At the end of 2019 I’m sure no-one imagined we’d have such a strange start to 2020.
Yet here we are approaching the middle of the year, tentatively peering outside and racking our brains to remember what life looked like before the lockdown.
For many of us, we’ve spent months stuck in our homes, paying above average prices for hand sanitiser and missing activities we never thought would be taken away.
Australia has had one of the best responses to the Covid-19 outbreak in the world, which is something to be hugely grateful for.
As restrictions are gradually being lifted and schools are re-opening, it looks like life is returning to some kind of normality.
But what even is ‘normal’?
Will things suddenly change back to how they were?
Is it okay to be feeling anxious about these changes?
Let’s go through these questions, the positives and the worries, and figure out what’s going on as Australia heads along the road back to ‘normal’ life.
What is ‘normal’?
Normal is defined as “the usual, typical, or expected state or condition”, basically how life used to be before the lockdown.
The pandemic has had such a colossal effect across the whole world, which has meant change for everyone, and it’s likely that there may be some permanent changes.
We don’t know exactly what the world will look like on the other side of this, so let’s concentrate on recent changes and things we can control.
Pre-Covid-19 we could hug each other, high five, fist pump, hang out in groups, go on school trips, play sports, and go on shopping trips.
There are many of these normal things which you will be able to enjoy once again as the restrictions are lifted.
The biggest change is that most schools will be re-opening for full time study, which means goodbye distance learning and hello classroom.
Getting back into a routine will really help provide some structure to your weeks, as well as a chance to see friends again face to face.
In addition, more shops are opening up, cafés and restaurants are starting to introduce limited dine-in options and outdoor playgrounds, gym equipment and pools are starting to open back up with limitations.
Life as we knew it before the lockdown is slowly but surely returning.
Will things be ‘normal’ straight away?
These changes will occur very gradually, and whilst restrictions are being lifted, it’s important to remember that physical distancing regulations still apply.
Keeping a 1.5m distance from others whenever possible is still advised, and practicing good hygiene is still really important, and schools will be doing their best to make sure that your learning environments are squeaky clean and safe.
So what won’t be normal?
There probably won’t be large scale events for a while yet, so you’ll have to wait a little while longer to go to a football match, a concert, or a party.
It’s a good idea to keep an eye on government and state announcements, or ask your parents or guardians to find out the latest lifts of the lockdown, as the government reassess the situation every few weeks.
There’s still a long way to go to be back to ‘normal’ life, but if the regulations are adhered to, we can get there much quicker and much safer.
Now of course, you’ll be excited to see your friends and extended family again, and hopefully many of you are excited to go back to school and get back into a routine.
Maybe you were excited when you found out you didn’t have to go to school anymore, and then a little downhearted when you discovered there would be distance learning.
You may have found it difficult to concentrate working from home, or would have liked extra help or support from your peers and teachers.
Maybe school is a safe haven for you and it was something you’ve really missed, and I am sure that your teachers have missed you even more.
During the lockdown, a sense of community has been really important for so many people to feel connected and socially engaged.
Your school is just that – an encouraging community that wants the best for you.
So it’s a huge positive to be back in the classroom and readjusting to a more consistent daily routine.
Another positive is that you can now see more than just a couple of friends at a time.
After weeks of staying at home and facetiming your friends, I’m sure many of you are a bit fed up with being stuck with your family and only exercising when you’re walking the dog.
It’s really great for your mental health to have social support as you readjust back to normality and it can give you a real boost to share your experiences with your friends.
Let’s not just ignore the last few months, it has been a really valuable time in your life, so let’s keep the conversation flowing.
You could share with your friends what you’ve found difficult during the lockdown, what your worries are, what you’re thankful for, and encourage others to talk about their experiences too.
Time spent in lockdown may have made you realise how grateful you are for your friendships, so why not celebrate that by telling your friends how much they mean to you.
Whether you have liked it or not, you will have adapted your lifestyle during the lockdown and this will feel pretty normal now.
Therefore, going back to school and resuming pre-lockdown life can feel very daunting.
If you’re feeling anxious about this, please know you are not alone.
Whether you’ve enjoyed spending more time at home or struggled with the restrictions, you will have adjusted to a different way of living your daily life.
Suddenly going back to school with hundreds of others might feel like a bit of a shock.
It’s kind of like when you go to another country and experience a culture shock if things are different from what you’re used to.
It might take a while to readjust, so be kind to yourself, share how you’re feeling and just take it one day at a time.
You might still be worried about the pandemic and don’t feel ready to go back to school yet, and that’s okay.
It’s still important to be cautious with regular hand washing and minimising physical contact, but it’s also good to relax, have fun, and to see your friends.
If you’re still feeling worried, you could practice some mindfulness and try to clear your mind of thoughts which are causing you anxiety.
You are in control of your thoughts and emotions and you have the capability to deal with them rationally.
Maybe give yourself daily goals to work towards, so you have something else to focus on which is important to you.
Perhaps you could start a gratitude journal, and write down something every day which you’re grateful for, which will help you focus on the positives of the day, rather than the worries.
Don’t forget to keep up your self-care routine, look after yourself, and if you need to take a break and have some alone time, that’s completely fine.
We don’t know exactly what the future looks like, and it will be a slow and steady journey towards complete normality.
However, being grateful every day for the little things which make you smile is a great place to start to set yourself up with a positive outlook.
By taking each day as it comes and sharing your thoughts and feelings, you can conquer each day and look forward to the next.
Written by Alex Jarvis for The Big Sister Experience