health

Fallen in a heap this week? You can blame it on the rubber band theory.

If you look back to being in high school, think about the times when you might’ve gotten sick.

Usually, it wasn’t in the middle of term or when you were very busy studying, playing sport and keeping up with a packed social calendar.

But the minute the school holidays came around and gave you permission to let go of all the pressure, your body would just give up. It was almost like clockwork. That only when you allowed yourself to stop, your body would finally release that tension you’d been holding onto, just as the fun was about to start.

This is the very thing many of us are experiencing this week as coronavirus restrictions around the country begin to ease.

WATCH: Here’s what the different horoscopes are doing for self-care in isolation. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia

With the prospect of ‘normality’ returning sooner than expected – kids going back to school, cafes and bars reopening (if only 10 people at a time) and socially-distanced visits to loved ones allowed, finally – as a society, we can breathe again.

Except did anyone else realise they’ve actually been holding their breath this whole time? And as it turns out, holding your breath for months is physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting.

So, if you’re finding this week particularly hard, you’re not alone.

Some of us have fallen into a bit of a heap or are out of breath, even though now is the beginning of what we’ve been waiting for since early March. Others are finding their energy and motivation levels lower now than they were in peak isolation.

It’s got everything to do with something we’re calling the rubber band theory.

Imagine you’re a rubber band. No matter how flexible you are or how many times you’ve snapped, all of us have been stretched to our limits adjusting (or not adjusting) to how COVID-19 has completely changed every aspect of our lives. And now we don’t have to stretch ourselves so much, we’re snapping back, hard and fast.

LISTEN: We discuss why not everyone is keen to rush back to ‘normal’ on The Quicky podcast below. Post continues after audio.

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Amanda Gordon, Armchair Psychology Clinical Director and Endorsed Clinical and Health Psychologist, has been working in mental health for more than 30 years. In her experience, “people are going to be even more irritable” in this in-between phase of coronavirus restrictions than they were in the initial lockdown period.

“People are feeling quite fatigued now because we’ve been operating in a heightened state running on a lot of adrenaline. Collectively, we’ve been holding our breath and we haven’t been living, in a way,” Gordon told Mamamia.

“A lot of people never really adjusted to the way things were and they’ve been waiting for life to go 100 per cent back to normal. But COVID life will extend for months, or even years, until there’s a vaccine. Normal is changing, and people are finding it very difficult to adapt.”

If you’re someone who doesn’t know what to think or feel about the various restrictions being lifted, and is now feeling more disillusioned by it all than before, Gordon’s advice is simple: start breathing again.

“It’s time to breathe out and live life within our new parameters, which will actually be less exhausting,” she said.

“Allow yourself to adjust to a new way of being, rather than waiting until things are the way they were, because if you do, you’ll be waiting a long time. Live in the moment and find the joy in what you’re doing right now instead.”

What does that mean? Sorry to be cliched, but it’s about trying to look at your life and what you can do today through a positive lens.

Even though you’re not able to throw a party for your birthday or travel overseas, you can finally go and visit a vulnerable loved one or pop over to a friend’s house for dinner. Make the most of what you can do within the restrictions, because waiting for life to go ‘back to normal’ is really tiring.

As Gordon said, “Be aware of what you can do right now, and be grateful for that. Take advantage and allow those modifications to become the new way of doing things.”

“We can’t just skip ahead straight to 2021. This is life right now, and you can’t hold your breath through life.”

If you think you may be struggling with your mental health, please contact your general practitioner. If you’re based in Australia, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 for support or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636. For more on Amanda Gordon, visit the Armchair Psychology website.

How have you been feeling in isolation? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below.

Feature image: Getty.

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