It might seem strange – we have all been desperately wishing for lockdown to end, and now that this stay-at-home order is ending, we are feeling worried all over again.
It’s entirely normal to feel anxious about another new change to our way of life. At times of stress, we use our daily routines as a way to provide structure and meaning.
This guide will provide you with the tips you need to manage your anxiety after the lockdown. For the most up-to-date advice on coronavirus rules, use the official Gov.uk page for advice.
Understanding your emotions
The coronavirus pandemic is a once-in-a-generation event and there is no right or wrong way to react to it. Many of the most common feelings during the first and second lockdowns include:
- Anxiety, fear, or stress
- Hopelessness about the future
- Anger or frustration
- Grief, loss, or mourning
- Apathy, powerlessness, or disassociation
- Unsupported or uncared for
No matter your feelings, all of them are valid. Nobody was expecting their lives to be disrupted in such a drastic way, and it’s natural to feel a wide range of emotions at different points.
Think about everything that you have lost because of COVID-19: regularly seeing family and friends, celebratory events being cancelled, and being ordered to stay at home for long periods of time.
Some people have tragically lost loved ones, and in the absence of normal funeral procedures, a new phenomena has emerged where people can’t even grieve properly or share in the normal sense of communal loss.
Even though lockdown is ending, it’s clear that coronavirus will still be with us for a long time yet. It’s incredibly heartening to see the difference that vaccines are making to protect the most vulnerable, but ‘normal life’ as we know it is not likely to resume for some time.
With this in mind, mental health practitioners and experts state that one of the best ways to understand your emotions is to write them down or discuss them with a trusted friend or family member.
When we suddenly encounter a lot of strong emotions, we can easily become overwhelmed and struggle to identify the root causes of our issues. Understanding each emotion is key to accepting and managing your feelings.
Remember that it’s fine to feel upset one day, and happy the next. You can feel frustrated in the morning and then feel anxious in the evening, but calm after that. While it may feel unsettling to feel so many different emotions, just remind yourself that this is normal.
Your feelings are valid, and they are normal. Give yourself the time and space to accept that you are living through a very stressful period and it’s natural to feel many things at once.
Managing your feelings effectively
Acceptance is one way to manage your feelings effectively. Telling yourself in no uncertain terms that it’s okay to feel any way that’s natural to you.
Try to ‘lean into’ your feelings and accept how uncomfortable it is. Our natural instincts are to push away from negative feelings and try to force ourselves to feel happy. But this can
be cause even more distress.
So how can we manage our feelings effectively? Below are some tips on managing anxiety or any feelings you might have coming out of lockdown:
- Get in touch with specialist organisations who can help with a range of mental and physical wellbeing supports
- Reach out to your trusted support network of family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, or members of your community to discuss your feelings
- Give yourself the opportunity to try new things that bring you joy, including creative expression, writing, baking, or exercising
- Don’t read too much news or go on social media if you find that it results in low mood and unhappiness: you don’t need to absorb all the bad news, just the essential parts
- Be kind to yourself and do the things that bring you happiness. Whether that’s taking a long bath or buying some comfort food, sometimes you just need to get through the day, no matter how hard it might seem
- Keep a gratitude or thankfulness diary to actively remind yourself of all the positives in your life. Experts say that this is a great way to maintain good mental health
- Remind yourself that there are some things you can control, and some things that are beyond your control
- Limit your alcohol consumption (where relevant) as it can be addictive and will often cause your mood to worsen. This is especially important if you’re meeting people in an alcoholic setting
- Try to get as much sleep as is possible for you – a regular routine will ensure that you keep a sense of normality and will help you regulate your emotions better
- Make plans to meet people (safely) in places that you know won’t cause you any extra stress or anxiety. Plan ahead of time and give yourself plenty of time to get there. It may feel scary being outside again, but as long you follow the guidelines, you should be fine
- Maintain good pandemic behaviours, including social distancing, wearing a mask, and washing your hands well
Follow accurate information for news
Keep yourself informed and up to date with the information you need to know. For example, who you can meet with, where, how many people, etc., is all important information.
However, avoid reading or sharing unsubstantiated reports on social media that haven’t been fact-checked by official sources.
Use trusted websites (like the BBC) for news on other events. Always make sure to critically read any online content before accepting it as fact.
Come to terms with the ‘new normal’
Nobody asked for the coronavirus to come and disrupt our lives, but we have to accept that it did, and it has.
Psychologists say that the cognitive stretch in our minds between our expectations and our reality can cause major internal distress. It is ultimately healthier to manage our expectations and accept reality, no matter how imperfect as it is.
Unfortunately, that means coming to terms with the fact that our lives might not be the same as they were before, and that it will be a long time before we go back to the way things were.
It’s likely that you’ve found some positives and some negatives coming out of the coronavirus pandemic. Rejoice in the positives and the new things that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.
But give yourself the time and space you need to reflect on the negatives, and to grieve for everything that has been lost.
One of the best things you can do to reduce anxiety coming out of lockdown is to keep communicating as much as possible with your friends and family. Keep in contact with people who might be struggling on their own, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
At Burning Nights CRPS, we are always on hand to provide support, health, and information and connect you with a fantastic community. Why not join one of our monthly virtual support groups? We have 3 different groups available – our main CRPS group, a young person’s support group for those aged 18 years or younger and our loved ones and caregivers support group.
We also have a Befriending service that may help you to manage your anxiety. This is a once a week phone call or video call with one of our volunteers. Learn more here.
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, and if this article has helped you, we’d love for you to share it on your favourite social media platform.