Post-Lockdown Anxiety: How to ease “back-to-normal” nerves
August 9th, 2021 at 7:13 am
The pandemic has impacted us all in various ways, and its effects on our mental health and well-being truly cannot be ignored. With continuous lockdowns being imposed, economic and social disruptions weigh heavily on our minds, while various other factors make us hesitant about the future. Many of us have experienced at least one pandemic-induced mental health state or condition, such as languishing, compassion fatigue, and financial anxiety.
As the lockdowns prolonged, many of us grew accustomed to working from home, and the isolation that comes with being in lockdown. As restrictions now begin to ease thanks to increased vaccination rates, a post-lockdown life is increasingly in sight. Understandably, this may be anxiety-inducing for some of us, as we leave the safety and comfort of our bubbles and start interacting face-to-face again with society.
As more people begin sharing their concerns about re-entry into a post-lockdown world, mental health specialists and bodies have found a description for this state of mind – ‘post-lockdown anxiety’ – characterised by a feeling of anxiousness about the lifting of restrictions and what may come with it, such as the pressures of socialising, going to busy and crowded public spaces, and even returning to the office workplace after getting used to working from home.
But there are ways to cope with this readjustment as we make our way into a post lockdown world:
Take it one step at a time, and be kind to yourself.
If you feel overwhelmed by your post lockdown to-do list, or find yourself struggling more than usual on some tasks, try to trim down the tasks set for a day, or even to one task a day. Stepping into the ‘new’ routine of things, or more aptly, the new normal, could be daunting but know that we can ultimately readjust in our own time and in our own ways. Starting small – such as running an errand with a friend – and building back up, will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed. Even if it does not go as ideally as you planned at first, you can always try again the following day. Pacing ourselves and focusing on gradual re-entry also helps prevent burnout later on as it allows our mind and body to catch up with the sudden change in routine.
If things get too overwhelming, try some grounding techniques.
As much as we try to fight it, sometimes things may still overwhelm us, and that’s okay. If and when this moment does occur, try to focus on your breathing and on your five senses – this a common self-soothing technique that may help during an oncoming anxiety or panic attack, if we find ourselves in that headspace. This method of grounding ourselves can be done through breathing exercises, or focusing on five things you can touch, see, hear, taste and smell – carrying a small roller case of your favourite essential oil or calming scent on you can help with this when out and about. Aside from this, practising positive affirmations that you personally resonate with may also help calm a troubled mind during bouts of anxiety, and aids in cultivating resilience through our ability to rebound after challenges.
Prioritise ‘me time’ and maintain healthy habits.
If you have found yourself a new hobby or two during the lockdowns, such as baking or journaling, or even if it’s just as simple as your nightly skincare routine, try to make time for it and continue with these activities in your post-lockdown routine. This will provide a sense of familiarity to your mind and body, and will help you de-stress and decompress after a long or challenging day. If you’ve picked up healthier habits during the lockdown such as working out more regularly, eating cleaner, taking meaningful breaks in nature, or even connecting with loved ones more often, these would be especially important to hold on to post-pandemic. Maintaining or even kick-starting such healthier habits from now serves as powerful psychological motivation and will help us to better adapt.
If it is still too much to handle, seek help or reach out to loved ones.
If your post-lockdown anxiety persists or severely impacts you to the point of disrupting your overall physical health and mental well-being, do seek help from a mental health expert, and reach out for support from those around you. Mental health professionals are equipped with the tools and resources to provide you the help and emotional support you may need to feel better and treat any mental health concerns.
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