How are you feeling as restrictions ease again?

Are you having feelings of anxiety?

We are on the road to Lockdown restrictions easing again, after what seems like an age.

With it comes tentative optimism and apprehensive excitement.
How are you feeling?

Though the government have given us a ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown, which is what most of us want, many people are also feeling wary and anxious.


If you are feeling anxious, here is some advice and reassurance for you, further to my talk with Pat Marsh on BBC Radio Kent.

We have had lots of changes and uncertainty to accustom ourselves to and the energy we have used to adapt and maintain these changes, and the feeling for many of ‘Groundhog Day’ has taken its toll and caused a sense of fatigue.

For people with Social phobia or anxiety (anxiety of being in group situations, meeting someone new or going to a new place) Lockdown in some respects, has ended up being a safety net, taking away the expectation and pressure to be around others.

Several Mental Health Charities have reported that for people suffering with anxiety or social phobia, the easing of restrictions has caused their anxiety levels to soar.

Many people are suffering feelings of anxiety for the first time

For many people who have not previously suffered with anxiety, alongside the excitement and need to be around others and hugs, there is also anxiety about being in groups of people. Many report the feeling of wanting to hang back and be cautious with their family and friends, even though the guidelines have been set out.

For some it really has been such a hard, tragic & emotional time and along with the need to grieve properly and see family, understandably though there is also an overwhelming anxiety at the thought of another Lockdown, if our easing of restrictions has a negative effect.

We all know, that regardless of our individual situations, we have a collective responsibility to look after each other, whilst making sure we are OK.

Do be reassured that the guideline set out by the government are gradual and being monitored along the way.

Advice:

Work related

·       For Employers and Employees, there is much advice to manage the easing back to work and being Covid safe. It is a worrying time for businesses, the workforce and customers, so working together will be safer for all.

·       If you are feeling particularly worried about protecting your staff – the Government Health and Safety Executive website has clear guidelines to help you.

·       If you are due to return to work and are feeling particularly anxious – speak to your employer and maybe you can do a phased return into the workplace – depending on your role. At the moment, working from home is still the preferred option if you are able to

Stay connected

Do try to stay connected – reach out to others. Speak to people about how you are feeling. It is OK to be feeling anxious and more people than you may realise feel this way, so they will be being cautious too.

·       Many people, especially teens and young adults are feeling like they have lost their connection with friends in particular, during the last year. Reach out and say Hi.

From the 29th March (England) you can meet up to 6 people outdoors in a garden or public space. As Spring unfolds the weather will be warming up too, so it is something to look forward to.

Have I done enough? Do I look OK?

·       Other worries are things like; ‘have I accomplished enough during lockdown’ ‘what if I don’t look so good?’ Most people definitely have a Lockdown hair style! Please do not compare your individual experience to that of another person’s. You may it is actually a good way to break the ice and share stories.

You have accomplished more than you think!

Think about, and even write down, all you have achieved from small things like learning to cook something new, to surviving home-schooling and finishing off something for when you had the time!

Do things at your own pace

·       Doing things at your own pace, as much as is possible, is a good idea. Take your time with getting out their again. Please do not feel that others will be upset with you, because most people do understand. You can keep numbers of people that you meet in a group smaller than advised until you feel more comfortable – it is OK.

Helping others helps you too

·       It is worth noting that stress levels will be higher for a lot of people, so be as kind and understanding as you can – helping someone else and easing their anxiety helps you feel better too.

·       Feelings of anxiety are usually all the ‘what if’s’ of something going wrong in the future or thinking about something that happened before. Focus on the things you can control and try to keep yourself in the present moment or situation you are dealing with right now. To take those initial steps back into a more social environment are important, even though it may feel safer to stay home.

Map Apps show you the busiest times for stores, which can help you pick a quieter time.

If going back to work, it could be helpful to do the journey beforehand as a dummy run, at a relaxed pace, to put you at ease.

Controlling anxiety levels

·       Breathe – what we call ‘box breathing’ is great and easy to do. Breathe in slow and steady to the count of 4, hold for 4, breathe out for 4, hold for 4. You will only need to do this for two or three rounds – then tell yourself ‘I’m OK’ ‘I’ve got this’

·       Tap or rub under your collarbone, one or both sides if you feel your anxiety levels rising – take a slow breath and think of someone or something that makes you smile, or a calming colour all around you. You can do this quite subtly – like when standing in a que or before going into work, same for the box breathing too.

·       Stay hydrated, eat a good diet and give yourself time for a restful sleep, by having a good winddown routine before bed.

·       Try writing down any worries before sleep and then ripping them up, practice writing down 3 good things from your day in a notebook – anything that made you smile or feel good. It can also help to write down 2 or 3 things you are going to do the next day too – this alleviates anxiety from your mind and allows you to sleep better.

Better than you think

You really have done better than you may be giving yourself credit for. The vaccine rollout has been a success so far and we are incredibly lucky to have it, even though some people have concerns – this is a natural process for anything new.

Moving Forward

Time now to take those tentative steps and look forward.

Warmest regards

Andrea Barker

‘Kent’s Confidence Coach’