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Coming out of lockdown

By Sian Charman

Many anxiety sufferers found solace when Covid-19 reared its head at the beginning of 2020. Lockdown gave them permission to stay home, and to say “no” to the things that they find difficult.

Similarly, many people who had never suffered with anxiety before found themselves experiencing feelings of nervousness and dread when it came to leaving the safety of their house.

As businesses open again, the ‘rule of six’ comes into play, and we begin to ease our way back to ‘normal’, many people may struggle to understand how they are feeling. They may feel nervous about gathering in larger groups again, or about knowing that they no longer have lockdown to hide behind to say “no” to plans.

It is understandable that you may feel anxious about the easing of restrictions, so I’ve put together a small list of tips that you can use to feel better as lockdown ends.

How are you looking after yourself?

Are you allowing yourself time to do the things you enjoy?

When my clients are feeling anxious, I tell them to concentrate on their 5 senses. This is an effective grounding mechanism that can help connect them with the ‘present’.

The client starts by asking themselves 5 questions:

This might sound a little unusual but, when we imagine our favourite things, we trigger warm feelings that can improve our mood drastically. Maria von Trapp wasn’t lying!

Our brains have the power to change our day completely and we need to look after them. By allowing ourselves to think of positive things, we can nurture our minds and, in turn, calm our bodies.

When feelings of panic creep in, I use this method in a different way by telling my clients to ask themselves how their senses are working right now:

Setting small goals

As we are expected to return to ‘normal’, it is easy to feel overwhelmed.

Allow yourself to understand how you feel, and do not rush yourself. If you see other people going out immediately but you don’t feel ready yet, don’t force yourself.

Why don’t you try setting yourself some small, more achievable goals?

If going outside feels a bit too much, walk up to your front door and hold onto the lock instead. The next day, walk up to your front door and open it. Feel the fresh air on your face. You don’t need to step outside. Gradually, step by step, make your way further away from your home but only as far as you feel comfortable traveling.

Never set yourself up to fail. Setting yourself challenges can be very rewarding but, when you experience anxiety, it is important to go at your own pace and not overstretch yourself.

Be honest

Many people suffer from anxiety too yet we have no idea. By being honest with those around you about how you are feeling, you can start conversations and feel less alone by knowing that you are not the only one experiencing anxiety during this difficult time.