As various lockdown measures start to lift across the UK, we’re seeing increased reports of a new kind of anxiety: ‘post-lockdown anxiety’ as it was recently dubbed by the mental-health charity Anxiety UK. “[It’s] the fear or worry of returning to normal life and leaving lockdown”.
The impact of COVID-19 over the past year has increased loneliness and anxiety about the safety of loved ones and ourselves. We also now have new fears and anxieties over social distancing, getting ill and uncertainty about the future. Anxieties can range from a worry about being in public spaces to a fear of leaving the house in general.
While many people are looking forward to seeing family and friends and getting back to activities that they have missed over the last year, many people are also finding the idea of returning to old routines or doing things that they haven’t done in a while to be stressful and anxiety provoking.
What Should You Do If You Have Post-Lockdown Anxiety?
Firstly, it can be helpful to remember that it’s up to you what your transition from lockdown looks like. Sometimes small, gradual adjustments can be easier to adapt to than large, sudden changes. You can add activities and habits back into your routine at a pace that feels comfortable for you. Create a routine that is realistic and set out intentions for each day that are achievable.
One tip is to write down a list of all of the activities that you will be re-introducing back into your life and to then grade them into a hierarchy from the easiest (i.e. least anxiety provoking) to the most challenging (i.e. most anxiety provoking). Start working up the list from the easiest activities so that you can build your confidence and anxiety management skills gradually over time.
Secondly, bringing self-awareness to how you are feeling on a daily basis is very important when understanding the extent to which post-lockdown anxiety might be affecting you. If stress and anxiety are left untreated for a long period of time, it can start to impact other areas and quality of life. It can affect your work, relationships and health.
Try to recognise whether you have any symptoms of anxiety. Ask yourself every morning (or write in a journal) “How am I feeling?”; “What’s my energy level like today?”; “Is there anything that I am avoiding doing or thinking about?”. If you constantly feel the answer is low mood, irritable, worried, anxiety, avoidance, tired all the time etc., you need to seek help. Speak to your GP or another healthcare professional.
For more information about post-lockdown anxiety or treatment options for anxiety at the Fitzrovia Psychology Clinic, please contact us firstname.lastname@example.org.