REPOST – Our worlds are changing again: how to adjust to unlocking, avoid ‘re-entry syndrome’ and emerge strongly in the ‘new normal’

With the opening up of Covid-19 restrictions across the UK on 19 July, it seemed timely to re-post this earlier piece.


Our worlds are changing again. ‘New normal’ is a clumsy phrase but we will all need to start another period of re-adjustment as the pandemic eases and lockdown restrictions are lifted. Here in the UK, we are anticipating the removal of recommended home working and mandates for mask-wearing. The re-opening of night clubs and pubs, and reductions in many travel restrictions.

The changes in next few months may well trigger anxiety referred to as ‘re-entry syndrome’, or ‘reverse culture shock’. Observed in long-term travellers, Arctic scientists, humanitarian aid workers, and New Yorkers post-9/11, it’s possible you may be feeling anticipatory anxiety as society ‘unlocks’. Getting on public transport again. Navigating crowds. Being in the office.

As the US Department of State notes: home has changed; you have changed; you have adapted to another culture and now must readapt.

But how? Writing recently in The Guardian, psychiatrist Jon Van Niekirk advises some simple steps:

Van Neikirk recommends that people:

Realise that the worst is unlikely to happen

Practice mindfulness, which can help reduce negative thoughts

Don’t avoid the discomfort of going out or changing routine – but do it incrementally

Talk to someone – don’t suffer in silence.

These seem to be sensible steps, and we would add one more that applies to everyone:

Keep spending time connecting with nature. It will lower anxiety, improve life satisfaction, and help you think more clearly.

If you want to know more about how coaching and nature can help, get in touch.

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