Tips on how to deal with re-entering society

8 July 2020

Living through lockdown has been challenging to say the least, but for many it has provided a sense of security and comfort in a time of unprecedented change and uncertainty. But as we begin to move towards a more relaxed state, many of us will again experience a new sense of anxiety, as we begin to find our way back into society. This is known as reverse culture shock.

Although the thought of re-entering society can be daunting at first, remember this: you are not alone. If you need a little bit of help, there are plenty of support systems out there to assist you.  Don’t know how to get started? We spoke to our Circle of Support counsellor for some advice on how to prepare yourself for life post-lockdown.

Be kind to yourself:

It’s likely being out in the world again will cause a lot of emotions to come up. This is normal. Rather than judging these feelings or being concerned they’re coming up, try to look at them as a curious observer. Wonder what you’re feeling, try to identify any physical sensations coming up and be curious about where your feelings might come from. It will be important to show yourself kindness and try to accept any feelings which arise.

Establish a routine:

While isolation has caused many of us to abandon our usual everyday routines, it might be helpful to reconsider creating a new routine that encourages structure and consistency throughout your day. For some people, particularly for those who have lost jobs, or an overall sense of motivation, routines provide a great way to reengage you with things that are familiar and spark a sense of comfort. Some things worth considering include waking up at a regular time, designating time to exercise, and taking time out of your day to practice daily self-care. After following the routine for a while, consider re-introducing new social activities that encourage you to get out and embrace new (or old) environments.

For women, especially those in care taking roles, routines are helpful for maintaining order and balance. Children respond well to routine as it offers them structure they can follow. Likewise, for busy parents, routines also help to determine what to expect next, reducing the risk of uncertainty and therefore anxiety.

Be present and take it one day at a time:

While the thought of re-entering society might seem overwhelming, it might comfort you to know that you’re not expected to have it all together overnight. These things take time, and it’s important to give your body and mind a few days or even weeks to adjust. This may require you to be more mindful of your day and to practice being present of your surroundings. While it can be difficult, try not to think too far in the future, as uncertainty creates more anxiety. Why not take up journaling or meditating? Both activities use great grounding techniques that allow you to reflect on your emotions and mental headspace.

Reach out and communicate your concern with others:

Feeling a little scared? Chances are your friends and family might be feeling the same way. To help with this, confide in a friend or family member about your feelings. Speaking openly about your mental health not only helps to release stress but also presents you with opportunities to voice your concerns with others who can offer empathy and understanding.

Other helpful resources include online mental health support and tele support lines. These services specialise in all types of mental health issues and operate to assist individuals voice their concerns and provide professional advice on ways to help. A few resources include:

Reconnect with people:

One major concern many people have upon re-entering society is the fear of dealing with awkward social situations or facing social anxiety. While there is no easy way to confront this issue, consider reintroducing small social interactions to your life little by little. Maybe you can start by reconnecting with your closest family members and friends. From here, you can then gradually start expanding your social circle.

Reconnecting with friends and loved ones is especially important for older women living alone, as it helps re-engage them in social activities that promote healthy relationships and a positive mood. Just remember to be COVID-safe!

Create small daily goals:

Consider creating small daily or weekly goals for yourself that encourage you to go out in the community and interact with others. Why not take a drive to a neighbouring suburb? Go out for dinner, or take your dog to a local dog park? When done frequently enough, these small tasks can help to increase your confidence and help you feel comfortable again to go out in the community.

Where possible, try to avoid large crowds. This will not only reduce your risk of infection, but also help to reduce any sense of anxiety.

Maintain proper hygiene:

If there is anything we have learned since this time of coronavirus, it’s the importance of proper hygiene to keep ourselves protected from illness and viruses. Although restrictions are slowly beginning to ease, it’s important to continue these healthy habits post-lockdown, as they can help you feel a better sense of security and comfort. We’re not completely out of the woodworks yet, so let continue to do our best to eliminate this virus for good!

Understand the information to minimise the risk:

Although there is no exact date of knowing when a vaccine will be developed, it’s important to continue staying informed and updated about the latest news surrounding the virus. Be selective about where you get your information from and only follow reliable sources that state the facts. Staying up to date will help you make better informed decisions and prepare you for change when needed. A few reliable resources that we often turn to include:

Don’t be afraid to ask help:

Finally, if you are still having difficulty adjusting or need physical assistance, seek professional help. There is nothing wrong with asking for help, especially in times of crisis and change. Make an appointment with a local counsellor, psychologist, or support service and they’ll provide you with right advice to assist you in overcoming your problems.

At YWCA Canberra, our Circles of Support program is a counselling service providing individual therapeutic support for families with children and young people aged five to 15 years. This service aims to strengthen family relationships and improve wellbeing. To refer a parent, child or young person to our service, please call Circles of Support on 02 6185 2000 or email us at

For those at risk of homelessness or domestic and family violence, our housing support unit provides a range of services for long-term and short-term accommodation. We specialise in providing homes for older women and families at risk of homelessness or domestic violence. To contact our housing support services please call 02 6185 2000 or email us at

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