Tips for returning to normal life after COVID
After dodging COVID like an ex’s texts and having countless close calls, you finally contracted the virus. You’re now on your way to recovering but are still feeling a bit lacklustre. Maybe you’re anxious about long COVID, or you’re keen after iso to get your energy back and make up for lost time. We’ve put together our top tips for when you’ve recovered from COVID, to ensure you let your body and mind heal properly.
1. Focus on the present
It’s easy to get caught up in worrying about the past and the future. You might be frustrated that you missed out on an important sports game or worried about how long it’ll take for you to feel normal again. It sucks, but some things are out of our control, including how long it takes to be back at 100 per cent or whether you’ll get long COVID.
Try to focus on the present and take each moment as it comes. Notice and enjoy the small things, like a sunny day, a good book or game, or a delicious meal. (Isn’t it great to be able to taste food again!)
If you find that focusing on the present is something that works for you, check out some ways you can practise mindfulness here.
2. Listen to your body and rest when you need to
Fatigue after COVID is pretty common. You might be keen to get back on track with your regular life, but your body is recovering from a serious illness and it might take a bit longer than you expect.
Try to be kind to yourself if you can’t find the energy or motivation to do the things you want to do. You might need more sleep and rest than normal, since your body is still recovering. Looking after yourself while you heal will help you to find your groove again.
What one person can do straight after COVID may be really difficult for another person. Pay attention to how your body feels so that you can recover in the way that you need.
If you find yourself fading throughout the day, this could be your body’s way of asking for more rest. You could schedule naps into your day, or do things more slowly or do less-demanding things.
3. Pace yourself!
It can be frustrating if you’re not yet able to do more intense things, like playing sports, having in-depth discussions with friends and family, or solving complex problems. It might be tempting to try and jump straight back into your normal life and routine. If you’re not physically ready, though, this can often lead to frustration or even to physical injury.
Try to pace yourself, find a routine that works for you now and build from there. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to figure this out:
What do I want to work on (e.g. walking, reading or playing sport)?
How much can I do at the moment, before I get tired?
When, where and how often will I be doing this activity?
How will I grow my activity level over time (e.g. by 10 per cent each week)?
How will I keep track of my activity and of how I’m improving? Remember that a small amount of activity is better than doing too much and having to go back to square one!
4. Try some ‘low-effort’ fun things
Sometimes, the hobbies and activities that we enjoy and feel fulfilled by can be too demanding when we’re recovering from an illness. Try to do some of the things you enjoy that take less effort. This could include watching your favourite TV shows and movies, playing with a pet, playing a video game or cooking a simple meal. Just because you’ve been sick, it doesn’t mean you can’t still do the things you like doing!
5. Get support if you need it
It can feel isolating watching everyone live their lives while you’re stuck at home recovering. So many people have had COVID, it’s likely that a few of them have been through an experience similar to yours. If you feel like you need some extra support, reaching out to someone that you trust for a chat can help to improve your mood. You could talk to a friend, family member, community Elder, teacher, sports coach, co-worker or counsellor. Learn about why talking helps here.
If you’d rather talk to someone anonymously, you could try and talk to a peer worker. ReachOut PeerChat connects you with a peer worker who can listen to you and provide support. Our peer workers have had experience with tough times as young people and use this experience to support others. All peer workers have undergone ReachOut training and have expertise in facilitating safe, respectful, non-judgemental conversations.