The lockdown is (almost) over, so what do we do now?

Niki Bruce
Contributor
(PHOTO: Getty Images)

While being in lockdown has been hard for everyone, the return to ‘normal’ life probably won’t be as easy as you imagine. Transitioning back to work and working out how to navigate ongoing distancing rules while trying to be social again, will take some getting used to, so here are some tips.

Going back to work

The number one concern for most of us heading back into the office will be how to keep up with social distancing and hygiene requirements. Will you need to wear a mask? Will there be enough hand sanitiser or soap to wash your hands regularly? Will there be 1.5m of space between you and your colleagues, or you and your customers? 

Get in touch

The first thing to do is to stay in to talk to your manager. Not only will they be able to explain the new procedures put in place in the office, and any new regulations you will need to follow, they can also help you ease back into your work schedule. 

Everyone will have been impacted by COVID-19 in different ways. Perhaps some colleagues have been ill, or even lost family members, or you may have suffered from depression during the lockdown. By staying in touch with your manager and team, you will be better prepared for everyone’s situation, and be able to support those suffering from mental health issues.

Start planning

You can also plan and prepare in advance of returning to work. Again talk to your manager and team about work priorities, areas that may need advance work before you all start back at the office. 

You can also bring up any concerns you may have about moving forward; for example, you may need to redo your budget due to a downturn in sales. You can also use this time to discuss how changes can be made for the better, in the office. It is a great time to shake up procedures that are not working anymore.

Start getting back into a routine. Set your alarm and wake up the same time you will need to, to get to work on time. Go to sleep earlier, and set your meal times to match your office hours. 

Be prepared for change

Be prepared for the situation at work to change often. Nothing will be the same and is likely to continue to change and be updated regularly for some time yet. If you don’t cope with change well, think about talking to a mental health professional for some tips on how to make your life easier during this time of upheaval.

(PHOTO: Getty Images)

Learning to be social again

For many of us, we are now heading back towards a life outside our homes, but it’s not going to be life as we remember it.

Social distancing rules will be in place for some time; you will need to remember to wear a mask, carry hand sanitiser, stay 1.5m away from each other, and definitely no hugs or handshakes. Maybe it’s time to take up the old tradition of bowing to each other?

It’s OK to be anxious

If you have been suffering from a mental health issue, remember that change sometimes needs to be managed. If you are feeling anxious you will need to manage your reactions to these new changes, and it could be helpful to seek help from a mental health professional. 

The number one tip is to seek support. Talk to your friends and family about how you are feeling about going back into the world; don’t beat yourself up for feeling anxious or worried. Everyone will react differently to the changes, and you are allowed to own your feelings.

Take it slow

Ease your way back into socialising, grab a coffee with one friend, go visit your parents and grandparents, but always remember to keep your physical distance and stick to washing your hands regularly. Don’t hug anyone!

If you, like most of us, have skipped exercise and taken to snacking all day, then you might need to refocus on your health and fitness routine too. Don’t panic, we’ve all been a bit lazy during lockdown, but since you’re heading out into the world again, you can also restart your exercise regime.

Enjoy your release!

Yay! We can finally leave our homes. So let’s do something we enjoy. Make the most of the increased freedom and do something you love. Head into the great outdoors, visit family, whatever it is, enjoy it.

SINGAPORE

If you are struggling with thoughts or feelings about suicide, contact SOS on 1800 221 4444 (24hrs). If you have concerns about mental health issues, contact Emergency Helpline (IMH) on 6389 2222 (24hrs). For more information and help dealing with mental health issues, go to www.healthhub.sg/findhelp_servicesformentalhealthsupport

MALAYSIA

If you are struggling with thoughts or feelings about suicide, contact Lifeline on (+603) 4265 7995 (24hrs). If you have concerns about mental health issues, contact the Malaysian Mental Health Association on (+603) 7782 5499. For more information and help dealing with mental health issues, contact the Befrienders on (+603) 79568144 or (+603) 7956 8145; or go to www.befrienders.org.my.

PHILIPPINES

If you are struggling with thoughts or feelings about suicide, contact Lifeline on (02) 8969191 or 0917 854 9191. If you have concerns about mental health issues, contact the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) Crisis Hotline on 0917 899 8727 (USAP) and 989 8727 (USAP). For more information and help dealing with mental health issues, go to the National Center for Mental Health at ncmh.gov.ph

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