How to overcome lockdown regret

By Shelley Bosworth,
updated on Jul 9, 2020

How to overcome lockdown regret

Do you feel a sense of regret for the things you didn’t get round to doing in lockdown? Here, we work through how to challenge those feelings and move forward without guilt

As lockdown is slowly but surely beginning to ease, we're working towards our new now. For some, these small changes bring a sense of elation, celebration, and relief – but for others, they are met with feelings of regret.

When lockdown started, our daily lives drastically changed overnight and we all initially went through a stage of shock. As the shock subsided, many people decided to make plans to use the lockdown time to be productive and tick things off their to-do lists.

If you think back to the beginning of lockdown, were you one of those people? Did you vow to do something new, learn a new skill, or start a new regime that was going to make a difference?

So now – as we begin to fill our time again with social engagements, returning to work, and starting to get back to life as we previously knew it – have you found yourself realising you didn’t get round to some, or maybe even all, of those things. Has this left you filled with regret?

Regret hurts because we use it to beat ourselves up. If you stay in the place of guilt, it keeps hurting and you don’t move forward.

So, what can you do to overcome that feeling of lockdown regret and move on?

Acknowledge and accept the regret

Allow yourself to be honest about feeling regret and don’t just brush it away. Whatever you feel guilty for not doing, it was something that you let onto your radar and that you decided you wanted to give space to, so it deserves space now, too.

They say the first step is admitting the problem – admit that you feel regret. It may even help to acknowledge it and talk it out. If you allow it to, regret can become all-consuming and you can end up stuck in this cycle.

It’s not too late to do something

Just because you didn’t achieve all those lockdown plans, doesn’t mean it’s game over! Take some time to think about which of your plans, if any, you feel genuine negative emotion at having not achieved.

Where’s the regret really coming from? Is it that your life will be impacted by not having done some of these things? Are you annoyed that you didn’t use the time for that new hobby or interest you fancied giving a go?

If there was something you wanted to do that was really important, and would make a genuine difference to your life, what can you do now to make it still happen?

woman painting chair

Regret is born out of having done or not done something, so if you still want to do it, what needs to happen to be able to do it now?

Regret is born out of having done or not done something, so if you still want to do it, what needs to happen to be able to do it now?

  • Why didn’t it happen?

  • What did you let happen instead?

  • What got in the way?

Ask yourself some of these questions and work out if you really want to do something or if you’re just giving yourself a hard time for not seeing your spur of the moment idea through – which is totally okay, by the way.

For many of us, we still have more time than we did pre-pandemic life. Is it actually possible that you could still do that thing you wanted to with this time?

Be kind to yourself

Be kind to yourself, we’ve all been through a lot.

Many of us approached lockdown with true British positivity, a real ‘we can do this’ attitude. Not one of us knew how long it would go on for or how difficult it would be. It is an experience that we could never have prepared for.

But here we are, slowly but surely coming out the other side. And as we do come out the other side, it’s important to remember to be kind to yourself, and give yourself credit for the things that you did do. Perhaps you learned new things about yourself, your partner, or your children. Perhaps you supported a friend who was struggling. Perhaps you checked in with a neighbour who lives alone.

Take some time to reflect. You may not be fluent in a new language and you may not be the next best piano player, but I bet there’s so much you did achieve that you haven’t even praised yourself for yet.

The real question is, what will you do now? Will you learn, grow and move forward?

And remember, you aren’t alone.

Shelley Bosworth is a women’s life and mindset coach. Find out more about her work by visiting her website.

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