GETTING BACK TO LIFE AFTER LOCKDOWN
With so many of us having spent so much time indoors over the past few months, the thought of returning to some kind of normality can be a further cause for concern rather than something to be celebrated. As more and more people return to their ‘usual’ existence, there will inevitably be increasing demand on all of us to ‘get out’ more, whether this be socially or for work. But what if you are one of those people still feeling high levels of anxiety, either about the continued existence of Covid 19, or anxiety about returning to ‘normal’ life? Here are some tips which might help:
Get planning! By taking a proactive approach, you can gain a semblance of control over events and are less likely to be overwhelmed. This includes places to go, people to see and things to do. All the while being mindful of ‘HANDS ??" FACE ??" SPACE’, of course!
Start small. Perhaps a huge dinner party or a trip to the Natural History Museum during school holidays isn’t the best way to begin your reacquaintance with society! Begin small, no matter how small. Make tiny increments and build up slowly and at your own pace. Even a five minute walk is progress if you’ve been indoors.
Get out into nature. There has been much written already about the therapeutic benefits of being in nature. It is also often the case that natural spaces are less crowded than human environments, which in itself can help to reduce anxiety. Whatever natural spaces you have around you, use them to ease you back into the outside world.
Don’t endure, enjoy! Make a concerted effort to return to society by doing as many of the things you enjoy as you possibly can. Your mind will soon be on the pleasure you feel and that, in turn, will help make the more anxious aspects seem less threatening. Of course, there are always things we ‘must’ do, but tip the balance in your own favour as much as you possibly can!
Don’t feel pressured into doing anything you don’t feel you must. Remember that we are each different, with our own anxieties, our own tolerances and our own coping mechanisms. Someone might pressure you, but only you can allow yourself to ‘feel’ pressured. If you sense you are being pressured then make alternative suggestions, or agree to the other person’s plans but at a much later date that allows you time to build-up your confidence. Always remember the power of ‘No’!
Some people find it extremely useful to keep a measure of their own anxiety. Create a scale, perhaps numerical or even a range of faces from deeply unhappy to joyous. Each time you go out, gauge your emotions and make a record of them. You’re not looking for smiley faces first time or all the time, but instead you’re looking for progression as you ease yourself back into society.
And finally, remember never to unfairly compare yourself with others. You’re not alone in how you feel. Others might look fine on the outside but will share many of your own anxieties on the inside.
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