As the world starts to slowly open back up after what has been a most tumultuous and terrifying time, it shouldn’t be too surprising that many of us are struggling to readjust back to life as we once knew it. Forced isolation, being far from loved ones, health worries, and finances have all been the daily morsels of mega stress for the past few weeks, but that doesn’t mean that we are all going to comfortably dash out the door once lockdown lifts. This is going to take some time, patience, love and understanding to get back into the comfort zone. Whether it’s a worry about being back in public spaces or just aiming to adjust to having stuff to do once again, here’s how to deal with post lockdown anxiety…
Don’t use your energy to try and fend off anxious feelings as this is when they can take tight hold. Anxiety can make you feel physically unwell and mentally unbalanced but being able to recognize it is a hugely helpful step. Once you are able to say to yourself, I feel anxious, this is anxiety, you are able to garner more control over the situation and can commit to actions that may help it pass. Breathing techniques, moving the body, writing, and working on ways to balance out your parasympathetic system are all small things you can do to shift head and body space.
Go at Your Own Pace
While you may have friends who are keen to come over for dinner or ready to hop on a plane for a sporadic getaway that doesn’t mean you need to push yourself before you are comfortable. We all move at a different pace, and you should honor your own pace.
Titration is Key
However, it is also important to push yourself a teeny tiny bit beyond what you may consider being a narrow safety zone. Even if it's just going out for a socially distant walk for ten minutes, nipping into one shop, or ordering a takeaway. The aim of the game is titration so you don’t overwhelm yourself but get back to normal drop by drop.
Stick to Things You Can Control
If you aren’t quite ready to return to life before lockdown it can seem alarming to see other people moving at a faster pace, especially if you don’t feel safe. Remember, you cannot control things outside of your own scope. You cannot control government guidelines or other people’s choices you can only work within your own boundaries and decisions. You can control how much news you consume and you can start noticing how you are feeling on a deeper level so you can notice when anxiety is taking control.
Destigmatizing mental health issues means talking about things that are causing you to feel anxious and upset. If you are struggling with post lockdown anxiety problems then consider opening up to close friends or a family member, or even seeking professional help if you are able to. Sometimes, it's not even the advice others can offer that is helpful, but more about learning to make sense of how you are feeling by saying things aloud.
This Too Shall Pass
The anxiety you may feel now can be terribly debilitating. It’s important to remember that we are hugely resilient creatures. Look how quickly we adapted to this strange new lockdown world! While coming out of it can feel big and scary and send your cortisol soaring, remember that this too shall pass. There will be a point in the next few weeks or months when you will feel comfortable and like your old self again. In the meantime, be gentle with yourself and do all those basic self-care things like eating well, try and get enough sleep, and move your body.