What is Post-Lockdown Anxiety?
During lockdown, some will have struggled to adapt to the new norm: establishing a work routine from home, adapting exercise and diet regimes and finding alternative ways to communicate with family and friends. Others may have found the limits of lockdown as a welcome slow-down, forcing us to reflect on our fast-paced lives and focus on spending more time with family and engaging with our passions.
As more and more freedoms are granted, you may feel conflicting emotions. You might experience anticipated relief after longing for normality for a period of time. You might also feel nervous and apprehensive about what the future holds, and what returning to normality may actually look like. This blog may help you understand if you are experiencing Post-Lockdown Anxiety and give you some tips on how to manage your symptoms.
Post-Lockdown Anxiety is characterised by worry and fear following the easing of lockdown restrictions. Here are some symptoms you may be experiencing:
- Excessive worry about the future and what life will be like after lockdown
- Excessive worry about developing Covid-19
- Racing thoughts and focusing on ‘what-ifs’
- Feeling tense and on edge
- Feeling torn between different choices, such as whether to go outdoors or stay at home
- Difficulty sleeping
- Increased heart rate or panic attacks
Why do I experience Post-Lockdown Anxiety?
In any situation that brings uncertainty and ambiguity, humans experience anxiety and some panic. These evolutionary experiences are designed to help us survive, by helping us avoid danger and threats. During lockdown, we have learnt to view our homes as a safe space that protects us and our loved ones from the danger outside. As the outside world is not yet free from Covid-19, the outdoors may still be perceived as a dangerous place.
These unprecedented circumstances have also disrupted our lives on an existential level. Society is both something we live in and an integral part of our fabric of life. Drastic changes to our society, along with the ongoing uncertainty about what the future will look like, can therefore change our perception of ourselves on an unconscious level. For these reasons, people who have never experienced mental health difficulties before can experience anxiety for the first time, whereas for others, these circumstances can exacerbate individuals’ pre-existing anxiety.
Experiencing some degree of anxiety in this ever-changing environment is normal. However, if your symptoms are affecting your ability to function or are causing you significant distress, there are some things you can do to help you manage your symptoms and cope with Post-Lockdown Anxiety.
What can I do to combat Post-Lockdown Anxiety?
Remember how it felt to adapt to the new way of living. Adapting once again will take time, so show yourself compassion and patience. Here are some practical tips for managing your symptoms:
Make Small Changes
Whilst it might be tempting to jump back into normality as quickly as you can, try and take each step at a time. Adapting to change requires time. Note down how you feel in every new situation, such as going for a socially distanced walk with friends. You will be less likely to feel overwhelmed and experience sensory overload if you ease yourself into new routines. Remember you coped with change before. Try not to expect too much of yourself to start with.
An aspect of lockdown that some people may miss is the slower paced, more reflective way of life. However, you can still maintain some of this through practising mindfulness, such as by taking 5 minutes everyday to focus on your breath and practising deep, slow breaths, or by mindful eating, eating a meal without any distractions and focusing on the smell and flavours of the food.
Limit your Media Intake
Some Post-Lockdown Anxiety may be caused by the uncertainty of the future. In a world where each news update changes our expectations of normality, spending too much time watching the news or on social media may become unhelpful. What we hear on the media may be beyond our control, and focusing on this may worsen anxious symptoms. Allocate some limited time for media intake.
Talk to supportive friends and family about how you’re feeling. It is likely that someone you know will be having similar experiences and sharing your thoughts and emotions can help relieve your stress.
If you would like to seek professional support during these challenging times, our experienced therapists can support you and help you cope with your anxiety. We offer both face-to-face and remote online sessions, to meet your needs and ensure that Covid-19 does not prevent you from receiving the support you need. Book a FREE 15-minute assessment call with our Client Support Team, who can listen to your story, and book a FREE 30-minute session with one our therapists.
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