When will things get back to normal?

The general feeling is that life may not return to 'normal' until 2021. Pandemics are health emergencies in which human life is threatened and there are significant numbers of sick and dead. Local resources are generally overburdened, and the community’s safety and normal functioning are threatened. People may no longer feel safe. Pandemics are also real human tragedies, and thus the grief and psychological consequences are very real. These feelings don’t just go away.
The coronavirus pandemic does not end when you can leave your house or when scientists develop a vaccine or when you return to work and your children to school. It ends when we have recovered.
Disaster survivors call recovery 'the second disaster.' The process of rebuilding your life after a crisis is hard. Remember you are not alone, lots of people will be feeling the same way and it's ok to say you are not ok. Some of the following guidance may be useful to you:

I feel guilty that I was unable to work front line during coronavirus 

As a carer you may have not been able to work frontline during the pandemic. For some people that is causing feelings of guilt. Clinicians may be feeling guilty about not being at work due to long-term illness, caring responsibilities or being on maternity leave, or being a vulnerable member of society themselves, feeling like they are not ‘playing their part’. Whatever your reason for not being on the frontline during the crisis remember you did make a difference, no less important and just as vital, just in a different way. By looking after your children at home, you reduced the spread or by caring for a loved one you kept a hospital bed free. It is important. 

Returning to work

As lockdown measures start to lift, you may be expected to go back to work. The government has produced this really useful advice on getting back to work safely. If you're worried about returning to work because you think it's not safe, or you believe your employer is not protecting your health and safety by following government guidelines, then please see this useful guide from Working Families.org

Dealing with feelings of guilt

Many people may be experiencing feelings of guilt due to COVID-19, either because they lost their job, or can't visit their elderly parents, or are struggling to be there emotionally for their loved ones. It may be parents feel guilty for shouting at their kids, letting them watch too much TV, or failing at  home-schooling  them "properly.“ Perhaps you have employee guilt because you aren't as productive as usual and not adding value.
These feelings of guilt are normal, but it is important that we deal with them to prevent them becoming an issue. It's important to acknowledge these feelings, but not dwell on them. These five tips will help you deal with guilt in a healthy way.

  • Apologise when you need to. Is your guilt warranted? If you've shouted at your children or been mean to your partner, this guilt might mean you owe someone an apology. But if your guilt isn't warranted, it's important to recognise that as well.
  • Accept it. Guilt is a normal emotion. Notice and acknowledge it, label it as guilt, and accept that you're experiencing it.
Survivor's Guilt

Survivor’s guilt is when a person has feelings of guilt because they survived a life-threatening situation when others did not leading to feelings of guilt. It is a common reaction to traumatic events and a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When people survive a traumatic event, they may experience feelings of guilt about:

  • surviving when others did not
  • what they did during the traumatic event
  • what they did not do during the traumatic event

Survivor’s guilt may cause a person to see the world as an unfair and unsafe place. These beliefs can include exaggerated or distorted ideas about:

  • their ability to predict or prevent an outcome
  • their role in causing negative outcomes
  • wrongdoing on their part

Many people with survivor’s guilt recover without treatment within the first year following the event. However, at least one-third of people will continue to have symptoms for three years or longer.  If a person feels as though they cannot cope on their own, or if symptoms are severe or ongoing, then it is important to seek professional treatment though your GP.

Five tips for coping with survivor's guilt:

  1. Accept and allow the feelings. Even though survivor’s guilt is not always rational, it is a recognised response to trauma. It is normal. Accept and allow the feelings that surface. Take time to process the guilt, grief, fear, and loss that accompany a traumatic event and the loss of life.
  2. Connect with others. Share feelings with family and friends. Or, look for a relevant support group. Your local carer organisation may be able to help.
  3. Use mindfulness techniques. Mindfulness, relaxation and breathing exercises can be beneficial. Try grounding techniques, which may include focusing on the breath, feeling nearby fabrics, and noticing sounds both inside and outside the room.
  4. Practice self-care. Covid-19 is frightening and overwhelming. Survivors can benefit from doing activities that make them feel good feel, such as; taking baths, reading, meditating, art, music and aromatherapy.
  5. Stay healthy. It is also important for a person to get enough sleep and eat a healthy and balanced diet, it can be helpful to avoid drugs and alcohol. 
It’s ok to feel happiness right now

During this time many people are experiencing and dealing with negative emotions. However some people are also feeling guilty because they aren’t. Even with growing numbers of sick people and death tallies skyrocketing, a portion of our society is actually feeling okay during this pandemic. They are finding happiness in things like not having to commute, going for peaceful walks after work, and spending more time with his family, you may feel like you and your family are safe, and you’re not worried about getting sick. 
If you are feeling positive feelings and emotions right now don’t feel guilty. You are not happy at the horror of this pandemic or that people are dying and suffering, you have just managed to find happiness in your own situation and that’s ok. 
Our emotions are endlessly complex. There is no right way to feel about this, because whatever you’re feeling right now is valid and it’s okay to feel some moments of happiness right now.
It doesn’t make you a monster and certainly you shouldn’t feel guilty. Actually, it can be really helpful. We all have to figure out how to get through this in a way that’s emotionally sustainable over the long run. Finding moments of joy where you can might help you endure this pandemic.