Anxiety due to the ending of lockdown and how to manage it

Confirmation that schools are reopening and lockdown restrictions will gradually be lifted it is the news so many of us have been waiting to hear for over 12 months.

Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 3:13 pm
Jamie McQuade

While many of us are excited about life and business slowly starting to get back to ‘normal’ there are just as many people and not all of whom suffering with mental health issues who are feeling nervous and anxious about lockdown ending.

For many people working from home, being on furlough, it has allowed us to get used to a slower pace of life without having the daily commute to work, the stress of the school run and being able to work from the comfort of our home may have perhaps been unexpected benefits of lockdown.

For those who suffer from mental health issues such as anxiety have found lockdown has given them permission to remain in their comfort zone at home which has allowed them to feel safer and feel their anxiety is perhaps more under control.

COVID-19 and lockdown measures has impacted the mental health of people from all walks of life, with many people who may never have been impacted by poor mental health until now.

Our physical and mental wellbeing is now an even greater priority in our communities and through this new column I hope that I can help give you some guidance and help to improve your wellbeing.

What I would like to share with you are some of the ways I help clients manage their anxiety and stress better.

It is so important right from the beginning that you recognise it is completely natural for you to feel anxious and stressed about lockdown gradually easing. We all will be thinking quite similar thoughts and experiencing different levels of anxiety about life going back to normal and some of us are capable of dealing with change better than others.

Many of my clients will look at their social media and see that everybody else appears to be living their best life and seemingly coping with everything that life and COVID-19 throws at them.

What happens is that anxiety sufferers so often end up comparing themselves to other people which can take them down a rabbit hole of negative thinking and self-criticism where they focus on all the negative stuff in their lives.

What I teach clients is that it is just about being good enough, a good enough partner, parent, friend, employee etc. This is because being good enough is achievable most days and if we are feeling good enough most days it helps build the momentum needed to start helping you rebuild your confidence and self-belief.

Focus on what you have control over. So often we use up so much energy worrying over things we have no control over. Make a list of things that cause you stress and worry that you have control over and don’t have control over.

The stuff that you have control over practice getting better and using your energy and focus on taking control of those areas and the stuff you have no control over get more comfortable of letting those things go.

There are many grounding techniques but many of my clients have found the 5-4-3-2-1 method really does work for them

Working backward from 5, use your senses to list things you notice around you. For example, you might start by listing five things you hear, then four things you see, then three things you can touch from where you’re sitting, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste or imagine the taste of.

Make an effort to notice the little things you might not always pay attention to, such as the colour of the patterns in the carpet, the hum of your computer, the sensation of sitting on a chair.

Repeat the process a couple of more times until you feel the anxiety has become quieter.

Remember aside from work you don’t have to rush into anything straight away as lockdown eases. Take your time and pace yourself by trying practice runs of the new routine before it becomes reality to help you get more comfortable and prevent you from feeling overwhelmed by making little tweaks one at a time.

I am a great believer that there are not many problems in life that you can’t solve when you talk about them with someone you trust.