Taken from the Fashion Media module on the Vogue Fashion Certificate 10-week course, student, imagining a post-Covid world, Ashika Idnani considers what the future might look like and how we will adjust…
2020: an emotional and psychological rollercoaster from hell. Unpredictable, life-changing, and stressful. If only we could pretend it did not happen. How do we mentally come back from that experience?
The Unprecedented Experience of 2020
Saying 2020 was unimaginable would be an understatement. The year was a once in a lifetime experience that a majority of people would not want to re-live. For most of us, 2020 forced us to be alone, which gave us time to be introspective. While self-reflection is never a bad thing, too much time spent thinking leads to overthinking and as a result can bring up strong emotions. In addition to this, being alone and the concept of isolation became the new normal. All we were told throughout the year was to stay inside, avoid contact with others, and protect ourselves. All these rules were ingrained in us for the better of 2020. Imagining a post-Covid World, this begs the question: how does one break this pattern and simply go back to normal life?
The Rise of Anxiety throughout the Pandemic
Post-Covid anxiety is a normal response and mainly presents itself as fear and depression. It is experienced by many. In fact, more than two-thirds of adults in the UK reported feeling worried about their future and wellbeing as well as feeling stressed and anxious. Research showed that during lockdown there was a significant deterioration in several measures of a person’s well-being such as; life satisfaction, feelings that things done in life are worthwhile, happiness, and anxiety.
All of these issues raise serious concerns as not only do these feelings have a drastic impact on mental health. As a consequence, the pandemic also caused social determinants such as economic stability, social and community contexts as well as health care thereby making readjusting to normal life an even harder task.
Understanding Adjustment Disorder
From the viewpoint of Clinical Psychologist Karen Nimmo, the shift from lockdown to normal life can cause “Adjustment Disorder”. By definition, this is an excessive reaction to a stressful life event that can impair function at home, work, or school. It can also be referred to as “situational depression,” in this case stemming from Covid-19. How each individual attempts to reintegrate themselves into normal life will vary depending on their own experiences from lockdown. Some people will experience different stressors such as financial, family, or relationship problems. However, some will just be excited to return to normality. This being said most people, particularly if they have solid social support will have adjusted to the new normal within six months.
Adjusting to life post-Covid
Based on her research, Nimmo proposes 7 ways to re-adjust to “real life”:
- Give everyone time to settle. Returning to a previous life after a big change can be a struggle, especially after a substantial amount of time alone. It may be hard to understand the view of others. It is best not to expect too much out of others or yourself.
- Have short term goals. Aside from looking at the bigger picture, it is important to set small goals with deadlines while in the transition period. Achieve each goal methodically and celebrate each one as you go along to get used to the new way of life.
- Get your family on the same page. Lockdown may have caused some to improve their relationships but cause friction with others. It is important to discuss and talk about any conflicts that may have occurred and focus on helping each other and being there for each other.
- Don’t overload kids with activities. Just like adults, kids need time to ease back in. Even if they may have missed out on a lot, making them do too much too soon may cause both of you to feel overwhelmed.
- Make sure you have social support. Each individual struggles and transition will be different. Some will have it worse than others. It is important to talk about these struggles rather than go through it yourself.
- Be where your feet are. Live in the present and focus on being there with the people that matter. Even when going through tough days, instead of overthinking the situation, deal with things as they arise. One day at a time.
- Think about how you want to live. Lockdown has given everyone the chance to re-evaluate their lives. Focus on what you want, who you want to do it with, and how you want to live your life. Act on what you can.
Building our awareness of trauma
Following this, life coaches Jenny Rodgers and Julia Vaughan Smith believe that, in a time like this, it is extremely crucial to be trauma-aware. Everyone will have a unique response to the situation. Their responses will be a combination of their trauma history, survival, attachment patterns, and their present reality.
Trauma occurs as a neuro-psychological response to a life-threatening experience. It is a body-based response to conditions that can be viewed as highly unsafe. Rodgers and Smith base their clients’ responses on Ruppert’s Model which describes the way individuals cope with trauma. At the forefront, there is the ‘trauma self’ which presents itself in feelings of rage, terror, shame, and vulnerability. After that, there is the ‘survival self’ which embodies different strategies. This includes feelings, such as denial, control, addictive habits, depression, and anxiety. Finally, there is the ‘healthy self’ which is when individuals can self-regulate and face reality for what it is. In order to transition back into normality, it is essential to recognise the ‘survival self,’ by letting go of the previous coping mechanisms and turning it into the ‘healthy self’.
Managing expectations and investing in our wellbeing
When imagining a post-Covid world, life and well-being coach, Dawn C Reid, suggests that it is all about a person’s mindset. How someone views themselves, their present and their future will impact how they support themselves. It is essential to be in touch with one’s emotions. Individuals need to be able to make connections between what they feel and what might be holding them back to help themselves build resilience. Some people might also need to create a new normal for themselves. Furthermore, it is key to have to be able to identify clear, realistic actions and expectations based on each individual’s resources and current financial, mental, and social situation.
All things considered, it is evident that transitioning back to normal life will be a gradual process that needs to be eased into. In the same manner, in which people took time to adjust to lockdown, it will also take time to connect with our new post-Covid lives. It could take longer for some than others, however, the process cannot be rushed. Each individual is going through a different situation and there is no way to judge yourself based on others. Despite Covid-19 leaving a mark in all our lives. Imagining a post-Covid World, all we can do is invest in our physical and mental wellbeing in order to readjust and rebuild our lives.
By Ashika Idnani
The next Vogue Fashion Certificate 10-week course starts this April 2021.
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