As I write, it’s the beginning of March 2021. In the UK, we’re in our second Covid-19 lockdown. Vaccines are rolling out, schools are opening up, and shops and services are likely to follow suit very soon.
For the majority of people, lockdown has meant just that, staying indoors except for exercise and unavoidable trips out. Meetings have moved onto Zoom. There are online exercise routines to follow, even for the kids. Home schooling has jointly educated and exhausted parents. We’re told that there may be a return to ‘normal’ very soon, but increasingly it’s clear that it won’t be the old normal.
So when the lockdown ends, wherever you are, how will you step out into our brand new world?
As a child, the end of the school day meant ‘release’ from the restrictions of lessons and teachers. I ran out at speed, my eyes on my Mum and my mind on home or time to be spent with friends.
When lockdown ends, the temptation will be to do just that. Run away from the imprisonment enforced by the pandemic and run towards all the people we’ve missed and all the things we’ve dreamed of doing. That’s the natural response to have – it’ll certainly be my gut instinct.
But here’s the thing – the pandemic is still with us. We’ll beat Covid-19 some day or at least push it into a manageable threat-band, but for the time being we have to take care. So yes, masks, social distancing, and washing hands. Yes to opening windows and only hugging the people we live with or those who are in our extended bubble.
We can make this new world work if we handle it with care.
In the same way that schools, shops, hairdressers, workplaces, and entertainment venues are opening up in a staggered manner rather than all at once, we need to move back into ‘life out there’ gradually.
This isn’t just about being ‘careful’ and protecting our physical health. Instead, it’s about protecting our mental health.
You may think your mental health hasn’t really been affected by the lockdown, that you’ve just stayed calm and carried on. Dig deeper though and you’ll probably find that your anxiety levels have increased, you’ve faced grief even if you haven’t lost anyone close, and ‘out there’ has become a scarier place.
Everyone’s mental health has been affected to an extent, so we need to take baby steps when leaving isolation. Stepping outside the door may be more frightening than you think, so take it a bit at a time. You don’t have to do everything straightaway.
People find joy in different ways. For me, it’s a walk in the park with my family and a vast blue sky above us. For others, it’s a night on the town, or at the cinema. One friend of mine finds joy in riding her horse, while another can’t wait to go to a posh, city hotel and dine in style. My daughter longs to return to the zoo. My son wants to go ten pin bowling.
There are so many joys that we’ve missed during lockdown. We may not be able to do them all for the time being, but we can find joy in leaving the four walls of our home and finding out what this new world looks like, re-connecting with our loved ones, and appreciating the small things that make us smile.
So how about you? How will you step out of isolation?
Fi Phillips is a fantasy author living in North Wales with her family and a pooch called Bailey. When she isn’t ‘authoring’, she works as a freelance copywriter. Writing about magical possibilities is her passion.
Her debut novel, Haven Wakes, bit.ly/39UoUez was released in 2019 by Burning Chair Publishing and the second instalment in The Haven Chronicles is due to be released later this year.