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Lockdown easing: “I’ve just settled into my ‘new normal’ – the idea of things changing again is overwhelming”

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Lauren Geall
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Are you finding it hard to imagine everything changing again when the lockdown restrictions are lifted? Here, one writer explores her experience of change fatigue – and why the idea of going back to “normal” isn’t as exciting as it once seemed.

When I first started working from home over six weeks ago, everything felt rather sudden. One moment I was working from my desk in London, catching the bus to and from work as usual and hugging my colleagues. The next, I was back at my parent’s house in the countryside, trying to create a makeshift desk space and contemplating an uncertain future.

Within a week of this new arrangement, Boris Johnson had announced the country was going under lockdown. Amid a flurry of Zoom calls, long distance dates and waves of anxiety, I spent most of my time trying to come to terms with this new way of life. 

You see, I, like many humans, love a bit of routine. While some people might roll their eyes at the predictability of a schedule, I revel in it. 

The familiarity of catching the bus to work, having my morning cup of tea and sitting down for a natter with my colleagues is something that brings me joy. Of course, outside of work things vary day by day depending on what I’m doing in the evening and who I’m seeing, but having a general idea of what to expect from a day helps me to feel calm and collected. 

As I say, I’m not the only one – for most of us, having a routine helps to give (much-needed) structure to our lives. When all of that is made impossible overnight thanks to a global pandemic? It’s a lot to handle.

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Of course, I know I’m very lucky to be able to work from home, and I’m grateful that I’ve still got my job to add a bit of structure to my day. But I’m not ashamed to say it took me a couple of weeks to get into the swing of things, both from a working perspective and also in terms of how I’m feeling.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been on a bit of a rollercoaster ride with my emotions: from random bouts of tears to feeling exhausted, I’ve felt all the feels. Now, after many a wobbly week, it finally feels like I might have found my new “normal” routine – and the idea of everything changing again is too much to handle.

I’m talking, of course, about the chance of Boris Johnson easing the lockdown restrictions at the end of the current three week extension. Everyone has their own reasons for wanting lockdown to end – and I totally respect that – but right now the idea that I’ll have to find yet another new “normal” is too exhausting to think about.

A woman working from home
Settling into a new normal was hard – the idea of doing it again is exhausting.

I’m also incredibly anxious about what the lifting of lockdown restrictions could mean for the future of the pandemic. As ministers have warned, lifting the lockdown too soon or too fast could lead to a “second wave” of coronavirus infections which could lead to yet another period of lockdown. In fact, without a vaccine, we’re going to be at risk of a second or third wave for months to come. 

With all this considered, I’ve found myself experiencing a creeping feeling of discomfort every time someone mentions the easing of lockdown restrictions and a return to semi-normal life. It’s a feeling I’ve found myself referring to as “change fatigue”. While I know that going back to pre-lockdown life will be great, I also feel like I’m not quite ready to rush back into things. 

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Indeed, ever since lockdown started I’ve indulged in dreams of drinks in pub gardens and spending empty hours sat in a park, but as I become more and more adjusted to this new way of life, the idea of everything suddenly changing is… not OK.

For now, all I can really trust is that the return to “normal” life – if such a thing really exists – happens in a gradual and measured way. I know I’ll be able to deal with things changing again (after all, I’ve dealt with the chaos that’s been the last couple of months) but I’m also happy plodding along with my new routine.

It’s the simple things, right?

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Lauren Geall

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