As lockdown restrictions ease, there are plenty of people who are ready to re-group with loved ones and catch up on all the celebrations that had to be put on hold. For others, the thought of this, or even just stepping outside, brings nothing but anxiety – a return to feelings they’ve perhaps had respite from or for many, a new set of feelings that are becoming more real and very scary.
It’s understandable. For a year we’ve been dealing with uncertainty, the unknown, constant change, lack of purpose, fear, loss, worry, hardship… and this is likely to continue for some time as we adjust to a more normal way of life. Here’s a few tips to help us remember what’s important and show compassion for ourselves and others as we find our way through the transition.
Mindful tips for coping with post-lockdown anxiety
- Acknowledge your feelings – it’s OK not to be OK – for whatever reason. Be kind to yourself and take it one step at a time. We all respond differently, so it’s important to focus on your experience and not compare yourself to others or judge your feelings harshly.
- Watch your thoughts – it’s easy to get carried away by negative thoughts and ‘what ifs’ and this can lead to greater feelings of anxiety. Try to be aware of this happening. Ask yourself if your thoughts are based on fact and whether they’re helpful to you. Try to focus on the things you can control and work out how you can respond to the things you can’t control.
- Talk it through – it can be hard to see clearly when we’re feeling anxious so it’s good to share your thoughts and concerns with others. That could be a friend, a support group and also your employer. If your concerns are centred around returning to work, your employer might be able to find ways of adapting your working arrangements to ease the transition back to work.
- Take it steady – consider what you feel comfortable with and develop a personal action plan. If you’ve been largely housebound, start getting out slowly. Go for a walk, visit friends where you feel comfortable, go to a local shop instead of a big supermarket, drive or cycle instead of using public transport. If you can, consider working part-time or splitting your time between home working and your normal place of work.
- Focus on the positives – don’t forget to celebrate your successes and the good things that are happening, however small they might be. A journal is a great way to record these and if you do have a challenging day, it’s good to look back to previous days to remind yourself how far you’ve come. Also, try to do something you enjoy each day or make everyday activities more enjoyable such as listening to music while doing chores.
- Find your feet – or your breath. If you do start to feel anxious, try to switch your focus to something physical like your feet on the ground or your breath or even a small object in your pocket. This will help to reduce the anxious feelings and bring a sense of calm.
Regularly practicing mindfulness can really help you to manage anxiety on a day-to-day basis. Get in touch if you’d like to know more.
With love and kindness