Dealing with anxiety as Lockdown restrictions start to lift
As lockdown restrictions are beginning to lift and things are gradually starting to open up again, many of us are excited at the thoughts of seeing friends, family and others outside of the setting of our back gardens! While this is something to look forward to, it’s also very understandable that you may also be feeling anxious – and even confused as to why you’re feeling anxious - but you’re not alone in feeling this. More people than you think are feeling the same as this is a massive social and emotional re-adjustment.
Just as it was a challenge to adjust to living in a restricted lockdown, going back to normal may bring the same challenges. New rules we have become accustomed to during lockdown such as the compulsory wearing of masks and maintaining a social distance are still going to be ingrained in us and may still be in effect in the early stages of restrictions being eased. Because of this, you may feel yourself becoming anxious while shopping for example when people are no longer required to social distance – perhaps you feel they’re coming too close to you, or you might become uncomfortable because someone isn’t wearing a mask. These scenarios could potentially make someone feel anxious because for a year, we have been told to do the exact opposite! So, if at first you still feel anxious, remain shopping with your mask on and adhere to social distancing measures until you feel comfortable to be closer to people again.
Although it may not seem like it as you see countless friends and family members attending outdoor brunches, pub dates or picnics, there is no rush and certainly, no need for you to feel pressured into doing things at the same pace as everyone else. The most important thing is to be patient with yourself and understand you’re adjusting again, and just as you did before for in lockdown, you’ll find that you can do it again! Everyone can and should enjoy the easing of Lockdown at their own pace - this is meant to be an enjoyable time.
A huge part of lockdown easing up for some of us is socialising face to face again! With pubs and restaurants opening up again, they’re a great place to socialise with friends and family. However, it is also important we recognise that we may be feeling anxious about reaching out again. We have all probably got quite used to our own company during the lockdown and it may be a bit uncomfortable and unfamiliar arranging plans with others – as with many things over the last year, something that was fairly simple and a common occurrence can now seem daunting and strange. An important thing to remember if you are anxious about reaching out to friends you may have (very understandably and normally) distanced from or lost contact with over lockdown, is that they are probably feeling just as anxious and nervous as you and will most likely be happy to hear from you.
Similarly, it’s also important to acknowledge that you or some of your friends may not feel comfortable meeting physically or in busy public spaces yet. It’s important to understand that everyone is going at their own pace with this new adjustment. Try to make a plan that everyone can attend and that includes everyone with their specific boundaries and accessibility needs in mind. For example, if you know your friend isn’t comfortable meeting in an outdoors pub or restaurant where there may be lots of people, consider suggesting a socially distant picnic in the park. Or if your friend is worried about using public transport, see if you can arrange to meet somewhere closer to them or arrange an evening on facetime. Being aware and considerate of everyone’s boundaries is vital when making the new transition out of lockdown.
Just as we all adjusted differently to lockdown we are also bound to adapt differently as lockdown starts to lift. The most important thing is to be patient with ourselves and others
and remember we adjusted before and we can adjust again! We are all in this together.