‘Hooray! Yoga classes can start in person again from May 17th! Everything can go back to normal!’
This is how most yoga teachers and students are expected to be feeling. We have been told that lockdown is hard, teaching online is second best to in-person classes, and that we should all be champing at the bit to ‘get back to normal’…but what is normal?
Our normal now is teaching online, staying at home, going for a daily walk, and having the odd picnic in the park with friends (when it isn’t snowing – thanks British weather).
It’s been over a year since ‘normal’ was our busy life of going from place to place, interacting with people and spending downtime at home.
How Has This Affected Us?
For many people, including those with mental health issues, this year has been a welcome change. That’s not to say that Covid-19 has been a good thing, but life BC (Before Covid) was too frenetic for many people. Having a simple life with plenty of time at home with loved ones, and time spent in nature has created a quieter, calmer lifestyle.
There is also the uncertainty that over a year of living in a pandemic has brought. Without a certain future we are unable to plan, and this adds to anxiety levels.
What Can We Do About It?
We can’t predict the future, but we can manage how we approach the lifting of lockdown restrictions and the way we return to normal without extra stress.
Here are eight tips for managing post-lockdown anxiety:
1. Small Steps – In what is fast becoming my new motto, just because we CAN do something, doesn’t mean we HAVE to. If you don’t feel ready to go back to the yoga studio, even if every Covid regulation box is ticked, you don’t have to. There are plenty of online classes still available. If you’re a yoga teacher you don’t HAVE to move all your online classes back to in-person ones. Try having just one a week in person and see what the take-up is.
2. Stay Safe – Covid-19 is a virus, and as such it doesn’t follow the roadmap rules. Despite the vaccine rollout we still need to keep ourselves and others safe by following the guidelines and keeping our distance from each other. If heading back out into the world means you feel unsafe then don’t do it.
3. Start Socialising – If you don’t feel ready to go back to teaching or attending yoga classes in a studio yet it might be that you need to adjust to seeing friends and family first. This will boost your wellbeing and get you used to being around other people. Be clear about your boundaries, and if you want to keep a mask on, let the other person/people know before you meet.
4. Just say No – It’s ok to say No. If your yoga teacher asks if you’re ready to go back to in-person classes and you’re not, just say no. If your students ask when everything will get back to normal and you’re not ready to rush about all over town yet, just say that you’re not sure yet, but you’ll keep them informed.
5. Talk to Friends and Colleagues – If you’re not sure how you feel about getting back to normal but you feel like you’re the only one, take some time to talk to your own yoga teacher, to yoga teacher colleagues, and regular friends. They might be feeling exactly the same, in which case you can air your worries to each other. Or they might be feeling really positive about teaching again, in which case they’re enthusiasm might be the boost you’re needing.
6. Ask for Help – If you have a pre-existing mental health condition it might be that you need to ask for professional help in order to manage your return to a post-lockdown normality. Your GP will help support you with mental health issues. You can also get in touch with the Anxiety UK Helpline to talk through concerns.
7. Adapt Your Routine – If change throws you then this past year has been quite a challenge. A regular routine can help to navigate life with less anxiety. Have a look at your current lockdown routine and work out what you would like to stick to and what you could change. Perhaps if you’re a yoga teacher you’d like to stick to teaching online in the evenings or at weekends as this fits into family life better. If it works for you then keep it in – adapt the parts of your routine that work for you.
8. Be Kind to Yourself – Don’t underestimate the impact this year will have had on your mental health. Fear, loss, grief, anxiety, uncertainty, loneliness have taken their toll on most of the world. If you feel ready to head back to in-person yoga then that’s great. But if you don’t feel ready then that’s ok and completely normal too.