We are all breathing that gentle sigh of relief when we see the daily coronavirus figures decline. The starting glimpses of returning to some form of normality is a HUGE reassurance. But, for a lot of us, even though “freedom day” has come and gone, we’re still feeling on-edge. A lot of us are struggling with post-lockdown anxiety, and are struggling to relax or believe that it is truly safe to go anywhere.
Things are uncertain. However, closing off from the outside world isn’t the answer. It will actually make you more anxious if you keep yourself in a lockdown.
But, if you’re looking for a few ways to start dealing with your post-lockdown anxiety, where do you begin?
Here are some approachable ways that might start to ease your post-lockdown anxiety. Hope they help!
1. Start introducing a regular daily routine (that includes leaving the house)
It was a very different lifestyle for us when the UK was living in lockdown. Yet, as much as there was fear about the figures we were hearing daily on the news, we also had a small sense of security that we could keep it out as long as we remained indoors.
With restrictions lifting, and more people going outside again, that sense of security is slipping away. So, really, it makes sense as to why we would feel frightened of the change. However, a good way of trying to ease that post-lockdown anxiety includes adding routine to our day and trying to leave the house at least once a day. Even if you leave the house, take your little one for a walk around the block, and then go home again. You’ll feel better for the fresh air, and you will give yourself a gradual reassurance that letting the outside world into your home is not necessarily a bad thing.
2. Mindfulness/meditation/breathing exercises
When we’re feeling tense and anxious, it can be quite difficult to come down from that heightened emotion. We can sometimes find ourselves in a downwards spiral if we continue to dwell in our thoughts. However, a good method of climbing back out again is by practicing mindfulness, meditation and/or breathing exercises.
The NHS have a page on mindfulness, and stated the following about how mindfulness can help our mental wellbeing:
Becoming more aware of the present moment can help us enjoy the world around us more and understand ourselves better.
When we become more aware of the present moment, we begin to experience afresh things that we have been taking for granted.
It’s a great idea to start taking conscious efforts to practice any of the three above ideas. Even if you aren’t feeling particularly anxious! It may not fully work straight away, but with practice, you will really feel the benefits of taking 5 or 10 minutes out of your day to focus on your mental health.
If you’re interested in more ways to explore mindfulness, check out our previous blog “mindfulness for mums“.
3. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling post-lockdown anxiety
It’s very easy to feel ashamed or embarrassed for feeling anxious post-lockdown, especially if you are seeing and hearing about other people going out and “getting back to normal” again. However, the downfall for most of us when it comes to how we feel about ourselves is the way we compare ourselves with others. It’s very easy to see that others are coping just fine and to be angry or upset with ourselves for not being the same.
But, the more you beat yourself, the more upset and anxious you are going to feel. And then, you will find yourself caught in an endless loop. So, here’s the reminder you need to read (and try to say out loud to yourself) when you feel upset with yourself for feeling anxious:
You are your own person. You have your own feelings, your own thoughts and your own worries. What others can cope with right now may not be the same as what you can cope with. But there are many things that you are able to cope with, and you should hold your chin high for that. Be proud of being honest, considerate, and wonderful you.
4. Remind yourself, and establish, the areas in your life where you have control
There has been a lot of negative changes following the coronavirus outbreak. Major life-affecting changes that haven’t fully left us. It constantly feels like another lockdown is looming around the corner. The world hasn’t gone back to “normal” yet, and it’s possible that we will never return to the way things were!
…Those thoughts have probably crossed your mind a few times by now, haven’t they? The problem with these worrisome thoughts is that they are issues that are out of our control. It’s sort of similar to when parents may feel anxiety while their children are growing up and start behaving unpredictably/making their own decisions. When there are areas in our life that are out of our control, things can feel terrifying!
Feeling a lack of control can make us feel quite helpless. So one of the ways we can try to ease this element of anxiety is to remind ourselves of all the aspects in our lives we do have control over. Write down the elements in your life that you are in charge of. Make a note and think of the things that can change and improve because of your actions. This could include: physical health, your routine, designated playtime with your children, time with your partner, “me” time, who you associate with, learning/improving a new skill, the way you eat, the way you sleep or, plain and simply, the way you appreciate others and the way you think about yourself.
Remind yourself that these things are down to you! And then consciously make an effort to establish them in your life again. You are still in control of these things in your life, and try not to forget them.
5. Limit (and monitor) the amount of news and social media posts you read
We all remember that moment when we were all sat at home with our families. Hearing the PM instruct us that we must remain indoors… It was a crazy and confusing time (it still is!). And, as a result of that, we were all glued to our TV’s and our phones, waiting with bated breath to find out the next update.
We all clocked in more screen time, obsessed with finding out daily figures and hearing any fresh news on the subject. But despite the fact that we aren’t in lockdown, that problem hasn’t gone away. A lot of us still monitor our local figures on a near day-to-day basis. But, doing so is just making us more frightened anytime today’s figures are a few higher than yesterday.
So perhaps it is time for us to consciously limit the amount of this sort of media we are consuming. By limiting the amount that we are reading about this matter, the less that the pandemic may be on our minds. You do not need to block out the information completely, but reducing the amount you are consuming will do wonders!
6. Set boundaries, but don’t avoid the world!
No one knows your comfort zones better than you do. It’s easy enough to stick inside them, but if “staying in your comfort zone” means never walking out of your front door, then you may have a problem!
We’re not advising that you dive head-first into a football-stadium-sized crowd, maskless and sharing drinks with friendly, but loudly howling, strangers. Keep your boundaries! If it makes you feel more comfortable, continue to stay away from crowded locations and request eating in outdoor seating areas. Wear your facemask and sanitise your hands after walking out of every shop you’ve been in.
Do what makes you feel protected- but don’t shut the world out.
7. Tell class providers about your post-lockdown anxiety
With the lift of the mandatory mask-wearing rule, a lot of people have put off attending events or going to public places. It may have put you off attending a baby or toddler class that you regularly go to. However, this is something that can probably be approached by simply reaching out and talking to your class provider.
Ask questions such as “how do you run your risk assessments” or “what are you doing to stay covid-safe”. Tell them that you feel a little bit anxious. They will be able to discuss with you what precautions you can both put in place to make you feel as comfortable as they can. Perhaps request to sit near a window or bring in your own mat to sit on.
Reach out to your favourite class providers on Happity, and see what they will do to help you with this!
8. Small, slow and steady changes
No one said that everything has to change all at once! Yes, that did happen way back when we were first being shut into our houses. But that doesn’t mean that you have to change back just as quickly.
You need to follow your own pace. If something feels like too fast of a change for you, then that’s okay! Move to the beat of your own drum. And if the rhythm you play is a little bit slower than others, don’t fret about it. Make the right changes as slow or as fast as you want.
You just need to listen to your instincts and approach new situations when you are ready for them.
9. Seek support for post-lockdown anxiety
If you are looking for more tips on how you can start to deal with your post-lockdown anxiety, then the NHS have provided their own list of tips. There’s some great advice on there that you should check out!
However, if you are finding yourself particularly struggling, then we strongly recommend reaching out to your GP or contacting a charity to talk to someone. Find more information here.
Remember, we’re still in uncertain times, and you are valid for feeling wary and anxious. Take things at your own pace, but try not to block out everything and everyone. Look after yourselves!