keen interest in crisis management, recovery is a critical component of any crisis. But we are not talking about environmental disasters here, we are talking about a subject far more organic in nature (no pun intended), and that’s human behavior and social interaction. How do you design recovery around that? Human history has been a progressive development of social change over 1000's of years, maybe we don’t have to design recovery, maybe we all play our part in contributing by finding our own personal form of 'new normal'.
So, if you are feeling similar to me, its maybe that you’re going through a transition and your somewhere in the middle ground (the mental desert) of not really knowing who you are and what you’re doing with your life, maybe some of the following bullet points will strike a cord with you. Lockdown may have changed your outlook on life for a number of reasons:
You have adapted to working from home and you don’t want to return to traffic and commuting and lets be honest, you may not actually enjoy the office!
You are now used to a slower pace of life and you don’t want the busy stress of the old life, the rushing around before and after work just to keep up with home and family commitments
You have volunteered with one of the many organisations who supported people through lockdown and its changed your values and outlook on life
You have experienced loss during COVID-19 and you can’t find closure, or you have experienced loss and the idea of death has changed your outlook – Life is too short so to speak.
If you can relate to any of those bullet points above or have other experiences, then all I can say is don’t underestimate the power of transition, and don’t be afraid to keep exploring those thoughts and getting to the roots of it.
We have been living in under COVID-19 restricted conditions for over a year now, its not surprising that habits have formed, and habits have taken root, and other habits have been dropped or neglected, either good or bad.
I am currently reading Stephen R Covey’s, '7 Habits of Highly Effective People' and the writer uses a a very good analogy to help you understand the power of habits. During the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, more energy was used in the first few minutes of that mission than the subsequent half million miles afterwards. It took more energy in those first few moments of the launch than the days and weeks that lay ahead, that energy was used to overcome the sheer strength of the earth’s gravitational pull. Habits are the same, it takes more energy at the beginning to break a habit than it does to sustain it. The point I am making are these:
Don’t underestimate the power of transition
Don’t be hard on yourself if you are not doing the things you want to do
Don’t be hard on yourself if you keep reverting back to the sofa state
As mentioned earlier, lockdown may have changed you, its possible that the pre-lockdown you is a different person to the post-lockdown you.
People change, you are not the same person you were 5, 10, 15 years ago. People change for all sorts of reasons, personal growth, change of work, change of relationships and so forth. So don’t be surprised to find that you have changed during the pandemic and maybe what you are feeling, a bit like myself, is that you cannot go back into the 'old shaped you' box. You can no longer fit into your old mental model, or your old physical model, or your old working model. Don’t be afraid to embrace change, the last place you want to end up is being a square peg in a round hold. Maybe its time to try new things and explore a new you.
If I can borrow a tip from a good friend from work, start by sticking occasions onto your calendar, it will give you something to look at, to look forward to and to get yourself ready for.
Slow and steady wins the race, don’t take up residence in no-man’s land not knowing which direction to go in. You can't steer a car if the car is not moving.
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