Why lockdown 2.0 feels harder than the first lockdown

At the beginning of November, we went back into lockdown.

Ok, we thought. We know how to do this. This time around we are on it with social distancing, we know about masks and hand sanitiser and queuing for the supermarket.

And this time it’s shorter. Surely four weeks will feel like a breeze compared to the months of lockdown we have already endured?

But for many of us, lockdown part two has felt more difficult, and we can’t quite put our fingers on why.

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‘I really thought this second lockdown would fly by,’ says Lucy, a 34-year-old advertising executive from London.

‘I live alone, and last time I struggled for a few weeks, but then I fell into a nice pattern. I was doing my daily exercise, going on long bike rides, I was in a bubble with my sister and my niece. But these last two weeks have felt so much harder.

‘I’m struggling to accept the step backwards. I felt like I was just getting my life back towards the end of the summer.

‘Back at the gym, going to restaurants with my friends, I even went to the cinema!

‘Going back to spending 80% of my life in my small flat has been so tough for me mentally. I am struggling to get out of bed, I spend my whole day in my pyjamas, I go days without doing any exercise.’

Sadly, Lucy isn’t alone. Thousands of people in the UK have reported that they are struggling since the start of the second lockdown.

New research found that up to 70% feel isolated in the second lockdown, with 27% reporting ‘lockdown loneliness’. People meeting clinical criteria for depression were almost twice as likely to be lonely.

Research conducted by Revvies during this second lockdown has also found that 37% of Brits say that working from home has made them the most lethargic and tired they have ever been.

The lethargy of lockdown 2.0 is real. The weather could be to blame.

In the first lockdown, the long, light days and warmer weathers, meant we had more freedom when it came to socialising or exercising outdoors. We could while away sunny Sundays drinking a beer in the park, or decide to go for a long run after work.

Since the clocks went back and the temperatures plummeted, our options have been limited. In this second lockdown, we have to contend with the cold and the dark, forcing us all to stay inside for a larger proportion of our day.

It isn’t surprising that this sense of confinement and increased isolation is making the time drag.

‘I can’t quite believe we still have two more weeks,’ says Jake, a construction manager from Manchester.

‘It feels like time has literally ground to a halt. This time around I have lost all motivation to interact socially, and I know it is having an impact on my mental health.

‘The first time I was buzzing about organising Zoom quizzes, and doing virtual movie nights and chatting to people on the phone. This time, I just don’t want to. It feels like too much effort.

‘I feel like just hiding out until I can see people properly again. I know that isn’t healthy – but I just can’t find the same enthusiasm for virtual socialising. I’m so sick of looking at my phone.’

It could be that the accumulative impact of a second lockdown is also making this month feel worse than the first time around.

The weariness of being eight-months down the line might be making this second lockdown feel exponentially harder than last time. Maybe we are all much closer to our limits than we were in the spring.

‘One of the big factors at play here is the need for people to interact socially with their work colleagues,’ says Stuart Kearn, founder and CEO at Clear Review.

‘Whilst we can get work delivered remotely and even collaborate effectively on projects using tech, we have an innate need for social relationships with our colleagues that go beyond transactional work conversations, and that is extremely hard to replicate virtually.

‘So, the longer that people work remotely, the more this lack of genuine connection has an impact on motivation and emotional well-being. It’s something we’ve seen become an increasing trend in our employee engagement surveys we have run.’

On an individual and social level, it’s important to reestablish your routines and pay attention to your self-care.

You’ll probably remember that at the beginning of the first lockdown, it took a while to find a routine that worked for you.

But, whether it was making sure you had a shower every morning, sticking to an online fitness plan, or scheduling zoom calls with friends, creating a schedule to stick to was a big help.

It’s important to find that again in this second lockdown. We might be half-way through, but that doesn’t mean it is too late to establish a self-care routine. And, as we will likely be facing restrictions of some sort even in to the new year, it makes sense to create long-term systems that will help you to cope.

How to avoid mental burnout in lockdown 2.0

Stuart Kearn shares his top tips for avoiding burnout during the second lockdown – which is particularly important when it comes to working from home:

Set a schedule and stick to it

If you are prone to logging on to to check emails in the evening, stop.

This will make it harder for you to disconnect from work and relax in downtime. Set your working hours and be strict in keeping to them. No weekend work!     

Take regular breaks

Increased time at home means more screen time for many as we work from home during the day and watch a series on Netflix during the evening.

Increased screen time has been linked to anxiety so make sure you take breaks. Take five minutes in the garden or go for a walk on your lunchbreak.

In an evening, consider reading a book or playing a board game with family.  

Don’t lose out on human interaction

Checking in with colleagues, family or friends via a quick video can boost our mood and significantly improve our mental health.     

Take a day off here and there

Many feel they don’t want to waste annual leave if they can’t go on holiday, but taking a day off can really help you disconnect if you are feeling overwhelmed.·      

Practice self-care – both physically and mentally

Fitting in workouts can be a great way to improve both body and mind.

After the first lockdown, many of us had a tantalising taste of freedom.

Even if restrictions weren’t ever completely lifted where you live, we could still go to non-essential shops, eat in restaurants, some had the opportunity to mix households and see loved ones.

To have these restrictions reinstated after having a short glimpse of normality can feel even harder. It was a reminder of what we are missing.

But remember, there is positive news to focus on. This month we have had the incredible news of a vaccine which could mean the end of this pandemic might not be too far away.

In the meantime, look after yourself, reestablish your own healthy coping menchanisms, and speak to family, friends or your GP if you are really struggling.

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