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PYB Health

How to cope with anxiety as we slowly ease out of lockdown.

By PYB Health
Friday, July 24, 2020

It is ok to go slowAs the Welsh government start to relax the rules on lockdown many people may be wondering what is and isn’t safe to do under the current guidelines.

The official advice on staying safe (as of 22/07/20) is to:

• always observe social distancing

• wash your hands regularly

• if you meet another household, outside your extended household, stay outdoors

• work from home if you can

Stay at home if you or anyone in your extended household has symptoms.

However this doesn’t answer the doubts we may have in the many situations we may find ourselves in over the coming weeks. Many people will feel anxious about returning to shops, meeting family again, going back to work, catching up with friends.

It is normal to feel anxious

Feeling anxious frightened or even both is perfectly normal and is a common emotional response for a lot of people as we slowly ease ourselves out from lockdown. Getting through lockdown has been tough and will have taken a lot of emotional energy. We have had to find ways to cope and have adjusted to being in a place that feels safe so it is understandable that we may not feel ready to leave this behind just yet.

The more we interact the more the risk increases of becoming ill with the virus or passing infection on to loved ones, this is a very real fear and it is an entirely normal response to be worried, but risk can be reduced by following the guidelines.

The changes can feel scary

Every time we introduce something back into our lives it is going to feel unusual or even scary.

Suddenly the way we do everything that was once second nature before the pandemic such as popping to the shops, grabbing a coffee, socialising etc. now has to be thought about in more detail and almost re-learnt.

That may be because we haven’t done it in a while, and we’ve forgotten how it feels – like going to work or it might be because routines have changed – like one-way systems and queues to enter shops.

It’s important to acknowledge that these feelings are reasonable, and to expect them. It’s only by building up tolerance gently that we can move through these fears.

Anger & Frustration

It is also quite normal to feel angry or frustrated at the behaviour of others and it is very easy to rush to judgment. However making comments on social media that reflect our anxiety will not help and can quite quickly lead to unpleasantness. It’s important to bear in mind that you can’t control other people’s behaviour, and that commenting online is unlikely to help. The best way to deal with your anger is to express your frustration quickly and privately with someone you trust, and then let it go. If we hold on to things we can get pulled into rumination – where we chew over things in our heads.

It is OK to go slow - it is not a race

If possible, take things at your own pace and remember it is not a race. People around you will all be getting back to normal at their own pace and as and when they feel comfortable to do so, there are no right and wrong ways; we are all different, we all have different circumstances and we are all making decisions based on our own personal situations. Do not judge and try to have compassion and be kind to others but equally be kind to yourself and do what is right for you. If you find it overwhelming or are feeling anxious then just take one step at a time. Try and challenge yourself to try something different each day or every couple of days. It’s very easy to allow the seclusion that was necessary in lockdown to become deliberate isolation as lockdown ends.

Sensory Overload

For many people lockdown has been relatively quiet and isolated. Coming back into shops, traffic, transport, and work might lead to sensory overload – feeling overwhelmed by sights, sounds or smells. Headphones may be a good way to reduce some of this by helping you to focus and creating a distraction with calls, music, podcasts or audiobooks.

Tips to cope with feeling anxious

• Take control - With so many things that we have no control over that cause fear and anxiety try to concentrate on the things that are within your control by making a plan.

• Remember that it’s ok to go slow and that you don't have to socialise if you don't feel ready to yet.

• Reconnect with friends safely, outside your home and as rules allow.

• Challenge yourself – build up tolerance to new situations by challenging yourself to try something new

• Mix up your routines - try shopping at different times or at smaller shops if the large supermarkets make you feel uncomfortable.

• Talk about your fears with family, friends or work colleagues.

 

THINGS TO REMEMBER

You cannot always prevent anxiety, but there is lots you can do to manage it! Children can suffer from stress and anxiety just like adults, so keep an eye on your child. Learn more about anxiety in children here.

LOCAL SUPPORT

Grapevines Bridgend provide information on services that have been set up to provide help for people with mental health or emotional problems.

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