– Noah Lipschitz, Planner
It has been just over a year since I started at Open. I have been thrown in the deep end, inducted into a new team with new processes and personalities, and learned all about the not-for-profit sector/agency-life and their respective quirks.
These were all things I expected and looked forward to – what I did not expect, however, was that I would be undertaking this all from my home.
The past year has emotionally pushed many in ways that they did not foresee. While locked down, homes have become the locale for working, educating, exercising and more. Romantic relationships and friendships have gone under the microscope, and longing for better days has become a daily ritual.
Fundraisers have faced the added stress of finding new ways to raise income. All whilst under the pressure of knowing that the need for charity services has increased. This is a lot to deal with, and I am yet to mention the worries people have had – and continue to have – about health, financial security and the world at large.
As a Planner, I spend a lot of my time advising clients on what people are thinking and feeling. And this year, whilst dealing with the pandemic myself, I have produced reports on how COVID-19 is impacting our sector and the wider world.
So what’s the situation now?
In the UK at least, COVID-19 vaccination rates are high and deaths are low; lockdown is easing and the days are getting longer. People and the media are beginning to talk about a ‘roaring 20s’, ‘hot girl/boy summer’ and spending sprees. Personally, I am imagining scenes reminiscent of the euphoria of Kieran Trippier scoring the freekick against Croatia in the semifinals of the 2018 World Cup. In reality I, and I am sure many will agree, will settle for being able to hug friends and family, to go eat inside a restaurant, and go into the office for the first time and finally meet my colleagues.
However, even if the reality of post-lockdown life is more understated than what the media reports, it will be a pretty stark juxtaposition to the life many have led for the past year. Are we all able to mentally flick a switch and go from a state of pandemic and lockdown-induced anxiety to a care-free and active summer of fun? I’m not so sure, but I want to stress that that is okay.
I am certain that for many people, the prospect of going back out into the world is a daunting one. Personally, there are things that I am really looking forward to, and things I am not; for example, catching up with people I haven’t spoken to in a long time and having the mental battle of ‘do I put on my performative best-self, or do I be more open and honest that this has been a hard year?’.
Everyone is different, and I am hesitant to paint everyone with the same brush. But I think there is one thing we can all take away from this. During the pandemic, we were told to go easy on ourselves, to give ourselves a break; it has been a hard year and you should feel proud of yourself to come through the other side. When lockdown eases and eventually ends, I believe that it is important for our own mental wellbeing to keep this mindset going. Old stresses may reappear, and new anxieties will be on the horizon. So remind yourself that you do deserve to give yourself a break, and you are doing a great job.
And hopefully, we can extend this feeling and support to those around us as well.
PS: Here is a link to our friends at Mind’s tips for your mental wellbeing during COVID-19, including on how to manage feelings about lockdown easing.
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