Feeling overwhelmed? Take our HLN mental health quiz…
As we prepare for lockdown finally lifting, it seems the smallest things can have the biggest impact. The good news? HLN is here to help
By Lucy Murray
Although there’s no guarantee goalposts won’t move again, a return to some sort of normality is now in sight. But with that return (as we’re starting to see already) comes a whole new set of anxieties and adaptations.
Mental health has impacted all of us, whether directly or indirectly, over the past 16 months. For some, the next steps on the roadmap are a lot to take in, whilst for others ‘normal’ life can’t come back quickly enough. Either way, we’re right here beside you.
Our mini mental health quiz is your helping hand to adapting to a new normal. And, whether you’re taking baby steps or giant leaps, we’re here to remind you to prioritise you.
From reintegrating into the office to simply saying ‘no’, we’ve rounded up some of the most common concerns when it comes to life post-COVID – and carved out realistic advice to guide you through each of them.
Struggling to remember who you were pre-pandemic?
The reality is, after a year of living our lives very differently from how we might have expected, we’ve all changed from who we were pre-pandemic. But it’s important to remember that it’s okay to evolve, learn and grow. We’ve done it before and, chances are, we’ll do it again. It’s also natural to have moments of confusion over our identity, especially when we haven’t had a chance to fulfil ourselves with some of the things that make us… well, us.
This all hitting home? Then it’s time to spend some time exploring your identity. What do you enjoy? What helps you relax? What is important to you? Once you’ve asked yourself these questions, then consider this one: am I spending enough time doing those things? Soon enough you’ll find yourself feeling a little more like you again.
Feeling overwhelmed by upcoming plans?
As the world begins to reopen and all the things we’ve longed to experience for so long become possible again, it’s easy to see why many of us have rushed to fill our diaries and make up for lost time. But remember, going from zero to 100 can easily lead to feelings of being overwhelmed.
Is your calendar fully booked from now until August already? Take it one weekend, or even one day, at a time. That way you’ll stop yourself from getting too far ahead, and plans will seem less like a burden and more exciting.
Finding it hard to say no?
It’s easy to fall into a making-up-for-lost-time mindset, but if it’s detrimental to your health, then it’s time to learn how to say ‘no’.
And trust us, we get it. Letting your nearest and dearest down can be daunting, especially after so much time apart. But generally, honesty is always the best policy. There’s no shame in admitting you’re in need of some me-time and, as long as you broach the subject politely, you may be surprised by how understanding others can be. Sorry FOMO – JOMO is a real thing now, too.
Concerned about going back to the office after WFH?
Whether it’s the fear of a busy commute, worries over your capabilities after a year of furlough, or anxiety over socialising in an office environment, the reality is that many of us will face some stress over re-establishing our once well-oiled working routines. Yes, ‘re-entry anxiety’ is a real thing. But, after 12 months of working from the safety of our homes, can you blame us?
Start by remembering it’s okay to feel this way – or any way, for that matter. If it’s an option, take things slowly. Start by working from the office one day a week and build things up at a pace that works for you. Don’t put yourself under unnecessary pressure to complete deadlines, either. Set aside some ‘you time’ after work, too – chances are you’ll find office days more tiring than you once did. You’ll thank us for that, later.
Worried about money after a tough year financially?
Often one of the most difficult subjects to broach, if there’s someone close to you who you can open up to about money worries, then don’t think twice about doing so. As they say, a problem shared is a problem halved.
After a whirlwind year, you even find that those who you’d least expect have similar worries too. Don’t have someone you can easily turn to? Professional, free and impartial advice is available for everyone and you can even access it via WhatsApp.
If you’ve lost a job or been made redundant, it can be a big knock on your confidence and there’s no right or wrong way to deal with that. Whether you’re the jump-straight-back-on-the-pony kind or you’re more take-a-step-back, spend some time tuning into your feelings, rather than suppressing them. Losing a job can leave you feeling hopeless and confused, but it’s also an opportunity to assess your strengths and play to them. And you never know what may be just around the corner…
Struggling to find time for you now that your social life is back in full swing?
While there are many things we don’t have control over right now, when it comes to making plans, just remember: it’s up to you. Weekends have gone from baking banana bread and virtual yoga to bottomless brunches and staycations in a heartbeat and, as fun as they may be, moderation is still important.
Take control of your time by adding solo dates to your diary in the same way you would with friends – whether that’s an exercise class, a few hours to read a book or take a bath, or time to enjoy a run or walk. After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup.
This feature is not intended to treat or diagnose any illness. Please seek the advice of your GP, or a qualified healthcare professional, if you have any questions regarding anything covered in this article.
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