With recent announcements about the changes in lockdown since the COVID-19 lockdown originally started, many of us have been feeling anxious. We are bound to worry about further changes such as returning to work, ensuring our kids are safe to go to school, travelling by public transport, visiting public places and many such worries which would have otherwise been a daily routine.
For most of us it can be difficult to cope with such increased uncertainty and swift change. It’s very important to stay informed about how you feel and cope with worry about the future. However, some individuals may struggle with the worry and stress of returning to the new norm.
Anxiety and fear are normal responses and they can be helpful in certain situations. However, when these feelings become frequent and start to affect your daily routine, then you need to seek help.
Symptoms of anxiety can differ from one another. Some of the mental and physical symptoms of anxiety when you might have to return to work or to adapt to the new norm may include having racing uncontrollable thoughts of getting infected, feelings of panic about traveling on public transport, fast heartbeat, wanting to escape the situation while in shopping centres, sleep disturbance due to constant worry for the family, changes in appetite or extreme tiredness or lack of energy.
Whether you have previously experienced anxiety or not, there are several strategies you can use to manage your worries around re-engaging. Remember you can get yourself back into activities outside your home at your own pace.
Here are some tips that you can use to support yourself in order to adjust to the new normal:
- Stay informed of the public health guidelines. Ensure you get up to date information from reliable sources, with any precautions required when you leave your home or are out and about. Stay informed but don’t be too alarmed.
- Take your time. When the lockdown eases it does not mean you have to get back to the way you worked previously. Try simple steps like leaving home on foot and going a bit further than you normally would, or if possible start by attending your place of work for just a few days rather every working day.
- Trust yourself and be compassionate to yourself. Identify what your fears are and challenge those fears so you come to rely on your own rational conclusion when you face your anxiety.
- Create a new routine. Have Zoom lunch with extended family or friends you cannot see, enjoy a walk outdoors, make a beverage when you leave home and stay connected with close ones.
- Plan some self-care “me” time. Keep yourself active by taking small walks, going for a run or riding a bicycle. Try out some mindfulness breathing to help stay calm and relaxed. Check-in with yourself and check how you are feeling.
- Use the APPLE strategy for managing stress:
- Acknowledge – Notice uncertain or unhelpful thoughts.
- Pause – Don’t react immediately, stay with the feeling.
- Pull Back – Remind yourself that you cannot control it straight away, be compassionate.
- Let it go – Refocus your attention to the present and let the thought or feeling pass.
- Explore – Notice things with your senses, what you can see, hear, feel and smell to get back to the present.
Last but not the least ask for help if you need it. If you feel stressed and feel that our anxiety is affecting your daily life, then talk to someone. Don’t feel alone. You might need to speak to a professional to discuss how you can cope with these events.