As parts of Australia gradually come out of lockdown, there are mixed feelings on the positive changes that took place during the pandemic, and an emphasis by employers to help teams identify ways to cope as we emerge from this period of social isolation.
Discussions around mental health have dominated during the pandemic surrounding working from home (WFH) and the strict quarantine environments. This (in some cases) almost two-year period of isolation has given individuals the opportunity to self-reflect and learn more about their mental and physical wellbeing and what is important.
So, how do we maintain these positive changes when we return to so called ‘normal’ life?
The reality is that that everyone is re-adjusting returning to normal life at their own pace. For many this may take some time and that’s okay. For others, it already seems like the lockdown was a distant memory.
The anticipation of coming out of lockdown may cause anxiety for some, whether it’s the commute, going back to the office or just socially interacting with people more regularly for the first time in a while. Individuals have been affected by lockdown in different ways so it’s only natural that some people may be hesitant about transitioning back to the new ‘normal’.
Here are four steps you can take to ensure healthy mental health practices are maintained in your personal and professional life as we emerge from lockdown:
1. Time management is key
Lockdown provided individuals with a different use of their time. With little or no commuting, limited social plans and reduced movement, individuals were forced to self regulate work and leisure and take a pause and reflect.
Many people have used the time in lockdown to focus on their mental health through acts of self-care and spirituality, some even saying they found valuable time to examine routines, relationships and their purpose in order to reconnect with themselves.
Such valuable self-care or spirituality is something we could bring with us into the hustle of day-to-day life.
By managing time and expectations, individuals can develop positive mental wellbeing routines that suit the fast-paced environment we are all used to.
2. Manage readjustment and expectations one step at a time
Take everything step by step. This gives you space to focus on what you can control and allows you to ease back to a new routine at your own pace. This may be saying no to plans with friends or talking to your boss about a continued work from home attendance.
It is important to pause and self-reflect on how you are getting on as time progresses.
3. Allocate time to manage self-care and boundaries
Returning to the office or enjoying social activities can be draining in the initial stages of coming out of lockdown. However, don’t feel discouraged by this as experts say, this is completely normal. Our bodies are accustomed to staying at home with limited movement around the house. Your full energy will be back before you know it, with time, routine and patience.
It is recommended you give yourself time to rejuvenate. After almost two years of no international travel and limited time to go on a break, maybe it is time to take some annual leave and go on holidays to relax, revive and reset.
Finally, make sure you are still prioritising time for self-care, the typical advice to exercise, get enough sleep, eat healthily and taking time for yourself is essential for yourself and those around you.
4. Reach out to others
As this is an uncertain time for many, these anxieties are not just at an individual level. By having conversations with those around us, we can all play a part in supporting one another during this transformational time and in shaping a more positive and mindful environment for everyone.
For more advice on how to prioritise your mental health in trying times, Taurus client, Dr Frank Chow of 2OP Health at: www.2ophealth.com.au is offering great advice and individual and workplace consultations. Dr Frank Chow is a psychiatrist and the director of 2OP Health. He is a specialist in organisational and occupational psychiatric service, specialising in work related mental health care. With years of experience, Dr Frank Chow is passionate about advocating early intervention, education and rehabilitation for all individuals so that they can get back on track with improved clarity, motivation and fulfilment at work.