As lockdown restrictions are eased, we are all wondering what ‘normal’ is going to look like. Most of us have become quite used to spending more time at home, so what’s the smoothest way to navigate the changes ahead?

Quarantine at home has been an opportunity for some: We have learned to cook new recipes, we have decorated, and have spent more time with our households, or have learned to spend more time by ourselves. Whatever your reality, we have all faced a true culture shock, and are likely to continue to do so as the, so-called, “new norm” begins. Below are some recommendations to help support you through these times of change.

  1. Pace yourself
    You don’t have to reconnect with everyone on day one or eat in every single restaurant the first week they reopen. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself or others to be social. Take your time to slowly rebuild your relationships and return to old habits. You might have the option to return to the office, or to continue working from home for a period, weigh up what you feel comfortable with.
  2. Be understanding
    Everyone experiences the reverse culture shock at different rates, so be mindful of that. Just because you’re raring to get back into the swing of things doesn’t mean everyone else is. Make allowances for others to adjust and give them the time and space they need.
  3. Hold on to your lockdown positives
    If there were parts of isolation that you loved – perhaps it was exercising or reading, cooking at home more often, being more involved in your kids’ schoolwork – there is no reason you can’t bring these positives back into the “new norm” with you. By continuing the things which played a positive part in your lockdown routine, you are likely to soften the culture shock of your return to normalcy.

If you find yourself needing a boost after the past few months, we recommend following these tips to help:

  • Call in the reinforcements If you need a push, you may need to call for backup. Call your friends and/or family for support or identify a reward you will give yourself when you achieve a certain goal or action.
  • Start small You don’t have to be fast and you don’t have to go big. Big things can feel overwhelming, so take micro-actions to get your momentum rolling again – small, but positive steps that you won’t give a second thought, but will keep you moving forward. For example, you can start off with a 10-minute walk every day and build up to an hour.
  • Start the clock! If you’re struggling to motivate yourself for something that’s a little harder to get excited about, a deadline could be just what you need. Choose a task, set a timer (for say 25 minutes) and focus fully on that task until the timer goes off – the short time frame makes it feel more manageable to stay focused, and the progress you make will give you the motivation to continue.

It’s uncertain what the new normal will bring but it’s the direction we are heading in. Allow yourself the time to adjust and remember, we’re all in this together!

If you currently study with Ulster University Branch Campuses, and the prospect of returning to everyday life is making you particularly anxious, our Student Welfare Team is always here to support. Please contact one of the team on +44 (0)121 756 9578.