Not feeling like rushing straight out to Primark or the pub? Don't worry, you're not alone.
After what feels like an endless stint of lockdown (but in reality has been around 4 months), there are finally signs that the restrictions in the UK are starting to ease. From 12th April, you can officially visit your local clothes shops, get your hair trimmed or attempt to burn off that Easter chocolate in a gym. Pubs and restaurants can open outdoor areas and alcohol can be served again.However, with all the buzz around these changes and the floods of Instagram posts of pub gardens, you may start to feel something unexpected- anxiety. Or more specifically, post lockdown anxiety.
What is post lockdown anxiety?
We are now living in a world filled with constant change around what is and isn't acceptable. Every person you meet will have a different expectation of how we should be behaving, and this in itself creates a huge amount of pressure. Not to mention the never ending stream of statistics on the news and the fact that we have become so accustomed to communicating primarily through Zoom or Facetime! While it is totally natural for all of these factors to cause levels of stress and anxiety, there are some ways to deal with them!
These are my top tips for fighting the post lockdown anxiety:
1) Avoid the Start
It is going to be BUSY in shops and restaurants for the first few days! If you are feeling anxious, don't put any pressure on yourself to get straight out there. Give the first week or so a skip, and let the crowds die down a little.
2) One Step at a Time
Take it one step at a time! Start by heading to locations that you know are likely to be a bit quieter (eg, avoid Primark and Weatherspoons for the next 17 months) and see how you feel there. If you find it okay, head to somewhere slightly more crowded for your next trip.
3) Use Soothing Techniques
If you are out in public and begin to feel overwhelmed, try soothing techniques to calm yourself down. For example, try regulating your breathing and concentrating on breathing slowly in and out. Grounding is also a great method- close your eyes for a moment and focus on grounding yourself into the moment and exactly where you are.
4) Set Your Own Boundaries
Like I said previously, everyone will have different ideas about what is 'okay' during this time. You may have a friend who feels totally fine to jump back into socialising, and wants you to come around to their place with a group of different people. Be assertive in setting your own boundaries, and don't let anyone make you feel bad. You only have to answer to you.
5) Go At Your Own Pace
Just because the government has officially said we can socialise with more people and visit pubs and shops, doesn't automatially mean you will feel safe and happy. If it feels too soon for you, don't put any pressure on yourself. Remember that your happiness and health is the number one priority.
6) Be Kind to Yourself (And Others!)
This year has been exceptionally challenging. The circumstances have been totally unprecedented and it's important to remember that there is no set guide about how you 'should' respond. Be kind to yourself and be kind to others.