May 11th 2021
Welcome to Lockdown 3.0. With Spring in the air and summer on the way, this pandemic has started to take up more room than a lot of people are comfortable with. While there is no magic fix to the things that you are feeling, one thing that I cannot emphasize enough is that you are not alone. Below is a list of things that you may be experiencing throughout the lockdowns and restrictions. Take some time to reflect on yourself and whether these resonate with you.
Feeling Isolated: The pandemic has led to a roller coaster of changes in guidelines and restrictions, however one has remained fairly consistent: Limit social gatherings and engage in social distancing. The implications of this measure has taken a heavy toll on a lot of people. Human touch is very important for mental health. Without even realizing it, some people have gone without any physical contact for months. Others have experienced limited contact with a small group of people. Some have been forced to stay away from family and friends who were vital parts of their support networks before the pandemic. Whatever the situation may be, it's important to reflect on your social interactions and how they have been impacted by the pandemic. Reach out to a friend or loved one... don't underestimate the positive impact you could have.
General Lack of Motivation: Covid-19 led to many supplies being sold out in stores. Baking, cooking, gardening, biking, camping, working out... a lot of people took on projects to keep themselves busy! I have recently noticed a trend however that people are starting to feel a general lack of motivation... to do anything! Does this resonate? You are not alone. Try to create structure in your day, and think outside of the box when it comes to leisure. Remember that we are in unprecedented times and being restricted for this long may have taken a toll on your energy levels and drive to do things. Try to manage your expectations regarding accomplishing chores and tasks. While you do likely have more free time on your hands, it does not mean that you have to fill it all up with "productivity". Allow yourself space to relax and "do nothing". You deserve mental breaks throughout this stressful and emotionally draining time.
Loss of Your Sense of Purpose/Direction: Pre-pandemic, goals and projects were well underway and steps were being taken to achieve them. When the restrictions started however, many of these were put on hold. At first, it may have felt like a short pause before life would go back to normal. People were hearing "two weeks to flatten the curve" and stayed home in anticipation of things reopening. When two weeks turned into over a year, I noticed in people that optimism was quickly turning to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. I have heard many accounts of people not knowing which direction to take as work sites are closed, career paths are on hold, projects feel like a distant memory, and life feels mundane. Create a vision board for yourself as a reminder of the things you were working towards pre-pandemic. Create shorter term goals that you can work towards while in lockdown as a way to feel like you are still moving forward. It can be easy to lose a sense of vision throughout this. Be kind to yourself and return to the basics: What do you value? What areas of your life would you like to be different? In a perfect world, what would your life look like?
Restlessness: How many hours can you watch television? With increased restrictions, activities have become limited. With nicer weather on the horizon and nowhere to go, feelings of restlessness can set it. Feelings of wanting to do something, but not feeling satisfied with any activity you take on can leave you feeling frustrated and irritable. Days can seem repetitive, life can feel like it's all about work, nothing may seem satisfying. If you can relate to any of this, know that it has been quite common throughout the pandemic. Try to look up activities that are outside of your usual list. Webinars, courses, household projects, games, baking, etc. Find something that is outside of your routine and can add a bit of "new" to your life.
Feeling Discouraged/Overwhelmed: Lockdowns being extended, restrictions lifting then being put back into place, vaccine shortages... when will it end? If you are feeling overwhelmed or discouraged with the fact that there is no concrete end in sight, your feelings are valid. It can be incredibly frustrating to sit with these feelings for over a year and be faced with so many unknowns in your future. Take note of some of the things that you can control. What areas of your life can you implement change in? What areas are you happy with? What can you accomplish while in lockdown? Make sure to set realistic and attainable goals for yourself and adjust your expectations along the way as things change. It is frustrating, and it is okay to feel that way. You are doing your best, and that's so important to recognize!
Overall, life has not been easy for many over the last year. You have made it this far, you have a lot to be proud of. Please do not hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional if you need support. We are here to help you, no matter what you may be facing.
Jessica Landry, M.Ed., RP (Qualifying)