In this article, we will be focusing on ‘How To Overcome Post Lockdown Blues’. For many of us, the gradual easing of lockdown has been positive, involving gradual steps back to a more normal way of life. However, for lots of people, the end of lockdown had meant a return to work after a long break, which they have enjoyed like an extended holiday…back to reality! There is increasing uncertainty about how the covid-19 pandemic will impact us all as we head into autumn and winter to cope with, along with financial uncertainty for many families. This has meant that a number of people are suffering from “post-lockdown blues”.
What are post-lockdown blues?
Post-lockdown blues area “slump” in mood that has hit many of us as a result of the uncertainty and rollercoaster of the last few months. The characteristics of post-lockdown blues are similar to that of any anxiety and/or depression, and can include: insomnia or difficulty sleeping, sleeping too much, low energy levels, irritability, anxiousness, difficulty concentrating, and general low mood.
What causes post-lockdown blues?
There is currently no research on the causes of post-lockdown blues, however, post-holiday blues is a similar phenomenon. Research into post-holiday blues suggests that an adrenaline comedown is the primary reason for post-holiday blues, and we believe this is similar for post-lockdown blues.
Additionally, the contrast effect
The uncertainty of the last seven months, combined with concern about catching the virus, along with the other impacts of the covid-19 pandemic and a period of time away from the workplace for various reasons, has meant for some that the last seven months have been a roller-coaster. And this roller-coaster is continuing as levels of uncertainty have been increasing in the last week or so as schools have returned and cases of covid-19 begin to rise again. This ongoing departure from our normal lives and ongoing uncertainty can be incredibly difficult to cope with.
Both adrenaline and the contrast effect can have a profound impact on our physical and mental health.
Remember: Always follow the Government’s guidelines for staying Alert and Safe.
Why have we felt like this?
Lockdown has been an unprecedented time where, for many, normal life has been interrupted on a scale that we just aren’t used to. Even if lockdown has been hard, the brain has a tendency to exaggerate the realities of day-to-day life, making the return to normal life seem disproportionately more anxiety-inducing and depressing that it actually is. This can be compounded for some, by additional anxiety about what the future holds in terms of further restrictions or lockdowns and also the risk of health anxiety about catching covid-19.
The considerable weight of the last few months, the ongoing uncertainty, the challenges each individual may have faced during this period (for example, loneliness, balancing work and home-schooling, strained relationships) can be a significant factor in post-lockdown blues or depression.
The importance of diet
A number of people have used the lockdown period to develop healthier habits, however, many have gained weight through poor diet, and alcohol consumption in the UK increased during lockdown.
Alcohol is a widely recognised depressant, and after a long period of overindulgence for some, it is easy to understand why people may not be feeling their best.
Coping with uncertainty
There has been a huge amount of talk about the ‘new normal’, but there remains uncertainty about what the future holds, with the prospect of local lockdowns as required. Uncertainty is the reality for all of us for the foreseeable future. The ‘new normal’ means living with an unprecedented level of uncertainty.
It can be helpful to focus on the present and not get caught up in too many ‘what-ifs’. Plan for likely scenarios so employees are prepared for what may happen, and then focus on the short-term certainties.
Some employees may have been bereaved during the lockdown period. Grieving during this period may have been even more difficult for some with funeral restrictions, and limited support available from family and friends. Employees who have been bereaved may require additional support and understanding.
Would you need long-lasting/continuous help within your HR department to deal with anything to do with Post Lockdown Blues? Find out more about our Retained HR Services.
So, how can we feel better?
Working through our emotions during the ongoing covid-19 pandemic requires putting in some extra effort! Investing in both our physical and mental health. It is important to:
- Take care of yourself…ensure you get regular exercise, spend time outdoors, develop good sleep habits, and eat healthily. These are all cornerstones of a healthy lifestyle and are recommended to boost mood and manage symptoms of low mood, anxiety, and depression.
- Have fun! Whilst we don’t currently have all of our usual freedoms, it is possible to have fun. Start a new hobby or spend time on an existing one, meet with family and friends (following the restrictions in place). Plan things to make sure you have something to look forward to.
- Be patient and kind to yourself. Accept that nothing is permanent, and “this too shall pass”. Don’t beat yourself up for the way you are feeling. Take the time to make small changes in your life to make yourself feel batter and be proud of these steps. Continue to build on these changes over time.
- Don’t be afraid of asking for help. If your symptoms persist, contact your GP for advice and support.
How can I support employees to return to work?
- Good management: now, more than ever, it is more important that managers keep in regular contact with their direct reports, checking in regularly, and conducting regular one to ones; giving employees the opportunity to talk and express any concerns they may have.
- Good communication: ensure that all employees are aware of any changes that have been implemented in their workplace and they are aware of what to expect on their return to work, from entering the building and the physical environment through to how their individual role may have been impacted.
- Settling in period: facilitate a settling in period for employees that have been away from the workplace for some time. Re-establish goals and priorities and how these will be achieved. Some employees will need longer than others to adjust.
- Plan for uncertainty: develop plans for any further local or national lockdowns, and share these with employees so they understand what will happen in a variety of circumstances. Where possible, involve employees in the planning process.
- Be kind: ensure that there is a culture and kindness so employees support each other through challenging times.
- Be patient: there is a natural period of adjustment as employees get used to a return to work/the workplace, and most will quickly adjust.
- Be aware of differences/individual support required: some employees will have found the covid-19 pandemic more difficult to cope with than others, for various reasons, and some employees could have been bereaved as a result of covid-19. Put individual support mechanisms in place as necessary and practical.
- Encourage employees to look after their own mental and physical health: eat well, sleep well, exercise regularly.
- Implement additional protective measures for vulnerable employees
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We strongly recommend that individuals:
- Exercise regularly
- Eat well
- Develop good sleep habits
- Have fun and plan things to look forward to
- Be patient and give these things time to work
- Seek further help and support if things don’t improve
We strongly recommend that employers:
- Communicate effectively with employees
- Allow a settling in period
- Plan and prepare for the coming months
- Encourage employees to look after their own mental and physical health
- Foster a culture of kindness and patience
- Offer individual support where required and possible
We hope we have answered or given you ideas around the topic: How To Overcome Post Lockdown Blues
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