Information for young people who are struggling with their feelings about lockdown changing, and want to know how to cope and adjust.
Lockdown has been hard for lots of people. And even though the rules are starting to change for some of us, there’s still a lot we can’t do, that we’re missing out on, and that we’re still worried about.
Lots of change and uncertainty can feel really stressful.
We’re here to help you understand your feelings about changes to lockdown, and give you some positive ways to cope.
This page covers:
"Rules aren’t clear and are constantly changing and I’m scared I won’t adjust quick enough."
When we were in full lockdown, the rules were the same for everyone, and what we each went through may have felt quite similar. We stayed at home, and we spoke to our friends online.
Now the rules for each of us might be different. For example, you may be going back to school or college when your friends or siblings aren’t. Or your parents might be going back to work while others stay at home.
The rules are less clear, and apply to everyone differently. It will be like this for a while, and that may feel hard to deal with.
We may also find that lockdown rules are tightened again in the future, and that the process of going ‘back to normal’ rises and falls like a wave. Recognising this is a good step, and will help you to cope if this happens.
"I’m a very creative person and I'm finding it hard to release this creative energy, it makes me feel a bit crazy."
You may have felt safer from the virus during full lockdown, and now feel afraid that the changes could cause a rise in infections, or that lockdown could be tightened again.
Or you may have enjoyed schools being closed and now feel worried about returning. This could be because you’ve felt less anxious during lockdown, or that lockdown made you feel safer from bullying. Maybe you’re feeling relaxed after a break from studying and are now worried about the academic pressure to catch up.
You may have also felt closer to your family, neighbours or local community during lockdown, or had better housing during this time, and don’t want this to end.
You may be feeling sad because you’re missing your friends, girlfriend, boyfriend or family, and still don’t know when you’ll be able to see them properly.
Or because you’re missing important milestones and don’t know if they’ll be rearranged. For example, 18th birthday celebrations, proms, or other ‘leaving school’ celebrations.
Maybe you’re feeling low because you’re missing out on everyday things like parties and sport, or exciting plans like travelling or work experience. Or feel sad that even when you do go back to school, college, university, or work, it’s unlikely that you’ll get to do any fun stuff anyway.
You may also feel low or lacking in purpose because you don’t know when you can go back to work, or when school will start for you.
You may be feeling worn down if you’re not getting on with your family or the people you live with, and don’t know when you can have a break from them.
Or you may have been hiding parts of your identity from them, like your sexuality or faith, and want to be yourself again.
Perhaps you’re feeling frustrated because of the pressure to keep studying at home, and to motivate yourself, when there’s no definite end in sight.
You may feel that other people have more freedom than you, if your household is shielding or you live somewhere with tighter restrictions. Or you may feel that other people aren’t following social distancing rules, especially now the rules are beginning to change.
Perhaps you’re feeling pressure from friends to meet up and feel confused about what’s allowed. Or you may be trying to meet friends while social distancing and finding there’s not much to do, or they’re not sticking to the rules.
You may be scared or upset because someone you care about has to go back to work where they feel unsafe. Or you may feel worried about going back to school or college yourself. For example, you may feel that it will be difficult to socially distance, or that other people won’t follow the rules.
You may have existing difficulties around coping with germs or hygiene, which coronavirus and social distancing is making worse.
Perhaps you’re worried about how coronavirus will affect your education, career or other parts of your future. For example, you might be worried that college or university won’t be what you hoped for, or that you’re going to miss out on things.
Or you may be feeling anxious about finding your relationships have changed during lockdown, like with your friends, girlfriend or boyfriend.
"I’m worried that my anxiety and worries about germs will get worse once I go to college."
You may be feeling annoyed because the government guidance for young people isn’t clear. Or feeling powerless, like you don’t have a say in what’s going on.
You may be feeling cheated because you’re not able to sit important exams, or feel like you’re missing out on important time with teachers.
Maybe your mental health support has had to change during lockdown. Or you’re frustrated because lockdown has caused you to take steps back in your recovery.
Or your family might be going through difficult money issues, and you may feel pressure to provide support, or fear that you’ll lose your independence.
You may have gone through something very stressful, frightening or upsetting during lockdown. For example, if you’ve had to stay somewhere that wasn’t a safe place for you.
Or you may be recovering from coronavirus or helping a family member to get better. Or someone you love may have died during this time, and you’re afraid to lose anyone else.
These are only a few examples of what you may be feeling right now. You may be experiencing several of these feelings, or be going through something completely different.
If you’re still struggling to understand how you’re feeling, you can visit our page on understanding my feelings.
"I'm going to be starting college and I haven’t been to school or really away from my house since October (because I left school due to anxiety)… it’s probably going to be very difficult."
Coping is our ability to respond to, and deal with, unpleasant, difficult or stressful situations. Our ability to cope with things can vary – we can cope well one day, and poorly the next.
Coping strategies are things we choose to do in unpleasant situations, to manage our emotions and help us get through them, or to lessen how it will affect us. There are both positive and negative coping strategies.
Positive coping strategies are healthy ways of coping that are good for our wellbeing in the long term. You can find some ideas and examples of positive coping strategies in the tips for coping and adjusting section below.
Negative coping strategies are unhealthy ways of coping that can harm our wellbeing or cause other problems. They may feel impulsive or urge-driven. We also may not realise at the time that we’re using negative strategies to escape from something.
The negative coping strategies young people have told us they’re using during the coronavirus pandemic include:
To get support from organisations who can help, go to our coronavirus useful contacts page for young people.
You may be facing lots of challenges now lockdown rules are changing, and some of the feelings you’re having may be hard to cope with.
While things remain uncertain, we can focus on what we can control and take positive steps to look after our wellbeing.
We asked young people to tell us what they’ve been doing to help themselves cope during the pandemic. You might find it useful to try some of the positive coping strategies they suggested.
Here are some ideas:
There are things you can do to help you understand and accept how you’re feeling, like:
"Take time to reflect... be honest with how you think you’re managing lockdown, what strategies have worked for you in the past and how could you adapt them."
Spending time with friends and family, whether in person or not, can help us feel better and boost our wellbeing. You could:
"Find other people your age you can talk to. It really helps because we’re going through the same thing."
When things get tough, there are quick things you can try to reduce worry and panic, like:
"Keep yourself busy, doing things you love and things that makes you proud of yourself for finishing."
Taking small steps to recognise what’s in your control right now, and what you can do to plan ahead, can help you feel more settled:
"I’ve now made my own routine to prepare for 6th form college and have become more independent. I’ve realised I’m more capable of making my own decisions without pressure from my school."
Looking after your physical wellbeing can have a big impact on your mental health, too.
There are simple things you can try to look after your physical health, like:
"Take care of your basic needs - try to eat and drink regularly, brush teeth, have a shower."
If someone you care about is going through a tough time, it’s natural to want to support them. But with everything going on, you may feel like you don’t know how to help.
Here are some tips on supporting someone from a distance:
"Reminding them you’re there if they need you and properly listening when they choose to open up, while continuing with your normal lives, is the best balance possible."
While lockdown changes, you may find you need more support, or want to connect with people who you identify with.
For a list of organisations who can help, visit our coronavirus useful contacts page.
"The important thing is remembering that you can’t control the situation, but you can control how you react to it and how you choose to think about it."
This information was last updated on 4 August 2020.