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COPING WITH LIFE AFTER LOCKDOWN – Dr Natalie Shavit, Clinical Psychologist

Finally, after four months in lockdown, most restrictions have been lifted and we are able to venture out.

For many of us, this is what we have been waiting for, and so it can be confronting to realise that a return to “COVID normal” isn’t always quite the relief that we have been anticipating.

There were in fact many benefits associated with being in the cocoon (traffic, anyone?), particularly for those with symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression. The restrictions were permission not to have to leave our comfort zone and deal with the stresses and strains of everyday life.

In order to not feel overwhelmed with this return to fuller schedules and for some a return to life and work outside home, there are some strategies you can use to help manage life after lockdown. Perhaps unsurprisingly, these aren’t actually so different to those recommended over the past several months.

1. Be in charge of your time

This means maintaining a sense of agency and control over your time wherever possible. Whether it is not overscheduling, not overcommitting to social situations, it is still critical to ensure a work/life balance which includes time for self-care, relaxing and pleasurable activities.

2. Give yourself permission to ease back in and and/or to opt out

A period of not being social with more than one person outside the home has led to some of us not having our usual social stamina, leaving social skills a bit rusty. Give yourself the latitude to ease back into being among friends and meeting new people so as not to be overwhelmed, which includes not feeling pressured to say ‘yes’ to every opportunity.

3. Stay active

As during lockdown, exercising, or being active regularly, is a great way to focus on our physical and psychological selves, so incorporating this into our regimens is always critical.

4. Use your supports

Talk with the people around you who are supports, such as understanding family members and friends Not only might they empathise, they may also feel comfort in having their own experiences and feelings validated.

5. Avoid bad habits

Not relying on alcohol or other drugs is essential, especially not to try and compensate for any feelings of awkwardness about being back in the world or back in the pub, because these add rather than take away problems in the long term and don’t allow for social muscles to be built back up or be acquired in the first place.

6. Be kind to yourself

This does not change regardless of the restrictions’ status. Self-compassion is always vital, trying not to be too hard on ourselves given the current freedoms, cutting ourselves a break if we’re not meeting our usual standards or expectations. It takes time to adjust to change and you may not be in the same space you were when the lockdown started. We all change over time and it is ok to recognise that maybe you were impacted by the stress of recent times.

If you’re trying to put all these strategies into place and still feel impacted by feelings of stress, anxiety and depression, help is available. This means talking with mental health professionals such as psychologists, who can help get you back on track.

This has been a stressful time regardless of how much or how little the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted us. It has brought a great deal of change. But change does not have to be bad. As it has been said, out of crisis comes opportunity. Make the changes count!

Congratulations on 1 million consults

We celebrated our 1,000,000th consultation.
Thank you for your support and for being a part of this wonderful journey.
We look forward to further improving the health and well-being of all our patients and community with the next 1 million patient care consults!
Dr Ryan Vo & Dr Jonathan Phan

Pack yourself a filling lunch fast

With the hustle and bustle of work building up over the week, we feel like there’s less and less time to prepare lunch for work. It comes as no surprise when we grab something convenient from the nearest food outlet.

The downside? These options can come served in large portions with excess added salt, sugar and unhealthy fats instead of the nutrients we need to stay energised and full for the rest of the day. Buying lunch also takes time to line-up, order and wait for our food to be made. This leaves less of our lunch break to sit, chew and enjoy our food, a key experience that starts the process of proper digestion and lets our brain know we are full.

To solve this dilemma, use this four-step guide to pack a filling, healthy and delicious lunch, fast.


Take advantage of pre-packed salads or microwavable vegetable bags and fill half of your lunch with a good hit of fibre that adds “bulk”. The stretching of our stomachs from fibre signals to our brain we are full, making our meal much more satiating. Certain fibres, like those in asparagus and beetroot, also feed our good gut bacteria. When well-fed, they release appetite-regulating chemicals that can stave-off hunger-pangs and unnecessary snacking too soon after our lunch.


Next, include a serve of lean protein. This is essential for longer lasting satiety as protein increases the production of hormones which signal long-term fullness to our brain. Aim for a palm-size and look for quick options like canned tuna or salmon, boiled eggs and ready-to-eat lean roasted chicken or falafels. 


Round out your meal with carbohydrates that have a low Glycaemic Index (GI). This means it is broken down into glucose slowly, providing our brain a sustained stream of fuel to power through the 3pm slump. Make use of high-fibre wholegrain breads and wraps, microwave grain cups and even canned legumes.


Finish with a dash of healthy fat for flavour (i.e. fun). Ensuring your packed lunch is tasty gives it a fighting chance against highly-palatable takeaway options. Healthy fats are also needed to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, like those found in tomato, capsicum and leafy greens. Sprinkle a handful of nuts for crunch, spread a creamy hummus in your wrap or whisk extra virgin olive oil-based with balsamic vinegar to perfectly coat salad vegetables.

Next time you plan to head to the food court, try these four steps and see how you feel. You might just find the staff kitchen cookies aren’t calling your name come mid-afternoon.