Beauties, after over a year and three lockdowns here in the UK, lockdown is finally easing and things are starting to open up again. For many people, this is a source of anxiety as the situation is still very uncertain and we’re still dealing with ongoing trauma from the past year. Today, we’re sharing a post from Katherine Sidnell who is speaking about her experiences with advice from transformational life coach and author Bhavya Arora about how to start regaining confidence in the face of uncertainty.
Unshakeable confidence in the wake of uncertainty: How to leave lockdown more confident than ever by Katherine Sidnell
It’s official. By late June, with any luck, all restrictions should be lifted and lockdown will become a distant memory. Though lower infection rates and vaccine rollouts should be a cause for celebration, many women, including myself, feel anxious. The thought of catch ups in crowded pubs fill me with dread, as does returning to work. It’s unsurprising given that for well over a year, our homes and the new routines that we built became a refuge for us. The world outside may have been consumed by a pandemic, but behind closed doors we were safe. This is especially true for those in the BAME community, who simultaneously had to cope with the trauma of events in the US. It’s understandable then why many of us are so hesitant to return to our old lives.
Even with government guidelines, trying to judge what is safe and right for us as individuals is exhausting. The reality is that there is no one size fits all rule when leaving lockdown. So how do we begin to feel confident as we begin to return to normality?
Well, I caught up with transformational life coach and author Bhavya Arora to find out how.
Acknowledge your emotions
If COVID has taught me anything, it was that its dangerous to hope. Especially, as a vulnerable young woman isolating alone. Hundreds of miles away from my loved ones with no safe means of getting home, I’d scroll through endless articles desperately seeking any positive news. Defeated, I’d sob uncontrollably on my sofa wondering when it would all end. This went on for over twelve weeks.
Acknowledging our emotions will also help us accurately judge what is right for us and feel more confident in our decisions as we go out more. You may not be ready for crowded pubs, whereas activities such as going for a leisurely coffee with a friend might not feel so daunting. It’s at this point that Bhavya reminds me that “fear will always be present, because it is linked with the unknown. You can either live in it or live with it”. The key is to start with small challenges.
I did this a few days later, when I met my friend on Clapham Common for a picnic. Recent events and months away from The Common, had made it feel so unfamiliar. I even felt awkward talking, trying desperately to avoid the C word and remember what it was like to speak to someone other than my flatmate. I couldn’t help but shift uneasily on the picnic blanket when we initially sat down. But after a few minutes, it was if nothing had changed. Sipping a small glass of prosecco, I was so grateful to be reunited with my friend and that I challenged myself. Small wins like this have helped me to feel more confident and build up my resilience, which was so depleted during the pandemic.
Make time for self-care
As I take my first tentative steps out of lockdown I’m finding that it’s easier when you put your best face forward. Being forced to socialise again has made me realise just how lazy I’ve become with my beauty routine. It’s even more apparent when I look in the mirror and see the stress of 2020 etched on my face. This is why the last few weeks of lockdown are the perfect time to start investing in ourselves again. It could simple thing like using sunscreen daily, finding a great moisturiser or reviewing your skincare routine. Back in January, I began using The Ordinary’s 2% Hyaluronic Acid to boost my moisturiser and it’s honestly been a game changer as my dry skin has all but disappeared now. Using products like this not only gives my skin a much needed lift following the cold winter months, but they also force me to make time for some much needed self-care.
Small acts like this allow us to reconnect with our body and mind, with the added bonus of boosting our confidence at the same time. Practises like these are essential as life returns to normal and inevitably becomes busier. It’s at this point, Bhavya states how important it is to learn what self-care means to you as we leave lockdown. Too often we are taught that self-care revolves around relaxation, when we should emphasise what nourishes us. “There are a lot of gaps in our lives..” She argues. “…you can fill these in one of two ways: mask it or really go deep.” As I reflect on this, I realise just how important the less glamourous aspects of self-care were during lockdown. Making time to cook something nutritious rather than ordering takeaway, tidying up so I have space to be creative and charging my phone before bed so I can go on my morning run. Although these chores can be tedious, they have a huge impact on my life. Without them, I often waste time or don’t hit my goals. As a consequence, I feel less confident. I’ve now vowed to continue making choices that help nourish me on a deeper level.
It’s important to recognise that the coming months will be challenging for everyone, as we navigate new restrictions and busier lives. Now more than ever it’s important to notice changes in your energy levels, mental health and general wellbeing. The desire to return to work and socialise immediately after months trapped at home can be overwhelming. Despite the best intentions though, you may find that you are still nervous around crowds or that you are simply too exhausted to go out. It’s also okay if you find that you no longer enjoy your old lifestyle. After all, COVID has changed us all.
It’s made me take stock of my life and ultimately, to me quitting a job in The City which no longer respected my need for a work/life balance. I remember being called in to our new multi-million pound office days before the second lockdown, only to be told that my colleagues were now redundant and that my workload would double. I’d worked till 10pm every night that week and clients called me around the clock. I gave my notice the next day and it was undoubtedly the right decision. Despite all the stress, I’ve gained so much confidence from being able to assert my needs and pursue a career I’m passionate about.
Not everyone will need to drastically change their lives as I did, but it’s still important to decide what feels right for you and establish firm boundaries. This may feel strange, particularly with loved ones or your employer, but it will help you stay resilient in the long term. If you are unsure about this, Bhavya advises that you utilise your support network. Loved ones, professional and colleagues can act as a sounding bar, giving advice which will help you to feel more confident with your decisions. ”If you struggle, get support. There is no shame in it.” As she pointed out.“…it means you are ready and wanting to change and move out of your situation.”
Be Kind to Yourself
It’s easy to assume that everyone seems to be thriving. Humble brag posts about homemade meals, workouts and idyllic walks cause us to scrutinise our lives. Driven to emulate what we see on social media, we are pushed to the point of burnout. It’s a draining cycle, in which we entrap ourselves. In reality, everyone is trying to figure out what their “new normal” is and everyone will feel the strain. This can be a great source of confidence though, as we can find solidarity in our shared struggle. It’s not your fault that you are finding it tough, it is just that tough.
In recognising this, we can allow ourselves more compassion. 2020 took away our life’s certainties, along with our sense of safety and control. It’s unsurprising then, that many of us have been left traumatised. Having lived through an incredibly dark period of history, it’s important to understand that sometimes just surviving is impressive. By looking back and appreciating everything we’ve achieved in spite of COVID, we can be more confident going forward. Surviving 2020 has taken no small amount of inner strength and when we look back we will find that we’ve not just survived, we’ve thrived.
Of course, there will be dark days when everything feels insurmountable, but in these moments we can remind ourselves that we will be okay. Last year proved that we have the tools to tackle whatever lies ahead. We may feel broken, frightened and sad but this is temporary, just like the pandemic. And though the prospect of leaving lockdown is daunting, it can be strangely liberating. Life may never fully return to normal, but maybe we can build something better to replace it.
So as you begin those uneasy steps out of lockdown, keep your head up high and know that you have at least one person cheering you on. Even if it is from behind a mask.