As lock-down restrictions slowly start to ease you may find yourself experiencing increased anxiety about re-entry into the world outside which has now become a very different and scary place since the arrival of Coronavirus. After so many weeks of being told that it is safer to stay at home and avoid social contact it is only natural to feel anxious with a forced change to leave your safe environment. Being at home has also become the new 'normal' and any change to your circumstances and routine along with uncertainty about the future can affect your mental health and well-being and lead to feelings of stress and anxiety.
The first step is to acknowledge your anxiety is real and then look at ways to reduce it. Below are a few simple strategies you can adopt to help maintain your mental well-being and reduce anxiety on re-entering life on the outside.
Learn to manage the fear
As you try to resume a 'normal' life and step out into the world again it is inevitable that there is some risk but you can learn to manage your emotional response to it. By making sure you take the necessary precautions to protect yourself from the virus, such as regular hand washing, sticking to social distancing guidelines and following the latest advice designed to keep you safe, gives you some control and helps reduce the fear factor.
Deal with one worry at a time
Categorise the things you can and can't control and focus on the things you can. This way you are taking action and doing something positive which helps to reduce feelings of powerlessness. It also reduces the chances of you becoming too overwhelmed.
Establish your old routine
A good way to help ease you into normality again is to re-establish your old routine as much as possible, such as the time you eat or go to bed, walk the dog or take the kids to school etc, whatever was usual for you. This can be help get you back into the swing of things.
Notice negative thoughts
Thoughts that catastrophise or predict negative outcomes will increase your anxiety. Practicing simple mindfulness or breathing techniques can help reduce feelings of anxiety about the future and keep you grounded in the present moment. More information about Mindfulness and free exercises here www.lincholsiticwellness.com/mindfulness.
Focus on the positive
List the positive elements in your daily life to focus your energy toward. Also Keeping yourself distracted with daily tasks rather than spending too much time worrying about what might happen can help keep your anxiety levels down.
Watch your habits
Try to keep to healthy habits around food and drink to avoid excess which can affect your health and well-being in the long term. During uncertain and difficult times there is often an increase in substance abuse which can be the result of feeling a sense of hopelessness. If you are struggling then contact the relevant health professional for advice.
Mood busting moves
Sometimes exercise is the last thing you want to think about if you are feeling anxious and stressed but it is one of the best things you can to reduce anxiety and lift your mood. Exercise that increases your heart rate helps release the feel good endorphins, making you happier and more relaxed afterwards. Going for a walk in nature can also be very beneficial.
Plan to do the things you enjoy
Planning ahead can help alleviate your anxiety as it puts you back in control. Make a list of the things you want to do such as the friend you want to meet, places you want to visit and events you want to go to in the future.
Talk to someone close
If you are worried about the transition back to some sort of 'normality' and finding it difficult then one of the best things you can do is talk to loved ones or someone close to you. You may find that they have the same worries and concerns and talking openly can often put things into perspective and make them seem less daunting.
Keep things in perspective
Keep things in perspective and avoid the urge to keep focusing on the news if you are feeling anxious. Its ok to stay informed but make sure that its from a reliable source which reflect facts rather than the rumours and speculation often found on social media. For up-to-date advice visit www.nhs.uk or www.gov.uk webpages.
Remember things will take time to adjust
It will take a while for life to get back to 'normal' and some of us will take longer to adjust than others. A more gradual re-integration might make it easier to cope with rather than changing everything all at once, as this can be overwhelming. Maybe some things you can continue to do at home such as having more business meetings virtually and not return to all your old behaviours immediately.
Make changes if you need to
If you have preferred spending more time at home, maybe now is a good opportunity to consider whether you can continue doing some things differently. Maybe you prefer a slower pace of life and find it easier to deal with. Maybe you have found yourself happier not to be in certain situations or social groups. Now could be the time to make a change for a better way of life to suit your needs.
Most importantly of all, never hesitate to seek professional help if you are struggling in any way. It may take time to get back into the swing of things once lock-down is over. You are not alone, there are people who you can talk to.
(post published June 2020)
Holistic Health and Wellness Coach
Lincs Holistic Wellness
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Produced for general informational purposes only and not intended
to replace medical advice