Now that restrictions are easing many people are cautiously discovering that life feels rather more complicated these days.
Questions like, ‘is it okay, am I allowed?’ are still taking some time to move away from.
Many people are feeling a little uncertain about going back to work, about using public transport, or visiting crowded places like shopping malls, theatres and concerts. Taking a holiday and travelling overseas prompts complicated questions, like which rules and regulations still apply, what forms need filling in? Plus, problems with understaffed airports means there are concerns about how early they need to check-in at the airport or will the flight be cancelled.
In many cases, people are still working from home, which means that requests for advice or information can be problematic as well as a slow, laborious process. So many things seem to take much longer and that can make life appear harder to face and more complicated.
An important way to help things feel less complicated is to adopt a balanced, more pragmatic approach. Allowing a little extra time to do things can make a significant difference to how stressful a process may be, both mentally and emotionally.
Yes, things may not be quite the same, but if we relax and remember that other people are also dealing with their own fears and concerns, it makes for a calmer time for everyone involved.
And actually, many things are fundamentally the same as before. Bureaucracy has always tended to move rather slowly, call centres have often required us to queue for ages on the phone, it’s not unusual for hospitality to struggle to find good staff. Learning to take all that in our stride and allow time to work around it, to plan ahead can be an important way of avoiding becoming hassled or frustrated. Some forward planning and a little patience can be the key to a happier and smoother approach to life.
Remember too that some people are struggling with FOGO, the fear of going out. After two years of restrictions and dire warnings, for them, resuming life, going out and picking up on their previous habits and routines can feel overwhelming. Taking things at their own pace can help alleviate some of the pressure, until such time as their confidence levels improve. Perhaps they could start by negotiating to work a few days from home, continue ordering items online and still have some meetings and interactions over zoom.
It can feel complicated at first to go back to driving at rush hour on busy roads, having to locate a parking space, walk around shopping malls or visit busy office spaces. Confidence returns by introducing gradual steps, where we feel in control, comfortable about taking our time, moving at our own pace and making our own decisions. It helps to know that we can leave if we want, that we can gradually work our way through those things that we felt had recently become quite complicated but which we’re gradually coming to realise are actually quite straightforward. Mindset and perspective so often set the tone for our responses to situations.
Negotiate, be gentle with yourself and you’ll come to appreciate that whilst some things may be a little different, our days are slowly returning to a more familiar situation. Of course, some things have changed, but recognisable patterns are gradually being reintroduced, patterns that we’re more used to and comfortable with.
But equally, many of us want to keep some of our revised priorities from the last two years, those things that we’ve discovered and perhaps been pleasantly surprised by. For example, you may have invested much love and attention into your home or garden, discovered the joy of going for walks in the countryside or along the beach, become determined to commit more time to your relationships, really appreciating what they mean to you. You may have decided to streamline your shopping habits, possessions, the time you spend at work.
So many things may have been reviewed and revised this past two years and many of us have valued the lessons learned and want to retain the best of them, so uncomplicating our lives. Be firm about ‘starting as you mean to go on’, and avoid slipping back into old habits, not allowing negative self-talk, fear or apprehension to cloud your commitment to positive new ways.
Sensible care and precautions are important, but so is avoiding our minds running a ‘what if’ scenario too. Be determined to move forward and resume your life. Our mental health, as well as our businesses, town centres, local clubs, networks and the very fabric of our society all need ongoing activity, healthy support and investment to get back on track and recover. That’s definitely not complicated, is it!
Susan Leigh, South Manchester Counsellor & Hypnotherapist www.lifestyletherapy.net