Eight months into the the COVID pandemic, lockdown is still the reality we live in, albeit a less restrictive one than the first one. While your social media feeds may have been flooded with baking photos and DIY projects, this time feels different. We are feeling overwhelmed.
I hear it from my clients, from my friends, they feel tired, drained..They miss the little things that we used to have, like having having family and friends around, dinner in a restaurant, or just being able to book a flight for a short break. My own feelings echo the ones that are shared with me.
What was different about the first lockdown?
The first lockdown was hard, it was a shock, something unprecedented. But while we worried about our health, our loved ones and the economic consequences on our lives, the exceptionality and global nature of the situation has left room, for some people, to slow down.
Many have seized the opportunity to slow reassess what mattered in their life, to reconnect with the people they love the most and in some cases, to reinvent themselves. Of course that's not the case for everyone.
But even the people who saw the good in a bad situation are finding it harder the second time around.
What's happening to us now?
Well, let's just say that no matter how bad things get, knowing when something will stop or improve helps us cope as human beings. The fact that our leaders are still struggling to get to grips with the pandemic is also making our stress levels skyrocket.
Stress always highlights areas in our lives where we are fragile. And if you've struggled during the first months of the pandemic or during the first lockdown, the painful memories of it will resurface when presented with a "repeat" scenario, making us dread what is to come.
Something else that's worth mentioning is that many of us really stretched ourselves during the first lockdown and for some of us, have put the bar too high. What do I mean by that? Think of the number of virtual 'houseparties', new recipes, live exercise classes online, courses taken, redecorating, spring cleaning...I'm the first to raise my hand. There is no way I would have been able to keep up with my first lockdown routine in the long term.
What can we do to help ourselves...and others?
Stick to simple, proven rituals
If you've been feeling overwhelmed, this is probably not the time to kickoff some ambitious daily habits. It's also not the time to chastise yourself for not doing enough. You have enough on your plate without adding additional self-inflicted stress to it!
Going back to my rituals, choose something that is easy to embrace, maybe something you've done in the past that you enjoyed. Start really, really small if this already feels like an effort. Think of your ritual(s) as an opportunity to focus on your needs vs trying to achieve something.
Give AND receive support
People experience things differently. Don't think that because people around don't seem to be feeling overwhelmed (they may BTW!) means that they won't understand what you are going through.
Alternatively, if you feel up for it, reaching out to people who you know tend to be isolated. We don't have to be perfect or "problem-free" to help others. One of the wonderful byproducts of altruism is that it is not only beneficial to those receiving the act of kindness, it also produces a strong sense of satisfaction to the helped.