Eight tips to help the extremely vulnerable manage their reintegration into the ‘new normal’.
As the world opens up, those who have been shielding may still have concerns over the relaxation of restrictions and anxieties about getting back into the ‘new normal’. Take a look at our eight tips if you’re feeling anxious about the next steps.
Acknowledge your Anxiety
Some people have been alone or isolating together for many, many months now, and building the confidence again to go outside, shop, see people and do other things take time. It’s important to understand and accept that you may anxiety over re-integrating yourself into a lifestyle and activities that we all took for granted at the start of the year.
Reintegrate yourself slowly. Choose a close family member, friend or neighbour to meet outdoors at first (if possible). Can you go for a walk with them or just sit in a garden or park and still adhere to social distancing?
If you haven’t already, arm yourself with confidence-building protective gloves and facemasks. It may help your confidence if you are able to upgrade your existing PPE by sourcing some of the thicker, fitted masks, rather than the more common blue & white ones.
Set Clear Boundaries In Advance
When meeting people for the first time again, talk to them about your concerns beforehand, so that they are prepared and know your expectations. From no hugging or touching, keeping to 2 meters, using hand sanitiser before anyone enters your home or even staying outside etc.. Whatever measures you feel you need to take.
For some who’ve been shielding, it may be helpful to start by getting back into the outdoors alone or with your carer. Finding your feet again both physically and mentally to reintroduce the outside as part of your comfort zone and not a stressful or anxiety-inducing exercise.
Avoid Busy Spaces
Walk to your local shop or a shop you feel is spacious or a quiet shop, rather than a busy high street store and choose an off-peak period when you may be the only customer to build your confidence slowly.
Reintroduce your Favourite Activities
We all had passions, hobbies and activities we enjoyed pre-lockdown. Some of these may still not be possible, but others will be available – even if their settings or structures have been modified. Take a look at which ones you can pick up again. Focus on choosing activities that made life enjoyable and try to reintegrate these back into your routine.
Kindness and Understanding
If you are visiting or meeting anyone who has been shielding, understand that they may have anxieties and try to reassure them that you understand and are happy to adhere to safety measures that they stipulate. It’s important they feel supported to come out of shielding at the pace they are comfortable with.