The easing of COVID restrictions seems like the goal we’ve all been waiting for and the end of a long struggle. However, we also got used to being in a bit of a bubble. So the thought of going out into noisy crowds and busy social spaces can easily lead to post-lockdown anxiety.
However, the most important thing to remember about this is that we went into this and we can also come out of it again. Granted, the brain hates change but we adapted and we survived. Of all the mammals, human beings are experts at this.
Of course, you might be feeling wonderful about it all. But remember it’s not going to be the same for everyone. Someone you know could be experiencing post-lockdown anxiety. And if you can let them know that you understand, it will make a huge difference to them. So read on and find out what you can do to help!
Here my top tips on how to deal with post-lockdown anxiety and making the transition with ease!
1. Don’t get caught up in “What-ifs”
Constantly worrying about how it’s all going to be overcrowded and noisy, that you won’t be able to cope is the definition of anxiety. It’s so easy to sit here and imagine where it could all go wrong!
But 99% of the things we worry about never actually happen. In March 2020, we thought we wouldn’t be able to cope with six weeks of lockdown. But we did and with nearly 12 months of it. Remember, you are more resilient than you know!
2. Focus on the now
The dates, timeframe and regulations of how we are going to come out of lockdown continue to change.
You can spend days worrying about something and then all of a sudden, the regulations change and it was all a waste of brain energy. All you’ve done is unnecessarily fill up your stress bucket!
So, take it one day at a time and focus on what you can control right now. Talk to people you trust about the regulations and what it means to you on a day-to-day basis.
3. Do what’s right for you
If you want to continue to social distance when outdoors, try and do that. This may mean you need to go to the supermarket at a different time, maybe even go to a different supermarket, take walks in quieter areas or continue to wear your mask.
Doing all these things will help you reduce your post-lockdown anxiety levels. Build up your tolerance gradually, it’s not a race to the finish line!
If you need to, communicate this clearly to your friends and family. Explain your anxieties and explain that you are working towards coming out of your lockdown at a gradual pace that suits you.
I am sure, after everything that’s happened this year, they will totally understand. It may only be a matter of days before you feel back to some sense of normality, so ask for patience.
4. Take your bubble with you
It’s going to be difficult to step into places that are noisy and crowded. After months of being completely in control of our environment, we’ve become de-sensitised. All the sounds, sights, smells could be overwhelming, you might even get sensory overload. In fact, noise is one of the biggest stressors in life in general.
So, begin with quieter, calmer places and build up your tolerance. Keep your headphones in and listen to your favourite music or podcast. Meet up with only one or two friends, to begin with.
When you get back in your car, put on your favourite radio station and stay away from the news. What you’re really trying to do is to make your own little bubble, your safe space, a bit more portable.
5. Keep doing what you’re doing
A lot of people found real joy in lockdown. They picked up an old hobby they had forgotten they had or even learned something new like playing an instrument or a new language.
If this was you, don’t stop doing those things. If baking brought you new joy then why wouldn’t you keep doing it – lockdown restrictions lifting don’t mean go back to shop-bought cakes!
Use what you learned to find your new normal. You should be proud of coming out of the other side of this a better person.
How to deal with your post-lockdown anxiety
Overall, do what’s right for you and take your time to find your way back. You don’t need to explain what you’re coming out of because we went through this together.
But challenge your post-lockdown anxiety a little every day and know that you will get there. Stay solution-focused and have a positive end goal in mind!
And remember, by finding your way back I don’t mean where we left off when all this began. I mean a better place for you, where you understand what your priorities are and you know how to take care of yourself.
Gin Lalli firstname.lastname@example.org
Gin Lalli is a Solution Focused Therapist specialising in anxiety, depression, stress and sleep. She is based in Edinburgh, Scotland