Five Tips To Combat Post-Lockdown Anxiety
As we make our way out of twelve months of enforced house arrest, it would be easy to assume that we're all itching to get back out there. But for many, the past year has left us feeling depleted and unprepared for re-entry. For those feeling a little daunted at the prospect of throwing the doors back open, here are a few tips to help ease you back in to life outside.
YOU'RE NOT ALONE IN FEELING THIS WAY
We may have been in different boats but have all been in this same storm, and none of us has come out unscathed. We have all been socially deprived in one way or another, so we're bound to feel rusty and out of practice in the art of social connection. None of us is alone in feeling this way. Indeed, if you talk to friends and loved ones about your fears and anxieties you'll find a ready-made support network who fully understand where you've been. Because they have too. Alternatively, talking to a therapist can provide a great neutral space to talk through any fears and anxieties you may have.
START SLOWLY AND BUILD UP
If we believe the news and social media, it would be easy to assume that everyone is racing to get back out there. But for many of us, the past year has left us feeling worn down and a little frayed around the edges. Also, we may have become used to a new home-based lifestyle so throwing open the doors too quickly could throw us out of our Covid19 comfort zone. That's why it is really important to take things slowly and reintroduce ourselves gradually to life outside the front door. Think about the simple things you miss most about life before Covid19 and aim for those first; whether that be visiting the gym, meeting friends for a coffee or revisiting an old pastime. Lots of local businesses and venues are offering adapted versions of their usual offerings to allow access to services in a covid-safe manner. Starting small and building up like this will allow you to challenge yourself and regain confidence one pleasure at a time.
TAKE A SOLUTION-FOCUSSED APPROACH
Rather than seeing post-lockdown life as an overwhelming knot of potential stressors, try to break things down into a list of priorities so you can create a stress action plan. Write down and rank the situations you’re feeling particularly nervous about and decide what you could do in each situation to help ease your anxieties. For example, if you’re anxious about taking public transport, is there another way to reach your destination in the short-term while you regain your confidence? If not, could you travel at a quieter time of day when there may be less people around? If you’re worried about returning to work, could you speak to your manager and explore flexible working options or access your Employee Assistance Programme? Plan ahead where possible, and take a positive, problem-solving approach. Each challenge you meet will only help to boost your confidence and help you regain your post-covid footing.
DON'T BE AFRAID TO SET YOUR OWN TIMETABLE
We have all been through a tough and challenging year, and we will face our own individual challenges in returning to life post-lockdown. There is no set pace for this reintroduction so it's very tempting to look around and set our speed to that of those around us. Comparing ourselves to others in a situation like this is a surefire way to put more pressure on our shoulders and create unnecessary stress. Challenge yourself at your own pace and don't be afraid to turn down invitations and opportunities that feel too much too soon. It's much more important to regain self-confidence and resilience than to keep other people happy.
STRONG PHYSICAL HEALTH SUPPORTS STRONG EMOTIONAL HEALTH
Good physical health definitely helps with feelings of anxiety and stress. Eating a healthy diet, limiting alcohol intake, exercising regularly and getting good-quality sleep are all strong foundations for a healthy mind. Even when life starts to get a little busier over the coming months, remember to keep making the time to work on your physical health. Indeed, many fitness and health providers are currently looking for new customers via special offers and promotions so this could be a great opportunity to dive in and try something new.
Investing in a course of therapy is also a great way to boost confidence in getting back out there or making post-lockdown changes. Once BACP regulations allow, I will be providing a combination of online and in-person sessions to fit around individual client need. If you'd like to book in or learn more about how my style of therapy could help yo, get in touch via my website at www.stephengthomas.com.