Post lockdown anxiety - tips for looking after your mental health...
19th March 2021
As the government sets out its roadmap to start easing lockdown restrictions, many of us embrace the thought of seeing friends, family, returning to the workplace and doing activities we used to enjoy.
However, for some the long-awaited changes and return to ‘normality’ can bring very real challenges and anxiety. Again, it’s more adjustments, more changes to comprehend, the fear of exposure to the virus once more, the return to real life pressures, time pressures, social expectations and ongoing uncertainties.
For many, this may be a potential trigger for panic attacks, social anxiety, generalised anxiety disorder, phobias, agoraphobia, depression and many mental health conditions.
Each of us have had our own experience of lockdown and we will have our own unique experience of re-integration. We are all experiencing different levels of uncertainty and challenges and have varying levels of resilience and coping mechanisms. So, I would strongly suggest not judge yourself too harshly or compare yourself to others and just focus on how best you can adjust.
Here are a few things to consider and some tips to help you cope:
- Take control of what you can - focus on what you can do to help ease any anxiety and let go of all the things out of your control.
- Focus on the present moment - you can only do what you can do with the resources you have at the time, be kind and caring to yourself without judgment.
- One step at a time - start doing more things and engaging in activities and new routines slowly, taking each a step at a time. Listen to yourself - if you feel overloaded, maybe slow down and pace yourself better, take the pressure off yourself and do things at your pace.
- Keep up your hobbies - if you’ve enjoyed a new hobby during lockdown, do your best to maintain it.
- Variety - expose yourself slowly to all the things you used to do before. Walk a different route, visit a different shop, go out at different times of day to help you adjust to busier times.
- Self-care - take time to nurture and care for yourself. Make time to relax, meditate, do breathing techniques, pamper yourself. All the things you can do to ease any anxiety.
- Grounding - keep grounded throughout using grounding techniques, meditation, relaxation techniques, hypnotherapy etc. These practices will help you feel more centred, grounded and more able to cope with everyday life.
- Communicate with others - share your anxieties, if you can, with friends or family and go at your pace, not allowing yourself to be ‘bullied’ or pressured to do things before you feel ready. Talk to work if you’re finding returning to the workplace difficult. Talk to the school if your children are finding the adjustments too much. Be open and honest with yourself.
- Social engagement - join in with friends, family, sports, social activities slowly and at your pace. Be mindful of not pushing yourself to much but also challenging your anxiety of social situations - often pushing through and facing our fears can be helpful.
- If you’re worried about travelling - pick the transport you feel most comfortable with, plan ahead, pick a quiet time if you can, know the safety measures and requirements in place. Finding out information and planning your travel arrangements will help ease anxiety.
- If you’re worried about your health and covid safety - ensure you take the suggested precautions and the ones you feel most comfortable with. Ask your employer or places you plan to visit what procedures they have in place and ensure you feel comfortable with them.
- If you have experienced a grief or know someone who has - be especially kind to yourself and others. It may be doubly hard for someone returning to work or seeing people again if they have experienced a loss, so be sensitive and mindful of their needs. If this is you, talk to your employer and share your feelings with friends and family if you can.
- Self-reassurance - you have already made so many adjustments and have coped, coming out of lockdown is just another.
Together we have got through lockdown, together we can come out of it.
“You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”
Winnie The Pooh - Christopher Robin