Losses occurred during the pandemic: losses of loved ones, jobs, social lives, travel, confidence, sense of self, so many experiences that we took for granted. We all experienced it differently. For some people, their whole way of life changed; they went from working in an office and going out at night, to self-isolating and working from home, in some cases with no-one else there. For others, the adjustment to working from home and sharing the space with a partner and/or children involved an opposite type of challenge – how to get space and time alone?
For some, not having to travel into an office and spending more time at home was preferable. Some developed new routines of going for walks and taking time for lunch which worked well.
Now that the pandemic is ending, this new normal is no more, and the reality of facing this new phase of re-entry is upon us. New anxieties may surface.
How do we manage to regulate ourselves during the transition, venture out and move into the next phase?
- By going slowly to avoid overwhelming yourself and your nervous system.
- By being patient, reassuring and talking kindly to yourself.
- By being aware of your breath and noticing if you are holding it or breathing shallowly.
- By walking outdoors and noticing nature all around. The trees can sway in the wind and yet are firmly rooted. Notice the new life beginning in the flowers and shrubs. Nature is reflecting a way to come back out slowly.
- By noticing and praising yourself for any and every new step you make. Focus on what is going well for you.
If the anxiety is overwhelming, seeking support from a professional may help.
We lost our beloved poet Brendan Kennelly (April 1936 – October 2021) during the pandemic. His poetry was a source of inspiration. Here is his poem “Begin” which speaks to us as we reopen.
Begin again to the summoning birds
to the sight of the light at the window,
begin to the roar of morning traffic
all along Pembroke Road.
Every beginning is a promise
born in light and dying in dark
determination and exaltation of springtime
flowering the way to work.
Begin to the pageant of queuing girls
the arrogant loneliness of swans in the canal
bridges linking the past and future
old friends passing through with us still.
Begin to the loneliness that cannot end
since it perhaps is what makes us begin,
begin to wonder at unknown faces
at crying birds in the sudden rain
at branches stark in the willing sunlight
at seagulls foraging for bread
at couples sharing a sunny secret
alone together while making good.
Though we live in a world that dreams of ending
that always seems about to give in
something that will not acknowledge conclusion
insists that we forever begin.
— From The Essential Brendan Kennelly