Coming out of our Covid-19 bubble is something everyone has been looking forward to. Mixed emotions will inevitably arise – hope, relief, anticipation, worry, apprehension, disappointment, and confusion to name just some of many. A shift between Stages of pandemic response impacts families and individuals in various ways, and most but not all those ways will be predictable to us. There’ll be some surprises along the way. Experiences we didn’t anticipate alongside with those we expected. Whatever our own experience will be it’s important to recognise that each individual’s transition between response stages is their own. We need to keep an open mind, prepare as best we can, continue to be kind, don’t sweat the small stuff, and be flexible along the way. Our journey and transition between stages may not be the same as our colleague’s, our neighbours, or the loved ones in our bubble and that’s OK. We’ll all move forward together but if it’s at a slightly different pace – with different experiences, reactions, highs and lows than those around us in our immediate community – embrace it. It’s simply us expressing the unique person we are. Here are nine useful tips to help transitioning from one response stage to the next:
Value and look for the moments of stability and respite from uncertainty, and be aware that not everyone will respond or do what you expect them to at times. Be patient. Everyone will adapt at a different pace. There’ll be those for whom there’s not been much difference between Stage 4 and Stage 3, for example, other than more traffic on the road, or finally being able to get a tradie to visit or get on to some outstanding odd jobs. For others, Stages 2 and 1 have far greater implications in terms of recovery, re-starting and re-engaging and new normal in terms of infection control, and health and safety. Amidst that change prioritise if you need to those moments and activities of time out where you can take stock and re-charge.
Think about the new routines and activities you have really valued and ways you can keep them going. Some things in lockdown will have been hard, but there will also have been opportunity to undertake new routines, get back into hobbies, and rediscover interests and activities at home. Just as workplaces have to redesign pre-Covid-19 routines, there are opportunities moving forward for individuals and families to do the same.
Appreciate. Wow, the things we have missed will be so much shinier than they were before. Having things, freedoms, and connections taken away is a great reminder of the small things we may have taken for granted but now have a new appreciation for. No matter the challenges ahead, those small wins we get back can put a smile in every day and likely will for some time.
Plan ahead. Think about what you need, what has to be done (e.g. children back to school, family members back at work or working in a different way than during lockdown, social distancing guidelines and what that means for how I shop and undertake basic errands and activities), and what that means moving forward. The more prepared we feel we are the more relaxed and in control we will become. If our plans don’t come to fruition, that’s OK. The process of planning will help us adapt and create a new one, and the more factors we can control (e.g. hand sanitizer in the car rather than relying on a store to always have some available) the less concerned we will be.
Optimistic realism. While we are transitioning down the scale of pandemic response there is always the possibility we may have to transition back up at some stage, as a nation or as a region. Research has clearly found that those who have coped best with extremely trying circumstances have practiced underlying optimism tempered immediate realism. The same principle applies to those of us in business. While ultimate confidence is never lost there may be some hiccups along the way and we need to be aware of that. But, if we go back up the pandemic responses stage at some time it is important to remember we will be better prepared and able to adjust due to prior experience.
Continue to embrace new and expect change will be ongoing. There has never been a better time to try something new and do things in a different way. Lockdown can provide powerful reflection and insight for new opportunities, interests and ways of doing things at an individual, family and community level. While continual change, even small changes, can be disruptive at times they can also lead to personal and professional opportunities. The power of reframing will be a valuable skill to learn and help us manage our initial response and perception of stuff that is new – within our control and not – both personally and at work.
Try as best you can not to sweat the small stuff. Enough said.
Experiencing some anxiety about infection is absolutely normal and OK. It’s what we do with that anxiety, high or low, that matters. It may take some transition time for some workers to get used to the new ways of working even though some essential workers have all had time to practice and adapt during lockdown. Help others adjust respecting and modelling good infection control practices yourself, keeping to the standards established for safe work and community engagement. Show confidence in the personal protective measures you have put in place with good reason and implemented for both yourself and those you are responsible for and care for.
Keep valuing the connections we have made. As we come out of our bubbles it can be easy to lose the value of the connections we have established during lockdown.
For more information on this issue contact Chartered Organisational Psychologist, Jonathan Black, at email@example.com.