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Five ways to manage post-lockdown anxiety.


As all school children returned to the classroom this week, it marks the very beginning of our slow road out of lockdown. Does thinking about returning to 'normal life' fill you with anxiety? If it does then you are definitely not alone.


For the past 12 months we have been living with uncertainty and we have had very little control over our lives. Both of these are the perfect concoction for anxiety. We have all coped in different ways. Some of us will have found some positives have come out of the situation such as having more quiet time and space. We've carved out a new way of life and now that is set to change again.


Whatever you have done to get through this last year, you are now faced with getting back out there and despite all the things we may be looking forward to, this can still seem a daunting prospect. Children are now in school and people will soon be returning to work yet COVID is still out there and we are still living with uncertainty. How can we ease back into this 'new normal' in a way that keeps us safe and does not cause overwhelm?


Practice self awareness and acceptance.

Recognise any feelings of anxiety and try to accept that this is a very normal reaction to a situation that we have never before lived through. The world has been a particularly scary place for the last year. We have been bombarded with bad news and negativity. Many of us will have lost someone close to us and we have all missed out on physical contact with those that we love. If we can accept uncomfortable feelings rather than try to fight against them, these feelings are much more likely to reduce in severity.


Take it at your own pace.

We will all need to emerge back into pre-lockdown life at our own speed. Some will be hitting the nightclubs as soon as the doors are opened. Others will be really cautious about returning to the office or getting on a bus. You may be someone who has hardly been in a supermarket for many months so the prospect of going shopping may leave you feeling fearful. We are all individual and it is going to be so important at this time not to compare ourselves to others. If your friends are off clubbing but you feel more comfortable initially meeting just one friend for a coffee then that may be where you need to start.


Talk about how you feel.

We have all been through this pandemic together and we will continue to be in it together until we are well and truly out the other side. Close friends and family will understand if you confide in them. They may surprise you by telling you that they have been having the same thoughts and feelings. Attempting to hide anxiety from others can place an increased burden on your mental health whereas sharing how you feel can really ease that pressure. If you do not have someone close to you who you can talk to then perhaps you would like to reach out to a helpline such as The Samaritans or Mind. You can visit my mental health resources pages for contact information. Alternatively, counselling for anxiety can be really helpful.


Use positive journaling.

This can be really helpful for both anxiety and depression. Before you go to bed, write down two positive things that have happened during the day. This doesn't need to be anything major. It can be things like "I left the house and walked to the postbox" or "I baked a cake". As time goes by you can extend this by trying to write say 3 positive things each day and then 4. This really can re-frame your thinking and your brain will naturally start to look for the positives in each day. You can also write about things that you are grateful for such as a telephone call with a friend or a lovely compliment that you received from your partner or child.


Practice self care.

Really this should be at the top of the list! As we soon start to return to our pre-pandemic lives it is important to reflect on what we have been through and that we still need to look after ourselves. We all have a 'window of tolerance' when it comes to stress and I suspect we have all noticed that at times we have reached or exceeded this level. This has been evident in the increased number of abuse that public facing professionals have reported. Self care tips will follow in a later post but taking time to yourself can be really beneficial as can mindfulness, journaling, limiting social media and listening to podcasts or music. My personal favourite is long soak in a hot bubble bath.


What self care tips do you find helpful?


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