The gradual easing of lockdown restrictions can bring much-longed-for opportunities to see our friends and family, be able to walk around and hang out at the park, or pop back into the office.
It gives us a bit of that ‘normal’ we’ve so desperately been craving. But for many, the easing of lockdown and social distancing restrictions is giving them a wave of unease, an emerging phenomenon that mental health experts are noticing: Anxiety about life after lockdown.
People who live with anxiety are prone to overthinking stepping back out into the world. The lifting of lockdown restrictions come with a lot of things, for many of us, even small and happy changes can mean nerves and agitation. And with the discussion still ongoing about the science behind many of the things we fear, even the semblance of normal that we’ve been craving can mean nothing compared to the worry that comes with it.
When the lockdown started, it was all uncertainties, one after the other. But just as you were able to bravely get through that, trust that the wave of uncertainties that the end of lockdown would be bringing forth will be something that you’ll be able to get through as well.
It took us time to find ways to cope during the lockdown, coming out of it should be no different. Expect that you will take time to find your way back into the “old normal”.
Just as they were crucial during the beginning of lockdown, eating well, staying connected, finding healthy routines, and doing regular exercise are just as important (if not more so) now that we’re gearing up to step back out into the world.
We might all be going through the same pandemic, but always remember that we’re not all going through it in the same way. Your situation is unique to you, so don’t judge yourself based on what others are doing. The best thing you can do is face your own challenges and move through them the best way that you can.
Coping with fear and anxiety after lockdown
Fear and anxiety might be the most common emotional response to the easing of lockdown restrictions. Going into lockdown, we had to power through finding ways to cope. In the process, we may have found or created safe spaces that we’re not quite ready to leave yet as the distancing restrictions are lifted.
Another obvious reason the easing of lockdown restrictions can bring dread is the fear that we might catch the virus and pass it off onto one of our friends or loved ones, and the more you interact with people, the higher the chances become. This response is also normal, and the risks of catching the virus and passing it can be greatly reduced by following guidelines.
It’s important to acknowledge that these reactions and responses are normal. The only way to move through these fears is by gently building up tolerance towards them.
For many of us, the coronavirus pandemic has heightened our anxiety or has made other mental health issues worse. Adjusting back into things might take a while, and adjusting to new sets of rules and guidelines might take even longer. If possible, take things at your own pace. But also remember that there’s nothing wrong with challenging yourself to try something new or overcoming something each day.
The lockdown has created a quiet space for many of us and going back into the hustle and bustle of the outside world might lead to a bit of a sensory overload and could take a bit of getting used to. Headphones could help with this by creating distractions with music, podcasts, and even calls.
How to pick up our social lives after lockdown
Moving out of lockdown might mean the possibility of being able to pick our social lives back up, albeit with lots of new guidelines and changes. Some of us couldn’t wait to be able to see our friends again, while there are others who are understandably nervous about doing so or might not even be able to given their situation.
If you’re part of a social group where some members won’t be able to rejoin group outings and activities just yet, make sure you still find ways to include them.
As earlier mentioned, there might be some of us who fell into comfortable quietness during the lockdown, and we might need to step outside of the old comfort zone in order to overcome initial awkwardness to reconnect and re-engage with people.
Many of the things that we’re all about to face will be new to us. It could be insisting on social distancing restrictions among friends and family, remembering when and where to wear a mask, not stopping by for a chat when you see a friend at the grocery, and so on. All we could do as we’re collectively trying to find the right footing is to do our best at following guidelines, being understanding, and being kind.
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