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Feeling behind: Life after Covid

Reading time: 4-6 minutes

The pandemic put many of our lives on hold. What we thought would be a few weeks in quarantine turned into months, then the months turned into a year. As we emerge from a third lockdown here in the UK, there’s a general feeling that the worst of the storm is over and we can begin to rebuild some form of normality in our lives… yet coronavirus has left a lot of us feeling stranded.

If you feel like you’ve lost a year of your life to Covid-19 or are in the same place as you were at the beginning of the first lockdown, you’re not alone! The pandemic made it difficult for most of us to pursue any plans that we had in 2020 and it likely interfered with your personal life, education or career - or a combination of all of these. Unfortunately, these areas of your life are possibly still surrounded with an air of uncertainty.

Left behind?

As much as we’d like to, we can’t wave a magic wand and give you all of the experiences that Covid-19 might have taken away. However, we do hope that this article can at least reassure you that many of us are left feeling like we need to ‘catch up’ in some way – and that’s ok.

You might be feeling left behind in a few aspects of your life.

  • Education, e.g. feeling like online school or uni was less substantial than in-person learning, worrying that future career prospects will be affected, having qualifications or exams impacted
  • Career, e.g. not being able to get the promotion you were promised, being made redundant, not being able to develop your skills
  • Relationships, e.g. not being able to see family members, inability to go on dates or start new relationships
  • Social life, e.g. not being able to see friends, losing out on your ‘younger years’
  • Productivity, e.g. feeling like you spent the last year doing nothing, comparing yourself to others and what they’ve achieved
  • Life in general, e.g. not being able to go on holiday, travel to new places, try new things

Being ‘behind’ in these areas can make anyone feel:

  • Overwhelmed
  • Anxious to ‘get back on track’
  • Stuck in the past or future
  • Frustrated or hopeless
  • Inadequate, especially when comparing yourself to others
  • Impatient to start living again or make up for what you didn’t do last year

What might help?

It can be really difficult feeling like everything has gotten away from you. If you can, remember that coronavirus was something that no-one could predict or control, yourself included. You had to adapt to a very strange situation - it’s not surprising that the past year looked drastically different to anything you’ve ever known before! Some of the tips below might help you come to terms with where things are at right now:

Acceptance. Try not to dwell on what could have been or where you might have ended up if the pandemic never happened… because it did happen, and that's not something we can change. You can only focus on what’s happening now and begin to look forward to things in the future.

Take a step back. Rather than feeling as though you are behind, it might be helpful to look at the bigger picture. Everyone has been affected in some capacity. Of course, this doesn’t make your feelings invalid at all, it just means that we’ve all had a different or slower year than we might have hoped. You might find that a lot of the people around you are in the same position - if most of us are playing catch-up, are we really behind at all?

Talk to people. This ties in with the point above - tell people about how you’re feeling! It’s almost certain that they’re experiencing something similar and this might help you to take some of the pressure off yourself.

Write down everything you’ve achieved throughout the pandemic. You might feel like you’ve spent the last year or so doing nothing, but this probably isn’t true. Try writing down whatever you’ve accomplished during this time, however small. And yes – getting through the last year is definitely one of them!

Make a list of the things you want to do, or what you think you need to 'catch up' on. You might feel overwhelmed thinking about all of the things you’d like to do once the rules and regulations have been lifted, including making progress in areas where you’re feeling ‘behind’. If these thoughts are swarming through your head, it might help to write them down. Getting them down on paper can give your mind space to breathe and allow you to organise your thoughts.

Where to go for more support 

If you’re feeling stressed and anxious about life after Covid, you might want to find some additional support and resources:

  • Mind has a lot of resources for anyone who is struggling because of the pandemic.
  • YoungMinds has a page on coronavirus and the impact it might be having on your mental health. Their free messenger service is available 24/7 if you’d like to chat to someone about how you’re feeling via text.
  • The Mental Health Foundation has a page about change, loss and bereavement, which most of us are experiencing to some extent. It includes some useful tips for coping with difficult feelings and adjusting to the change that Covid-19 has caused.
  • Check out our page on growing your career opportunities. There are several organisations and charities that are offering support and opportunities for young people, including funding. You might find this useful if you’re feeling a bit lost after coronavirus.

Seek support from 42nd Street If Covid-19 has affected you in any way, you may want to talk to someone. We provide a number of face-to-face services, all of which offer something slightly different depending on what you want to get out of the support. You can chat with one of our workers online via text - just register for ongoing online support via our online support portal. We also hold weekly drop-in sessions so that you can speak to a worker without an appointment. Overall, every service provides you with someone who will listen, acknowledge your feelings, and work with you to develop ways to manage your emotions. You can read about our services here.

By: Ruby Guyler 

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