Coping with anxiety about the easing of lockdown restrictions
After so long in lockdown, it's natural to feel some anxiety about restrictions easing. Here three of our bloggers share their feelings and their tips for coping.
Avoid the news if you need to
As lockdown restrictions are easing and everything seems to be getting back to normal, it can feel as though we are supposed to be completely happy about it with no anxiety or concerns. But if you struggle with your mental health, a break to your routine can leave you feeling anxious.
It is totally okay not to feel as excited as everyone else about the easing of lockdown. Personally, although I am excited to get back to normal, I am also worried that it won’t really happen. After a year of restrictions and broken promises, I don’t want to get my hopes up if it’s not going to happen.
The vaccine rollout seems to be going well, and it looks like we will all be vaccinated soon (fingers crossed), but I have some anxiety about the vaccine. I worry that I will not get it because of my age. I worry that new strains will emerge that are resistant to it. I worry that I may react badly. And I worry that it may not be as effective as they think and that we will be in lockdown forever.
To cope, I find it helpful to remind myself that the scientists working on it are very clever, and they are confident that it’s safe. In this case, distraction is the best method. It can also help to avoid the news (as hard as this is) and if people try to talk to you about it, kindly ask them to stop if you do not find it helpful to discuss it. Most people are not out to make your life harder.
Be patient, and be kind to yourself
As we approach the end of lockdown, it can be difficult to adjust to the new ‘normal’. As someone with anxiety, I understand that going back to school or work can be incredibly nerve-wracking. In fact, when I first heard about the pandemic coming to an end and that schools would be going back, I felt sick. So if you’re feeling anxious about lockdown easing, you’re not alone.
While being in lockdown, I have learnt quite a lot about my own mental health. I’ve always found comfort in my own home, because that is where I personally feel the safest, but I realised that being shut away from everyone actually increases my anxiety, and I’m sure that there are a lot of people that feel the same way as I do. After I realised this, I decided that it would be best to start easing myself into going outside again by going for a five-minute walk around my street. At first, I felt a rush of anxiety through my body but once I was outside, I was fine. If you’re struggling to adjust to being outside again, try starting small and working up to it.
If you or someone you know has an anxiety disorder and you want to help them or yourself ease into the new normal, remember to be patient. Even though taking a walk outside, going back into work or going back to school is easy for a lot of people, for people struggling with anxiety these can be incredibly difficult tasks.
Also remember that it is okay to take days off for your mental health if you feel that it will benefit you. There is no ‘right’ way to feel or behave in this situation, so be kind to yourself.
Remember the lessons you've learnt in lockdown
The easing of lockdown restrictions has conjured up some unexpected feelings of anxiety for me. It feels strange that this would be the case, as I have dreamt of getting out of lockdown since it began, but that’s how I feel.
Here are a few things that have triggered my anxiety, and how I’m coping.
You don’t have to pick things up where you left off
During some low periods throughout the past year, I have genuinely convinced myself that l made up my life before lockdown. I scroll through photos on my phone and it’s as if I didn’t live through those memories. It’s daunting to think that we will forever mark time as before and after Covid.
With lockdown easing, I’m trying to remind myself that I don’t have to pick up where I left off pre-pandemic or go back to before. A year has passed, and even though it hasn’t been the year I expected, things have still changed and I have evolved. It’s okay to recognise that and move forwards instead of looking backwards.
It’s okay to set boundaries
By the time June has rolled around, I worry that people will think that Covid has completely gone and it’s okay to start hugging everyone. I feel as though people will start standing really close to me in the supermarket and the increased personal space I’ve enjoyed in lockdown will disappear.
It’s important to remind yourself that you have your own boundaries and, pandemic or no pandemic, nobody can dictate to you what you should or should not be doing. Just because your friend is ready to give you a squeeze, it doesn’t mean they get to. Explaining to friends and family how you feel will help with this.
Do things at your own pace
As someone whose anxiety thrives when I’ve got a lot on my plate, I have come to enjoy the slower pace of life in lockdown. I enjoy spending time on my own reading a book in bed with a cup of tea, and have treasured having time to do more of that.
As lockdown eases, I will ensure that I still have that time and try not to feel pressured to attend every event just because it’s been a long time. It’s okay to take things at your own pace.
Where to get help
If you are struggling with your mental health, you're not alone. For tips, advice and information on where you can get support with whatever you're going through, have a look at our find help pages.