Many are worried about coming out of lockdown. After being snuggled in the security of your own home for, at this point of writing this blog, 93 days, it is understandable that you will feel safe at home but now starting to experience post lockdown anxiety
Post lockdown anxiety is, as it says. You could be feeling anxious about leaving your own home and going back to work. You also feel anxious about everyone else leaving their own homes as the government start to encourage us back into what “normal” life was.
You would have known deep down at some point this would happen but it doesn’t stop you experiencing post lockdown anxiety. You find yourself feeling more and more anxious as you watch people take it in their stride and seem careless about sticking to the rules. So how do you cope with this if you feel that a lot of this is out of your control?
I will address these issues and hopefully allay some of your fears. Or at least give you some ideas of what you can do about it.
1. Minimise watching and reading about the news
We hear so much conflicting information. We hear threats about this and about that. Most of it, no one really knows what’s going on as a) It is a new virus b). The news is there to sell a story has that’s how they get paid
You watching it any more won’t change what’s happening. It will only build on your anxiety as you ,may feel powerless over things that are happening.I tend to restrict my news viewing to once a day, preferably not before bedtime
2.Lack of confidence in your ability to cope
In some ways, this virus has made us seem that there is a lot out of our control. We depend on our NHS Heroes, the Government, Keyworkers so we overlook the fact what you do for yourself matters.
You need to remind yourself of your own strengths. That you have been through a lot in the past and you are still here. You are a lot stronger than you think.
Try and make a list of your strengths. Maybe you are creative? thoughtful? organised? resourceful? etc See what strength you can draw on to make this transition easier for you.
3. Triggering old wounds
Maybe this situation has triggered old wounds? It could be feelings of powerlessness, depending on people who repeatedly let you down or you can’t trust, even witnessing this chaos.
Ideally therapy would help here as a supportive therapist like myself would, in a safe environment, be there for you to help you heal the wounds of your past.
If Therapy is not an option at the moment, don’t feel afraid to talk to a supportive friend that would just listen as you talk. Or you could even try activities like journaling to write your feelings on how it’s affecting you.
4. Fear is a normal response to difficult situations
Remember that being frightened or feeling anxious at times is normal. The situation that we are in is unprecedented. None of us has experienced anything like this before.
It is normal that when we experience stress, it is natural to:
Fight – as it gets us what we need
Flight – Feel afraid then run away
Freeze – Disconnect from what is happening.
It is OK to feel afraid as it is a natural response to challenging situations. It is nature’s warning system that you need to act and respond quickly.
Think of how you can respond to this situation in a positive way that will help. Use some of the suggestions in this blog.
5. Try Meditating and or breathing techniques
One of the best ways to relax and manage those symptoms of anxiety is meditation. It’s free, you can also do it anytime and anywhere.
Meditating kills anxiety as you can’t meditate well and feel anxious at the same time. Even over a period of time of meditating, your body would become used to it and you will find it a lot easier to feel calm and relaxed.
So consider taking this up as a daily practice, it will change your life. I have some blogs that explains it here.
6. Plan ahead
- May be just plan with your employers so you can avoid rush hour
- Only go out days/times when less people are there
- Plan to go out with a friend that will be more encouraging and supportive of you.
- Go out of your way to schedule times to relax when you know you have something challenging to do which you can’t avoid.
- Just be organised to minimise the stress you can control so you have more energy and resources to cope with the things you can’t control.
7. Incorporate fun, pleasurable activities that you will enjoy
Especially in the first few weeks of going back to work. Try and avoid activities and people that would cause you more stress. Make more emphasis on activities that will bring you joy.
Many times when we feel anxious, we forget about just trying to enjoy the things we used to enjoy.
We would need to make a conscious effort to do these things I know to begin with.
Make a list of energising activities
Do you enjoy crafts? Sports? Painting Tinkering about with your car?
Think about doing whatever you enjoy doing that doesn’t cause you harm in any way.
8. Avoid using alcohol to help you cope
It is so important to try and accept how you are feeling. Try not to deny it, ignore it or substance misuse it away. Many of us can turn to alcohol to help dampen our feelings and emotions. Some also drink more as it gives them more confidence.
The more you do this, the more it stays around as you are not dealing with it.
Accept you are feeling anxious about the easing of lockdown
Remind yourself that you will be OK and it is OK to feel anxious
9. Keep it real
It is OK to be real with yourself over what’s happening.
If you feel safe wearing a mask and gloves, wear one.
If you want to continue keeping 2 metre distance whenever you can, carry on
If you want to take supplements to boost your immunity, take them.
Just continue to reassure yourself you are doing the best you can.
If doing these things just makes you feel more comfortable and at ease, it’s fine to do. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, leave it up to them.
10. Try Gratitude
Science has proven time and time again that cultivating gratitude is another way to help with symptoms of anxiety and depressions. Having time out to think about happy moments and times, will bring up feel good feelings.
Deliberately seek out what is good around you and in your life
Keep a gratitude journal and journal around three things daily that made you feel grateful. Simple things like you are glad you had a nice meal to day or that you are grateful for where you live.
Also you can think of things that made you smile, that cheered you up a little or even just made you forget for a moment what’s going on in the world.
Get a nice bright colourful notebook to write these things down and keep it in a place where you won’t forget to do it.
Will help you end your day on a positive note.
Stay with your feelings of gratitude for as long as possible. Try to savour those memories and feelings for a few seconds longer.
11. Take care of your physical health as best as you can
Taking care of your physical health would help you both to protect your immune system and giving you the best chance of fighting this virus. Secondly, what we eat affects our mood.
There is no denying the fact that having a strong immune system will give you some protection against this virus. This just the food you eat but your nutrition. Maybe consider supplementation and definitely spend some time out doors in the sun getting some vitamin D.
It is also well known that what we eat affects how we feel. If our appetite is affected and we are not eating well, our energy levels will also be low. We will find ourselves tired and lacking in motivation. Feeling like this physically would make it harder for us to cope emotionally.
If we find that we are over eating and comfort eating, this also affects our mood. When we eat things like chocolate, crisps or white bread, it gives us a quick spike in our energy levels and we feel good. This feel good feeling only lasts a short while and our energy levels crash.
This is when we then start to feel tired and grouchy. We would then need more comfort food to feel good again.
Sleep is also vital. When we sleep well we flourish physically and emotionally.
12. What have you got control over?
The serenity prayer almost hits the nail on the head about how we can handle things under our control.
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference
Even if you are not religious, I hope you can get something from it.
For me, in times like this, it’s more about what I can control
I can’t control what the government decides
I can’t control people not social distancing
I can’t control how people are behaving
What I can control is my health and keeping my immunity at the best it can be.
I can control the negativity people that are in my life. I can control my time with them
I can control what I watch on t.v. and what I listen to
I can control what I do with my time
I can also control is my mental health. I can get the help I need and or continue to do the positive activities that helps me to feel better.
13. The final one I will tackle today is to challenge those negative thoughts.
Use all the knowledge you have gained and the action you will take from this blog to remind yourself that you are doing the best that you can.
That you can’t cont control what others do but you’re in control of you.
Sometimes, we let our negative thoughts run away with us and we don’t stop to check how they are affecting us.
When we are feeling really anxious, stop and think about the thoughts that is going through your mind. These thoughts could be about yourself or other people.
Would you say those things to anyone else. If you did how do you think they would feel? Why is it OK for you to hear those words?
I am a Therapist based in Sutton Coldfield, UK also available online.
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