Top Tips for Getting Back Out in the World
As the world starts to open up once more, with less of a tadaaaa and more like a cautious rabbit emerging from its burrow, we look at how you might be feeling about going back out into the world.
To do this we spoke to our clients, friends and each other at Inspired To Change; what we discovered is that not everyone is ready to fling their masks aside, get down the pub and hug everyone. Some people are feeling very anxious about the thought of being ‘back to normal’ – if there even is such a thing as normal!
These are our top tips, taken from some of those conversations. We hope they help you navigate the ever-changing ‘new normal’ and moving more easily back into the swing of things, on your terms.
Top Tip 1
Take it at your pace, one step at a time
The world shut down in what seemed like a day, and we’ve had a few false starts to get going again, so it’s understandable you might feel a little cautious. Whilst caution has been advised, sometimes that turns into feeling unsure about what is safe for us and our primitive mind interprets that as a full-blown threat, sending us scurrying back to our trackie-bottoms and zoom meetings only. So slow it down. Arrange to meet a friend for a sit-down coffee outside a café or, if you can negotiate with your boss, go into the office just one day a week to start with so you can get your confidence up again. When we haven’t done something for a while we can lose our confidence, but you’ll be surprised how quickly it returns.
Top Tip 2
Remind yourself what you really used to love about…
Whether it is going out to restaurants or galleries, going to the gym or going to work, write a list of what you really enjoyed or the benefits you could only get from being in those environments. Even if that’s getting the best coffee on the walk to work or being able to turn round and have an impromptu natter with your friend (rather than setting up a zoom meeting for a chat – that seems so formal!).
Many of our clients were nervous about going back to the gym, but what motivated them was thinking about the fabulous choice of equipment rather than just their resistance bands and a few weights. Once there they realised how much they had missed the buzz of being there and quickly gained back comfort and confidence.
Top Tip 3
Get your interactions up
We are a social species and even the most self-sufficient introverts among us require a degree of interaction to maintain our wellbeing. Positive interaction is one of the three Ps of positivity, that gives us not only a great flow of serotonin, which helps us cope, but often a little boost of oxytocin; the neurotransmitter most associated within building social bonds and trust. It is also so much easier to find the positives when we have more choice in our activities and interactions – when we are experiencing life again. We need to remind ourselves of the things that make us feel good.
Top Tip 4
It’s ok to start anticipating good times ahead
For many of us the challenges we faced during lockdowns were not the reality of where we were, but the fact we kept having to cancel the things we’d planned. Often these were the things that made life more enjoyable. Although we are having to still be cautious, it seems we can start booking up a few little things because the brain actually has more receptors for the pleasure of wanting things than actually getting them – sometimes looking forward to something actually feels more enjoyable than the thing itself.
And you can get maximum benefit by enjoying the antioption of the thing running up to it, completely absorbing yourself in the thing itself and then taking some time afterwards to reflect on how much you enjoyed it too…you’ll be brimming with positive neurotransmitters that act as a motivator to carry on doing the things that make you feel good.
Top Tip 5
Take the opportunity for a declutter
This might seem a little odd but, over the last year, it has been really challenging to donate or discard anything with both recycling centres and charity shops closed for much of the time. We all know how much better our mind feels when we have a clear out of the junk drawer, shred your old filing or tidy up the shoe pile at the bottom of your wardrobe. So why not do that now?
Doing something which doesn’t take a lot of mental effort but produces tangible results also has the added value of allowing our mind to use the processing power it saves on thinking about what we are doing to solve our problems; your mind is decluttering itself while we are decluttering our house.
Top Tip 6
Playfully harness your imagination
This tip is from the wonderfully fun and creative Emma Rose from Inspired To Change Spalding, and I have to include it just as it is! For context: if you know anything about solution-focused hypnotherapy you know we refer to those threats and fears, we blow out of proportion, as polar bears. Emma decided she was going to have fun with that and came up with this novel switcheroo “I took my imaginary friend the polar bear to work with me for protection. I had him in complete control and on a leash!”
Sometimes being creative with our fears helps us gain control over them. Whether that is imagining a delete button in your mind which you press every time a negative thought comes in, thinking of your primitive mind as a small toddler who needs a nap, or thinking about a volume dial for your inner critic or even thinking about your own pet polar bear. It really doesn’t matter, because what we are really doing is finding a creative way to take back control from our negative thinking.
Top Tip 7
Redefine how you want to live and work
As a lecturer at CPHT, where we all trained to become solution-focused hypnotherapists, the thing I’ve heard most from students this last year is that they had time to think about how they wanted their lives to be. Whether it was because of redundancy, furlough or just not being able to go out, particularly when combined with the impact of a global event – the result was an opportunity for reflection we rarely get.
Maybe you recognise that how it was before wasn’t ideal, that some things actually improved last year, or something happened that made you question everything, or maybe you realised just how bad things actually were without outside things to distract you. Before you go rushing back into the distractions of modern life, now could be an ideal opportunity to consider what you might like your life to be.
Perhaps you’d like to work a few days from home, so you don’t have a long commute. Maybe you want to focus more on your family time together, start a side project or maybe (now you’ve thought about it) you want to change everything!
Top Tip 8
JFDI, or in less colourful terms – rip the plaster off
Sometimes, not giving yourself time to think is in fact the best way to get something done. How many times have you made a decision then talked yourself out of it through those pros and cons conversations in your head?
There are many iterations of this idea from count to five and do it, feel the fear and do it anyway, just do it for 5 minutes, don’t hit snooze…the list could go on. No, really, I’m a hypnotherapist – I’ve read literally dozens of versions of this wonderfully simple idea. But it does really boil down to this: decide and do!
Top Tip 9
You’ve probably had so many invites and opportunities to go back out into the world already, from friends, colleagues, business opportunities and more. It can be so easy to say yes because we don’t want to miss a thing.
Even if you aren’t at all anxious about getting back into close proximity with other people and are delighted to go back to face to face everything, your body and mind have been much less stimulated over the last year. Give yourself time to get back to what you consider normal and don’t be surprised if the first few outings leave you feeling like you need a big nap. Our clients have loved seeing family and friends for the first time in many months, but many of them said that they know they packed too much in, later remembering that the world isn’t going anywhere and they don’t need to do everything in the first week.
Remember, not every tip will work for every person every time, that’s why we include lots of different ones. Pick the ones you think might be helpful for you or come up with your own!
Lastly…if you are ready to leap out the front door that’s great, but be gentle with your less than enthusiastic family, friends and colleagues; with your support and maybe these tips, they’ll get there.
About the Author: Ali Hollands is passionate about guiding you through incredibly challenging times, resolving long-standing trauma and enabling you to re-design your beliefs, habits and behaviours into ones that serve you. Ali works with clients all over the world from her online clinic.
If you’d like to find out how solution focused hypnotherapy could help you to reduce anxiety and cope with stress, why not get in touch to book your FREE initial consultation with your local Inspired to Change hypnotherapist? Inspired to Change Hypnotherapists are based across the UK in Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Devon, Essex, Kent, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Norfolk, Somerset and South Gloucestershire.
Inspired to Change Hypnotherapists are all recognised by the National Council for Hypnotherapy, the UK’s leading not-for-profit hypnotherapy professional association.
To find out how you can train as a solution focused hypnotherapist click here for our hypnotherapy school information
Or you can check out our Lifting the Lockdown Blue blog here for more information on why you might be feeling stuck at the moment.