Are we completely ready for hugs?

It seems we have finally made it to Freedom Day. But alongside this positive news, many of us may currently be experiencing emotions we either do not recognise or do not understand. From feelings of disconnection and lack of motivation to panic, stress and anger we examine some of the emotional states we may be experiencing and what we can do to alleviate them.  


1. Time to find the ‘real normal’ again

Our first forays into socialising may for some of us feel a little strange and uncomfortable. For now at least we just cannot throw off the feelings of disconnection that have become so much part of who we are. However, rather than shutting down and withdrawing from the situation, we could consider that these difficult feelings are simply the result of forgetting how to enjoy our friends’ company after not seeing them for so long. So, we have to give ourselves time. Time to let the old normal recede. Time to let the new normal in. And time to appreciate over and above all this what the ‘real normal’ is. 


2. Re-learning to socially engage

It may be that we are noticing a certain lack of motivation at plans to return to social groups and workplaces; and we may be asking ourselves: why am I not ready to get going now that everything is opening up again? The truth is human beings are creatures of habit, and it just so happens our new habits are to keep ourselves to ourselves. All behaviour is re-enforced over time; and social avoidance is no different. But just as we all learned to develop social distancing habits in 2020, we can re-learn to develop social engagement habits in 2021. Start small and build from there. Lunch with a friend, then two friends, then a group activity. All the while, remembering everyone adjusts at their own pace – so we should not be made to feel uncomfortable by the rate at which other people expect us to adapt. Instead, we can plan our own course.


3. Conflicted and confused feelings

Endless change in the outer world can lead to endless change in our inner worlds. And this in turn can lead to mixed feelings. Should we be exhilarated at the thought of being able to hug our loved ones after all this time or anxious that we might be putting them at risk? Conflicted and confused emotions can leave us to not knowing which way to turn. Any therapy that involves a creative dimension such as art therapy can help us integrate opposite emotions. This is also a good time to remind ourselves that mixed feelings are completely natural, especially in a time of endless change. You can read our article on this here.


4. Panic at thoughts of not being prepared

The most unnatural ways of living when repeated over and over can seem very natural indeed; so it’s no wonder that the easing of lockdown and a return to some kind of normality may be stirring up feelings of stress. After all this time, we are perhaps feeling panicked at thoughts of not being prepared for what is to come. Practising Mindfulness or Yoga are great coping strategies to help manage emotions like this. If you do find yourself feeling stressed, try to bring yourself back to where you are, slow your breathing down or try a muscle relaxation exercise. RB Mind runs our own Mindfulness workshop every Monday morning. You can find details of how to join here.


5. Validating painful emotions

The Coronavirus crisis has not been the same for everyone. Indeed many of us may have seen our lives change beyond all recognition over the past year. We may be angry at how the crisis has affected people differently, or disgusted by the manner in which politicians have handled it. Validating these painful emotions by telling yourself you are ‘allowed’ to feel this way will help you to accept them. But if these feelings are becoming unmanageable, it could be time to seek some support for your mental health. Richmond Borough Mind has a range of services to help people deal with difficult thoughts and feelings at this time. You can find the help we offer here.


Call us now if you need someone to talk to on 020 3137 9590.