Uneasy about lockdown easing?

The easing of lockdown restrictions is causing a range of anxieties. It’s natural, and more common than you think.

As the speculation and then confirmation of the new road-map out of lockdown became the hot topic in the press, in social media and on our lips, it became clear that there are negative as well as positive reactions to the prospect of “getting back to normal”.

Although an exciting prospect for many, for others there is considerable worry about the idea of being in busy shops, cafes and bars, returning to the office and perhaps most of all fielding invitations for meeting up, partying and real-life socialising.  Some of these anxieties include:

  • Sensory overload – being surrounded by people and the sounds of multiple conversations can lead to panic attacks
  • Travelling by public transport, or driving on busy roads for the first time in a year
  • Lack of confidence arising from having put on weight during lockdown, maybe wondering what to wear when out and about or when returning to work
  • Feeling a pressure to meet up and socialise – particularly when friends and family are keen to catch up and make up for lost time

Just as we all needed to adjust to a different way of life for the past year, it is understandable that we may need help in adjusting to the easing of restrictions now.  Here are some tips:

  • Don’t look too far ahead – it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and there’s nothing to gain from speculation.  Focus on the present and immediate future, and try not to dwell on the past either.
  • Pace yourself. Do things in your own time and try to resist pressure from friends to do things you really don’t want to do until you are ready.  Equally though, it is important that you gently push yourself to move on and to reconnect with others, but in a way that feels right for you.
  • Build up your tolerance.  If you’ve been having online deliveries and the thought of the big shop makes you anxious, choose a smaller, less busy store and go at a quieter time of day, just to buy a couple of items.  Next time try a different shop or at a different time, and increase your exposure to crowded places gradually.
  • Talk to trusted friends about your anxiety – if they are excited by the easing of lockdown they may not have thought about how you might be feeling otherwise.  Arrange catch-ups one-to-one before getting together as a group, and start with meeting up for a coffee at a quiet café to begin with.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others – we all have our own ways of adapting and no one way is the right one.

There is advice available online from a number of charities, and many articles on this topic in magazines and social media too, which just goes to show how widespread this anxiety is, so do remember, if you’re feeling worried about getting ‘back to normal’, you are definitely not alone!

Further reading: