As the lockdown starts to ease up we have to accept a new reality and adapt. This is something that is naturally causing anxiety and confusion to some people, as it's the fear of the unknown. There are many considerations but we will have to face living with the coronavirus. It's very important that we find ways of coping with our anxiety to prevent it affecting our mental wellbeing.
You are certainly not alone if you find yourself feeling concerned about the easing of restrictions. You may feel uneasy about integrating back into your social circles or the thought of going back to your previous working environment. Our lives have been centred around our homes for many weeks and moving out into the environment may cause anxiety. People are expressing different views on the situation and some are finding it more emotionally challenging than others.
It's perfectly okay to feel anxious about the situation; after all it has been an abnormal and unprecedented event. It will take time to get used to what will be a 'new normal.' For the last 10 weeks our lives have been severely restricted and although it seemed very strange it gave some of us an odd feeling of security. We knew where we stood and we were all in it together for the greater good. There was a strong sense of community but this may change with the easing of restrictions. The unease and confusion is causing some people to feel stressed. With mobility increasing people may worry if they don't feel safe and may find it overwhelming to be in places with more people around, in spite of the 2 metre social distancing rule still applying.
For some of us lockdown has been a time of reflection and a space to consider what our values are and how we want to live. Will we be able to carry on as before, or even want to? There are people who have found working from home is something they would love to continue. Others have decided they would like to make a change, even considering moving away from where they currently live and changing their lifestyle. A great many people have unfortunately not had a choice. They may have lost a loved one, been made redundant or find their business is not viable any more and they will have to find other ways to earn a living. It is really important for us to acknowledge that all of us have had a very different experience and response to this pandemic and how it has changed our lives.
It will be challenging for many especially for those who have found lockdown emotionally difficult and have felt lonely and isolated. Some may not be able to return to the life they previously knew and will have to reconstruct their life which may take time and require support. Anxiety UK, a mental health charity, are concerned that there will be more people who will experience 'post-lockdown' anxiety and it is something that should be recognised and support made available.
To make a start to feel more comfortable in the new reality, as restrictions ease up, focus on what you can control not what you can't control.
- Choose when you feel it's right for you to meet up. Be open with your family and friends about how you feel and what feels comfortable to you. If you are due to go back to your place of work talk with your employer first.
- Regulate the time you want to spend with others and ease back gradually if that is more comfortable for you. Arrange to meet in advance rather than spring an unexpected visit on someone.
- Be kind and respectful to others because they may also have similar concerns and anxieties. You may be able to help each other and help you stay positive. This applies to employers as well as friends and family.
- Prioritise your self-care and build in space to be alone to keep your mind healthy. Keep to a regular sleep pattern, meditate, practise breathing exercises or yoga or write down your thoughts if that helps you to relax and feel calmer.
- Don't suppress your emotions. Talk to someone who you trust to remain positive. If you feel you need support to share your anxieties and feelings then seek professional help where you can safely express your thoughts in a non- judgemental and confidential environment.
Never has there been a more crucial time to build your emotional resilience to adapt to and embrace the new reality where our lives are very likely to be different to what they were before lockdown. The more you are able to develop your mental strength during this time the better equipped you will be to make the right decisions for yourself, your health, family, career or your business.
If you are feeling anxious and you would like to talk about your concerns please do not hesitate to contact me for a complementary call to discuss further. firstname.lastname@example.org
The organisations below also offer advice to help with anxiety and in relation to coronavirus.
Anxiety UK www.anxiety.org.uk
Good Thinking - An NHS Backed Service www.good-thinking.uk
Calm - The App for Meditation, Sleep, Relaxtion www.calm.com