There are more people in the parks, increased traffic on the roads, garden centres are open again, and for many workers their day-to-day lives have resumed after weeks of lockdown.
For some people the easing of lockdown restrictions has been something to celebrate; a sign of hope that we are making small steps towards normality again.
But for others the idea of stepping out of their front doors in to this new, different world is a source of stress and anxiety.
Coronavirus is still here and spreading among the population, after all. Safety measures and social distancing put in place to protect us from the virus may feel unusual and unsettling.
“Lockdown, which came with many challenges, has become our norm, security for many,” says our member, counsellor Rebecca Vivash.
“Now we’re told that we can venture into the scary outside world, albeit tentatively, to start to get our ‘old life’ back. The thing is, everything looks different now.”
Indira Chima, a counsellor and one of our members, adds: “Now we’re being offered more freedom, it brings a new wave of anxieties for some. The storm is subsiding, but the danger prevails.
“This raises difficult questions about how we are going to live and work and re-engage with the world. “
Indira believes people are feeling conflicted – they're experiencing a mix of feelings of relief and apprehension.
If you’re struggling with these feelings and with anxiety about the ease in lockdown restrictions our members have some advice and strategies to help you.
You can also contact a counsellor or a psychotherapist to speak to online or over the phone through our directory.
Deal with each worry
Indira says that one way of coping might be to deal with each worry that you have.
She adds: “From a work perspective, one way to start doing this would be to find out more info about procedures in the workplace and how you are going to get there? Are they staggering shifts? Are they providing masks? What will workplace conditions be like for you to maintain social distancing.
“If you are worried about shopping for example, then find a shop where you feel more comfortable. For example, it may have wider aisles with less peoples and where you can see supermarket staff taking care to sanitise trolleys. Shop at quieter times of the day, preferably midweek and not weekends.”
Think about what you can and can’t control
"Some of my clients have found it helpful to look at areas of their life that they can and can’t control – most find that the ‘can’ list is longer than the ‘can’t’, which is empowering in itself,” says Rebecca.
She also says that you can take control by thinking of things you have enjoyed doing during lockdown and making sure you continue to do these.
“If you’ve enjoyed additional family time, try timetabling this into your week as a priority. The key here is you have a choice and moving on from lockdown doesn’t mean that all control is taken away," she adds.
Try to create calm feelings
Rebecca recommends that if you’re struggling with anxiety then try to do activities or use strategies that help prompt the opposite feelings and help you feel calmer.
“If you recognise you’re feeling particularly anxious, try having a ‘calm box’, full of anchors to indulge your five senses. Ideas could be a super-soft blanket to wrap around you, a scented oil or candle, chewing gum, a playlist of your favourite chill-out music, a photo that makes you smile, a feel-good novel.”
She adds: “Make time to nurture yourself a priority.”
Pick out the positives
Look for the small positives in your day to day life that help you feel better about lockdown easing and your situation.
Rebecca says: "It could be something like ‘having an excuse to put on something other than a tracksuit’, ‘visiting the garden centre’ or, ‘meeting up for a socially distanced picnic with a friend’ – indulge in the positives, put on your best outfit, notice the vibrance and scent of the flowers, enjoy how the freedom of sitting outside, smiling and reminiscing feels."
Think about positive changes this could bring
“This emergence from such a unique and unprecedented situation may well provide us with the foundations for some really positive change,” says Rebecca.
“It could be an opportunity to review your own boundaries – what you will and won’t accept – and plan to integrate these into your new, post-lockdown world.
Remember you coped with change before
Three months ago we would never have imagined spending seven weeks at home, with schools and shops closed, and unable to visit family or friends.
We’ve already adapted to this major change in our lives, as well others over the years.
Rebecca says: “Think about how you have felt say, starting a new job, new relationship or the most recent change, lockdown. I imagine that in the majority of cases, you have adapted and become comfortable in your new environment. And you will with this one too.”
Take one small step at a time
It’s important to recognise anxieties about lockdown easing are understandable – and you won’t be alone in feeling them.
Don’t pressure yourself to feel better about this straight away. Instead take one small step at a time to help you overcome your anxiety.
Indira concludes: “None of this is straightforward. We’re in unchartered territory and so will take time for us to process and get our heads around.
“To have anxieties in the current climate is perfectly reasonable and finding ways to overcome them can be tricky but hopefully achievable by taking one small step at a time.”
To find a counsellor or psychotherapist who can help you with anxiety visit our Therapist Directory.
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