With the fear of another lockdown taking effect with little notice, most of us want to make the most of this zenith between waves and go hard before we go home indefinitely. But we must be careful not to burn out either, so it’s time to strike a healthy balance between Eating Out to Help Out and eating in to save our financial and physical resources. Because, ultimately, the pandemic won’t be over until we have a successful vaccine and – let’s face it – that could be a long way off.
In the meantime, we’re being told to keep alert and carry on making the most of eased restrictions until the inevitable second spike in cases which might overwhelm the health sector. It feels like we’re at a nationwide barbecue and we’re moving our chairs to the corner of the garden to get the most of the sunshine before the ominous cloud of the second wave takes away our limited freedom.
This year has been the most unique in modern history. Coronavirus is far from the ‘great leveller’ it was touted to be back in March. As the months have passed, it’s been clear that the economic, emotional and physical impact of the virus on an individual varies from a multitude of factors. Yet the fact remains that, collectively, we have experienced a trauma.
When we go through a shared experience like this, it’s tempting to compare your recovery to others. But, as governments across the globe know all too well, there’s no rule book on how to deal with a global pandemic, either as a nation, or as an individual. No two people deal with, or express hurt in the same way. Some may have taken to the Covid experience like a duck to water. Others like a duck on water: calm on the surface while paddling like hell underneath. Many may have just ducked out altogether. Even my individual coping mechanisms have been inconsistent. I’ve metamorphosed from introversion to extroversion, health kicks to over indulgence and productivity to complete inactivity.
The temptation is there to compare you to you. Dealing with a huge disruption in your life is an evolving thing, so don’t be too harsh on yourself if you’re going through a rough patch. As well as going through trauma, we are also all in a state of mourning. Many families are grieving the death of a loved one, and their experience is undoubtedly the most scarring. Grief, too, can extend beyond death. Millions of us will be mourning the loss of jobs, relationships, money and our mental health due to the coronavirus crisis.
Now that the strictest lockdown measures have passed, the ordeal is both over and ongoing. Trauma and grief can also lead to us turning on each other, looking for a place to lay blame for our emotions. Studies have shown that on a societal level, the impact of collective trauma can lead to increased individual and national fear, damaged national pride, feelings of humiliation, identity crisis, vulnerability and heightened vigilance for new threats. So we can be forgiven for wanting to celebrate the little wins while they last: a hug with a relative, a pint with a mate… But we do so in the knowledge that these things could be taken from us if the situation deteriorates come autumn or winter. The feeling on the ground is one of inconsistency. April’s rules were pretty clear. August, not so much. With localised lockdowns and differing regulations across the World, some are sticking to the rules to avoid a second wave, whilst others are simply waiving them.
However you’re getting through this, remember that it’s just as important to respect the coping mechanisms of others as it is your own. Don’t take it personally if your mate isn’t quite ready to meet for a pint, or if they don’t feel comfortable popping round for a brew, we’re all going through something, but in a technicolour spectrum of different ways. I’m taking this limbo period as it comes. Who knows how long it will last, if more of us will face compartmentalisation in the form of local lockdowns or if a second wave will even come after all. Either way, we know we have the resilience to get through it, because we already have, and that counts for something. I might as well have a drink while I’m waiting…