Tuesday 4 August 2020

Into the Unknown: Tips for Coping with Post-Lockdown Anxiety

Caroline shares her tips for dealing with life after lockdown.
- Caroline

With lockdown restrictions slowly easing across most parts of the UK, many of us are relishing the opportunity to return to shops, pubs and restaurants, as well as a chance to reconnect (albeit at a distance) with friends and family. For others, myself included, adjusting to this strange ‘new normal’ hasn’t been quite so easy. If the idea of returning to life post-lockdown is making you feel stressed or anxious, here are three things to keep in mind:

1. Things might feel strange at first – and that’s okay.

Between wearing a mask (please do it!), navigating one-way systems and queuing outside of shops, it’s abundantly clear that things aren’t the same as they were back in March. This is, of course, a worrying time in all of our lives, and it’s absolutely normal to feel apprehensive or frightened, particularly in public spaces. Indeed, the thought of trading the calm and comfort of our bedrooms for the socially-distanced bustle of the local high street could quite understandably leave us feeling overwhelmed. To combat this kind of emotional overload, try bringing along a couple of ‘comfort items’ (such as headphones, or jewellery that can be fidgeted with) to the next place you decide to visit. By grounding just one of your senses in an activity, such as listening to music, you may feel more able to process the situation calmly.

2.  Baby steps are still important steps!

For me, the key to leaving lockdown has been careful and gradual exposure to situations that I know will trigger my anxieties. Rather than leaping headlong out of my comfort zone, I have taken a ‘little and often’ approach to exploring life away from home. Try regularly exposing yourself to new environments in a way that feels challenging, but without pushing yourself to breaking point. Don’t let anybody pressure you into taking too big of a step; in most cases jumping in at the deep end will only perpetuate your anxiety. Instead, by simply going that ‘little bit further’ each time, you will build positive habits without causing yourself unnecessary distress. 

3. You’ve already faced a worldwide pandemic this year – go easy on yourself!

The past few months have tested us all; it can seem like with each new day comes an entirely new set of challenges to overcome. As you begin to adapt to a faster pace and busier social calendar, remember to also take time to recharge. Complete change doesn’t happen overnight, but small progress can. Try to keep track of how far you have come, using a journal to make a note of everything you have accomplished so far. From supermarket shopping to the dreaded visit to the hairdressers, your achievements deserve recognition! 
Keep going - you’ve got this! 

For more resources on managing your mental wellbeing during the Covid-19 pandemic, please go to Student Minds website. You can also find out more information about Student Spacea new collaborative mental health programme to support students during these challenging times led by Student Minds.

I'm Caroline, a final-year student with a passion for starting conversations about mental health! I'm choosing to share my experiences on the blog with the hope of challenging the ongoing stigma surrounding those impacted by mental ill-health. 

1 comment:

  1. I didn't think anything had changed completely in my life until I realized that I was used to keeping my distance and wiping my hands with antiseptic. How has my behavior changed so much in three months? Is that a new norm? Not that it's anything scary, but it takes time to accept it.
    Thank you! A lot of people are worried about the thought of going back to normal, and everyone definitely has something to think about.