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We've got post-lockdown trust issues: Less than a quarter of us trust Boris to lead us safely back to normal life… and who can blame us?



The moment we’ve all been anticipating for the best part of a year has finally arrived: Boris Johnson has announced the roadmap out of lockdown, hopefully for good. In England, we’re expected to be heading to beer gardens by April, restaurants by May and – deep breath, people – nightclubs by mid-June, when social distancing rules will be lifted. In short: time to start planning those summer holidays and Friday night out-out looks at last. Great news, right?

Not exactly. According to a new poll, less than a quarter of people in England trust Boris to lead us safely out of lockdown. And is it any wonder, when the Government has continually changed the rules when it comes to lifting restrictions? First, promises of a relatively normal Christmas were swiftly retracted for most of us at the very last minute. Next, Chancellor Rishi Sunak reportedly expressed concerns in early February that the Government’s scientific advisors were changing the criteria for a return to normal life.

It doesn’t help that the country has lost faith in Boris himself: a recent YouGov poll revealed 54 per cent of UK adults rate him as untrustworthy. After months of on-and-off lockdowns, broken promises and steadily declining faith in our PM, it’s unsurprising that many of us are pessimistic about the roadmap. ‘I just don’t think it’s that realistic,’ says Sam, 31. ‘I don’t see how we can believe lockdown is really going to lift, permanently, after so many disappointments and false starts. I don’t want to put my faith in these dates and then be let down again.’

According to award-winning psychologist Natasha Tiwari, this is a totally normal and understandable reaction. ‘The fragile state of coronavirus management has resulted in many losing faith in the government,’ she says. ‘Our trust has been repeatedly violated. The impact on our belief system and capacity to put trust in these new announcements is profound: in short, it has become difficult to keep trust in the promises we are given.’ Feeling wary is just a form of self-protection, so if you’re cautious about marking 21st June in your diary just yet, know that you’re not alone – and that it’s completely reasonable.

Many of us are also nervous about leaving lockdown at all, whenever that might be – because of health concerns, the pressure to socialise or even the fear that freedom won’t live up to what we’re imagining. ‘My worry is that I’ve lived safely for a year with the belief that I haven’t been living my best life because of Covid,’ says Penny, 28. ‘I’m worried that I’ll be proved wrong, get no invitations and feel even lonelier than I did before. I already feel anxious that I don’t have a holiday planned.’

Even if we do stick to the roadmap and restrictions lift as planned, remember that it’s ok not to go too fast, too soon if you don’t feel like it. Even though the easing of lockdown brings longed-for opportunities to see friends, play sports, get back to the office and resume our hobbies, even much anticipated, exciting changes can be difficult for our mental health. ‘You don’t need to put pressure on yourself to return to a hyper state of ‘normal’ if you don’t naturally feel the desire,’ says Natasha. ‘Remember that this has been an extended, mentally exhausting episode; the healing will not happen overnight.’

Just as it took time for us to adjust to going into lockdown, it will take time for us to find our way back to normal. ‘I feel like I’ve just got used to lockdown and now things are set to change,’ says Marie, 24. ‘Even though I miss seeing friends and going out, I can’t face the idea of overhauling my life again.’

Leading UK charity The Mental Health Foundation recommends that we keep up with any positive coping mechanisms we’ve developed during the pandemic, even after lockdown has lifted. ‘Staying connected, eating well and taking exercise apply just as much now as they did at the start of lockdown,’ they advise. ‘Arguably even more so, as we remain in a period of high stress but with more demands on us.’

Above all, ‘remember to remain compassionate to your needs and move at a pace that feels right to you,’ says Natasha. ‘Listen to your intuition and don’t buy into pressure to do anything you don’t want to do.’ In short, take things one day at a time from now until June. And when the 21st comes, if you don’t fancy getting dressed up and heading straight to Infernos, that’s more than ok.

Natasha Tiwari will be hosting a free masterclass on healing and clearing stress, sadness and anxiety on Saturday 13th March at 4pm: www.natashatiwari.co.uk/elevation



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