Monday marks the end of all remaining Covid-related restrictions in England, which means there are no longer any legal requirements to wear masks or practice social distancing, no limits on the number of people who can gather indoors or outdoors, all businesses can reopen and the work-from-home instruction has been lifted.
After more than a year of grappling with various restrictions and lockdowns, some people will be feeling anxious at the prospect of them suddenly disappearing entirely. These curbs on our freedoms have been in place to help save lives, so it’s understandable to be feeling some trepidation at the potential changes.
If you’re feeling stressed about restrictions easing, here are some things to keep in mind:
1. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to
Even though it looks like everything will open up, you can still hold onto the things that make you feel comfortable. If you’re ready to rip off your mask and hit up a festival, go for it (rules allowing), but otherwise, you can absolutely continue to wear face coverings.
In fact, England’s top scientists – Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance – have said they’ll still be wearing their masks in certain situations, such as if they’re indoors and close to other people, or if someone else is uncomfortable and asks them to.
If all your friends are hitting up the clubs as soon as they open and you don’t quite feel ready yet, just remember: you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to.
2. Everyone’s working at their own pace
Equally, it’s important to cut people a bit of slack. Remember that everyone is on their own journey with what they’re comfortable with; something you feel OK doing might not sit quite as well with someone else. It’s important to practise a bit of kindness and understanding as we all muddle our way through this.
3. You can talk to friends and family about your feelings
Everyone has mixed emotions right now, and sometimes the best thing you can do is vocalise your feelings to your friends and family. Have an open and honest conversation about where you’re at right now, so everyone knows what you’re comfortable with – while also asking how they’re feeling.
4. You can still take time for yourself
While few of us want to go back into lockdown, there are some positive lessons we can learn from it. If you were able to carve out some time for yourself or pick up a new hobby, why not try to continue to incorporate this into your week?
If you start feeling anxious or overwhelmed at rules changing, return to things that centre you: maybe it’s mindfulness, a calming craft activity, or something as simple as sticking to a routine.
5. There are still plenty of ways you can keep safe
Restrictions might be easing, but there are still things you can do to reduce the spread of Covid. Whether it’s diligently washing your hands or taking regular lateral flow tests, there are plenty of measures to put your mind a bit more at ease.