As we start to tentatively move out of lockdown, many people are feeling a mixture of emotions. Some people are eagerly waiting to get moving, maybe longing to book that holiday, meet up with colleagues again or have a night out under a patio heater. Other people might have mixed feelings, they might be fed up with staying at home, and ready for some face-to-face interaction, but they may still have niggling concerns. Other people may be dreading the idea of the country opening up again, for many reasons, the idea of being back in the workplace, or on public transport, may feel overwhelming.
I guess the first thing to say is that there is no right or wrong way to feel. A recent study by Anxiety UK said that 36% of participants were happy to stay at home, and of those who were feeling anxious 46% said the pressures of socialising were their main concern (Anxiety UK 2021). It’s totally understandable that people will feel a range of different emotions, and some of your feelings may even take you by surprise. However, if you are feeling anxious about lockdown ending, here are a few tips that might help.
Take things slowly
Firstly, there is no need to rush. You do not have to achieve everything in one day. Life has been quite different for some time and it’s okay if you feel emotionally wobbly. Take baby steps and rest if you must, it is okay.
Be kind to yourself
Remember to treat yourself kindly and with loads of compassion. Sometimes we are really kind to others, but we forget to be kind to ourselves. Try not to put yourself down. Try to speak to yourself kindly, as if you were speaking to a close friend.
Stay informed (but do not overdo it).
In this world of 24-hour rolling news and posts on social media, it can be easy to receive a constant stream of information. While it is useful to keep informed with facts from reliable sources, maybe you can have too much? Why not try limiting your intake to a couple to updates each day? Try spending some time watching or listening to something that you enjoy that makes you happy.
Focus on the things that you can control.
Sometimes we can become anxious about things that are outside our control. This can increase our anxiety levels even further. We may not be able to control what others are doing but we can follow the up-to-date guidance ourselves.
Remember your self-care.
This has been a stressful time and sometimes it has been difficult to remember to take care of ourselves. We are only human and none of us can pour from an empty cup. Remember to take the time to replenish yourself. Different people will do this in different ways, to some it will mean curling up and watching TV under the duvet, others might use mindfulness or a long bath and a mug of hot chocolate. Whatever works for you is an investment because you really are worth it.
Talk to someone.
If you feel down or anxious, reach out and talk to someone. Share with them how you feel. If you have a friend or relative who will support you, that’s brilliant. If there is no one available for whatever reason there are some amazing helplines, the Samaritans for example is open 24 hours every day. Finally, if you feel that you are in crisis, please don’t forget that you can call 111, your GP or visit A&E.