Feeling overwhelmed about lockdown easing? You're not alone.
We all have changed so much over the last year.
We have adapted to a new routine and ways of being throughout one of the most uncertain year, one which permitted us to feel more in control of our situation. Our system can interpret the new change from this routine as a threat and going back to some "normalcy" can bring on overwhelming feelings to the surface.
It's possible that you may be feeling some mild anxiety regarding returning to regular activities after following the quarantine guidelines by remaining at home over the last year. Your system may react to this change back to interacting with others as a threat. It’s your system simply trying to protect you.
The term "social anxiety" is something many people struggle with. While many are looking forward to the prospect of seeing families and friends again, some people experience feelings of 'post-pandemic anxiety'. We have all experienced huge changes and challenges to our social circumstances in the past year, with some of us spending long periods of time alone or within a limited bubble of social contacts. We have had to adapt to a completely new routine which has immensely affected our lifestyles, work life, relationships and while we have quickly adapted - the mere thought of yet another change is quite worrying and on an emotional level, facing yet more changes and having to adapt to a new set of circumstances may cause discomfort.
So how do we cope with this feeling of unease or ‘return anxiety’?
Here are some tips:
ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR FEELINGS
It’s normal to experience a range of feelings around lockdown easing. First, consider how you feel about these new changes that will soon be happening. Be understanding and patient with yourself and try to take each day as it comes, acknowledging emotions when they arise. Practicing mindfulness by journaling is a useful way to process our feelings.
TALK ABOUT IT
When you acknowledge the emotions, talking about it helps diminish its control over your mind. Talk about it with friends and family, it could be that some of them are experiencing the same sorts of feelings.
TAKE YOUR TIME
Pace yourself, if you’re not ready to start meeting up with people know that it's absolutely fine. Do what you feel comfortable with. Perhaps starting with small challenges such as going to the supermarket at busier times of day or meeting up with just one friend can help build it from there. Remember that t’s not a race and do what feels right for you.
BACK TO BASIC
Focus on exercise, sleep and nutrition - these things have a massive impact on our mental, physical and even emotional health. Even just going for a daily walk, going to bed early and following a balanced and healthy diet can make a big difference in regulating your mood and managing your stress/anxiety levels.
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
Don’t forget how strong and resilient you are – just as you adjusted to the life during lockdown, you will be able to adapt again, give yourself a pat on the back and consider how far you’ve come!
TAKE YOUR NEW LIFE WITH YOU
Make a list of things that you are grateful for during lockdown - spending time with your family, a less-stressful commute to work, more time to exercise and eat healthy - focus on these benefits and what they mean to you and try to incorporate them into your daily life post-pandemic.