Coping with post lockdown anxiety

Britons are being urged to put their mental health and wellbeing first as lockdown restrictions begin to ease.

As a psychotherapist, I have seen an increasing number of people presenting with signs of post lockdown anxiety.

I believe being realistic about the coming months is vital as is acknowledging that life has been challenging over the last 12 months.

I want to remind those feeling anxious that we have been here before when restrictions eased during the summer.

Feelings of anxiety around lockdown restrictions beginning to ease are not anything to fear, in fact they’re only natural after living the way we have over the last year.

What we do have to remember though is that we’ve been here before. When restrictions eased last summer, we went through the process of reintegrating and got back to some kind of normality, even if it was short-lived.

It’s key for people to remember to approach situations with optimistic caution, not to be afraid of feeling anxious and to accept that life has been challenging over the last 12 months.

Here are my tips for dealing with post lockdown anxieties:

Optimistic caution
Approach coming out of lockdown with a degree of caution. The government have given us dates to work towards, but these could change. For people who like to plan and have order, a lockdown date shifting by just a few weeks could be detrimental. Make tentative plans but nothing too concrete.

Anxiety and fear
Anxiety and fear are normal responses – the problem comes when they begin to take over. We also have to be aware of what we can and can’t control. Think about the signs that show your fears are beginning to take over. Are you dropping the ball with your finances, health, wellbeing? These are the things to look out for and to seek help with.

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Fear of future lockdowns
Seeing others breaking the rules when you’re not can be hugely frustrating and cause anxiety. However, think about whether your anger or rage is down to the rule-breakers you’re seeing at the park or whether it’s down to a more deep-rooted problem. It’s time for some self-analysis.

Acceptance
We have to accept that life is challenging at the moment and will continue to be so for some time. Acknowledging that can be a big relief and can empower us to look at what we can do to feel better, however small that may be.

Accountability
As restrictions begin to ease, set yourself small goals and be accountable for them. So, arrange to meet a friend for a walk, another for a coffee. If you’re feeling anxious about post lockdown life, these small steps will help.

Be realistic
There is no cure for Covid19. Vaccines are going well but there will be new strains and people will still get sick with the virus. We have to be realistic about the ongoing situation we’re facing.

Opportunities
The last year has undoubtedly tough, but there have also been lots of positives and opportunities and this is what we need to focus on as we come out of lockdown. They don’t have to be big things, they can simply be about spending more time together as a family, meals as a family unit every day and having time to sit down and communicate. Some of these we will want to take into our post-lockdown lives.

Keeley Taverner is a well-respected psychotherapist, author and coach. If you have been inspired by this article or would like to interview Keeley for your publications, please do get in touch.

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