Are you stressed out about going back to normal, post lockdown? Let’s think of some positives…
I SLEPT REALLY LATE today.
By the time I woke up, the kids were just starting to trickle into the school down our road, and I felt guilty that the teachers were already at work while I was still in my PJs.
But then I told myself that I shouldn’t be feeling that way, because being able to sleep more has been one of the major pluses of my pandemic.
If you’re a currently-working-from-home type, not having to get up in the dark and commute, and having more control of your life and routines, has been a real boon – even if there’s a worrying lack of actual work for me out there, due to the same pandemic.
As a writer, it’s been pleasant to think up interview questions in bed, have ideas while you do your stretching exercises – although you tend to lose count of how many you’ve done – and write articles in your Piggy Jimjams, as I’m doing right now.*
And, anyway, we’ll all have to get our heads around returning to normal soon, so we might as well enjoy it while we can.
At the weekend, the UK newspapers were full of predictions that the looming end of lockdown could lead to ‘Re-entry syndrome’, or widespread anxiety about readjusting to the post-Covid world.
“Lockdown has given people with mental health conditions… permission to stay at home, and knowing that at some point you’ll have to go out again can actually trigger stress and anxiety,” Cambridge University’s Dr Tina Van Bortel told The Guardian.
Rosie Weatherley, of the Mind mental health charity, added: “Some of us might have found there were some unexpected plus points to lockdown – and therefore feel uneasy or anxious at the prospect of it being lifted.”
I worry that Life After Covid could be worse than Life With Covid”
As someone who’s not generally down with change, I worry that Life After Covid could turn out to be worse in some ways than Life With Covid.
At my bleakest, I fear a new wave of recession, poverty, homelessness, and lack of opportunity might be coming. And, most of all, I worry that people like me won’t get the mental health support we need to face such frightening realities.
And yet, there are some signs that we might be getting ready to do this the right way: by being kind to one another as we adjust to whatever’s down the line.
A life coach I interviewed recently spoke about how many of her colleagues are offering free resources to people who’ve lost their jobs to Covid-19, as well as a new willingness for people in business to talk openly about mental health.
Meanwhile another contact, who works for one of Britain’s best-known institutions, reeled off a list of the programmes it’s planning to ease people gently back into the workplace.
Although many well-known retailers have gone bust during the pandemic, there are also signs that a new breed of clever, community-focused developments might reclaim some of the empty spaces they’ve left. And so, our High Streets might not look like mouths with all their teeth knocked out for too long.
Other people will restore spice to our lives after lockdown”
But when I think of things going back to normal, what I look forward to most of all is rediscovering the pleasure, and the buzz, of other people.
The vital ingredient that others bring is variety, a different way of doing things, and I think that will restore a crucial bit of spice to our lives once we’re out of lockdown.
We’ve been living without others for so long that we’re almost used to it, but sometimes it still jars – tomorrow, for example, St Patrick’s Day will pass with all the pubs shut, while the classic race meeting and piss-up that is The Cheltenham Festival will also play out to empty stands.
At the weekend, my football team Arsenal their beat Arch rivals Sp**s, and every podcast I listened to bemoaned the fact that fans couldn’t be at the ground to sing and celebrate.
Someone pointed out how sad it was that Kieran Tierney, who’d played outstandingly for Arsenal, didn’t even have a song for fans to sing about him. That’s because while he’s been playing for us, there’s been no-one at the stadium to make one up.**
So it just hasn’t been the same, being on our own. Even though the future might be uncertain, I’m looking forward to enjoying other people again, and adding just that pinch of spice to my life.
As Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston (also) sang, it takes two, baby. Me and you.
* Sorry: horrible image!
** Actually, I heard this one, sung to the tune of Mull Of Kintyre and penned by a listener to the Tuesday Club podcast: ‘Kieran Tierney!/He came down from Scotland/To play Number 3/He’s better than Ashley/Oh, Kieran Tierney!’