The government’s decision to end lockdown restrictions and get society back to ‘normal’ has been a difficult time for many. Lots of us have spent time at home isolating and may not have seen many of our loved ones for well over a year, yet the idea of socialising again could lead to feelings of stress and anxiety. It is completely normal to experience a range of emotions and feel conflicted following the end of lockdown. Although you may be enjoying some elements of normal life, other things that were part of your lifestyle before, may now feel overwhelming or anxiety provoking. Everyone is doing things at a different pace, but here are a few top tips from the TALKWORKS team to help you if you have been struggling with the transition:
Everyone has had difference experiences over the pandemic, but we can all agree it has been a huge challenge in one way or another. Sometimes we can be hard on ourselves for feeling a certain way, which adds to the cycle of feeling anxious or unsure. Whatever you are feeling, it’s okay to feel like that – try and imagine what you may say to a friend who has admitted they are finding things hard, and treat yourself with the same compassion.
You may want to avoid certain situations that feel overwhelming or anxiety-provoking, but if you keep doing this, your anxiety will not go away. This can actually make things worse rather than better in the long-term. The best way to overcome difficult situations that are making you anxious is to face them – but it’s important to do this gradually. Start with something that might feel a little uncomfortable, but not too scary. For example, if you want to work towards meeting a group of friends, start by meeting just one, in a place that isn’t too busy, and build up your confidence from there.
When we feel anxious, we can often get caught up with worrying. This is often in the form of ‘what if’ worries - about things that are in the future that haven’t happened. It can be hard not to worry when things feel uncertain, especially given how much has changed following the end of lockdown restrictions. If you are feeling anxious, take a few moments to focus on your breathing or what’s around you, to avoid getting stuck in a cycle of worry. TALKWORKS offer a free workshop which introduces you to Mindfulness techniques to help you manage stress, low mood or anxiety related issues. All of our workshops are free to attend and available to book by calling 0300 555 3344.
The likelihood is that someone else around has also experienced worries or anxiety since the end of lockdown restrictions. It might be that by opening up, you and a friend or family member, can share your concerns and support each other with the next step. Although many offices are re-opening and employees are returning to work, a lot of businesses are being more flexible. It is important to speak to someone at work you can trust, or, speak to an impartial service for advice, such as the Citizen’s Advice Bureau if you are struggling.
The tips listed above may be helpful, but you may feel that you need some extra guidance to put them into practice, or, something else associated with going back to ‘normal’ might be causing you difficulties.
If you are struggling, and it is affecting your daily life, it could be helpful to talk to a qualified professional about what you’re going through. TALKWORKS is a free, confidential, NHS service, dedicated to helping people (aged 18+) in Devon (excluding Plymouth) to feel better, by providing tools and techniques to improve mental and physical wellbeing.
A range of approaches and talking therapies are available, as well as a variety of online workshops, including how to manage sleeping difficulties, wellbeing in parenthood, managing stress, managing long-term physical health conditions and an introduction to Mindfulness.