The End of Lockdown: Fight, Flight or Freeze?

When I first volunteered to write an article back in January, my thoughts around mental health were around coping in lockdown. Now though, in the middle of May and with lockdown due to ease soon, it is starting to feel very different and may bring more challenges mentally to some.
May 11 2021

If you think of the traditional change curve, some of us will fly through the easing of restrictions.  Some perhaps cannot wait to get out and about, travel around the UK for holidays, book trips abroad, meet up with friends again, meet at the pub / inside the pub.

However for others, this relaxing of tight rules could bring more of a challenge and we should be just as mindful of how others are reacting now as we were in the tightening of the rules as people may feel more out of control than ever.

Where some may see freedom emerging, others can see change again and may reel from being allowed out to meet with people.  It is reported that it takes 21 days/repeats to set a new habit so for a lot of people, the routines established over months in lockdown will be hard to break and some people may not want to break those routines.  In fact, the fight or flight has now become Fight, Flight or Freeze i.e. do nothing.

Working from home has become the way of life for so many people, and they may not want to change that routine; leave their home, have to drive again, spend money on travelling, even for a day or two a week

For some people, a partner may have “retired” as several companies made people redundant during the last year; your partner is used to having you around and now you are going back into an office, which is another big change to deal with

A colleague told me recently that she had met up with a friend for the first time in ages. They were outside, kept 2 meters apart and both had already received their first vaccines, but still, she did not feel safe taking off her mask

A company director I am working with shared some of his experiences back in January and spoke about things he had learnt from last year; where he had felt that he was “always being on”, he was now focusing on how you switch off.  Some of the practices he shared will also help in our “new world”:

  • Booking out lunch slots
  • 45 minute meetings instead of the routine 1 hour
  • “Walk to work”. Even though you may be working from home, create a routine where you leave the house in the morning and walk back to “work”, and then repeat at the end of the working day as well; this creates a visible and physical break between home and work

Other ideas I have seen that have really started to make a difference and may already be in place in some companies, include:

  • Appointing a Mental Health First Aider to provide key messages such as “Today is Time to Talk; I am here to listen; its ok to not be ok; you don’t have to struggle in silence.”
  • Regular team slots to just talk about “things” such as football, weather, last night’s tv – with no pressure; the lead notices when people are quiet, and privately checks in with them
  • Regular company updates to share what is going on, and give an opportunity to ask questions

Mental health and wellness are key focus areas for us at Leading Resolutions. We have launched a challenge on our partner innovation site, LEO, to look for innovative ways to measure wellness, particularly in the new ‘working from home’ world.

In Summary

Be aware of how you impact other people’s mental health

Consider how people impact you

At times you need to put yourself first; have a lunch break, every day

Be kind to yourself

A little TLC goes a long way

The Author

Carol Apperley