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6 expert tips on how to cope with the anxiety of life after lockdown

Country Living (UK) logo Country Living (UK) 24/05/2020 Lisa Walden

Are you feeling anxious about life after lockdown? For many of us, the past few weeks have been spent in the comfort of our homes, away from common anxiety triggers, and at a much slower pace than before. But, with lockdown restrictions beginning to tentatively lift, some people may be feeling anxious about whether they will be able to readjust back to 'normality'.

Whether you usually feel anxious or not, the change in lifestyle may feel particularly challenging for some. "Change and uncertainty are difficult for most of us to deal with, and can affect our mental health and wellbeing, potentially leading to increased stress, anxiety and depression," Stephen Buckley, Head of Information at mental health charity, Mind, tells Country Living. 

"None of us really know exactly what the future looks like. It's therefore understandable that many people will be worried about life after lockdown, whether that's concerns about returning to work, children going back to school, job security, finances, or generally adjusting to former routines."

Just as we were getting comfortable with this new 'normal', the next adjustment phase could also take some getting used to — and it's OK to take your time.

Whether you're feeling anxious now or want some expert tips on how to cope after lockdown, Stephen has shared his advice on how to navigate through this season of uncertainty. Have a look at them below... 


More on coronavirus:

Download the Microsoft News app for full coverage of the crisis

Lockdown laws: What has changed? (PA)

How to stay safe working, travelling and shopping (Sky News)


1. Talk to loved ones around you

One of the best things you can do for your own mental health is to have open conversations with loved ones around you. "If you're worried you might find the transition back to 'normality' difficult, talk to others you trust," Stephen tells Country Living.

"If you're concerned about the kids going back to school, talk to the school about what measures they have in place to make the transition easier. Similarly, employers should be thinking about what support they can offer – such as a phased return back to your usual place of work for example, gradually reducing the number of days per week you work from home.

"We might even see workplaces decide that asking staff to go to their usual place of work is largely unnecessary, and give staff the option to continue to work from home most of the time, particularly if commuting could pose a risk to your health."

2. Plan to do the things you love again

We have been living in a time like no other, so, naturally, it may take time to get back into the swing of things once lockdown is over.

A simple way to help relieve heightened levels of anxiety is to plan ahead; make a list of the simple pleasures you want to do again, friends you want to visit, places you want to travel to, or the restaurants you want to dine at.

"It's worth capturing the things that you're missing at the moment, such as going out to eat and visiting friends at their homes. Consider organising these kinds of events post-lockdown, as well as finding virtual alternatives in the interim," adds Stephen.

3. Begin to reestablish your old routine

a person standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: Rear View Of Woman Stretching Hands Against Curtain © Narith Thongphasuk / EyeEm - Getty Images Rear View Of Woman Stretching Hands Against Curtain

Whether you've been working from home or have been spending more time with your household, our daily lives are looking somewhat different to what they once did. A great way to help ease you into normality again is to reestablish your old routine, such as heading to bed earlier, for example.

"When things begin to return to 'normal', re-establishing familiar former routines can be helpful, but it might also be a good opportunity to reflect on whether you can continue some of the things you've been doing differently. If you've been working remotely, was there anything that helped make things more streamlined and dynamic?"

4. Review your priorities in life

"When it comes to our personal lives, many of us are finding the current pace of life easier to deal with, as we're less pressured to attend social gatherings, for example. It's worth reflecting on whether we want things to return to how they were before, or if there's an opportunity to review our priorities and really think about what makes us happy," adds Stephen.

This is again something incredibly simple, but it will help anyone suffering with anxiety in the coming weeks.

Gallery: Ways to manage your mental health while self-isolating (Best Life)

5. Be careful where you read your news

While it's important to stay informed with the news around us, be careful where you get your information from. "Feeling well-informed can help us cope with uncertainty. But make sure that you're turning to reliable sources of news that reflect facts, not rumours and speculation."

If you're feeling nervous, switch off from reading or watching the news for a while and instead catch up once a day. Make sure you do things that boost your mood such as baking, drawing, reading, writing, going on a countryside walk or chatting to a friend on the phone.

For up-to-date advice you can trust, see the NHS coronavirus webpage and coronavirus webpages.

6. Remember that things will take a while to adjust

a person sitting at a table using a laptop: Woman using smartphone and laptop. © Natnan Srisuwan - Getty Images Woman using smartphone and laptop.

"It's unlikely that any of us will be instantly afforded all the freedom we had pre-lockdown, and some of us, including older people and/or those with compromised immunity may have to wait a little longer before things return to 'normal'," Stephen says. 

As lockdown restrictions gradually begin to lift, remember that it will take a while for life to get back to 'normal' — and it's OK if you take longer to adjust than others.

"In terms of adjusting to change, phased approaches, rather than large and sudden ones, are generally easier to deal with. It's also important to recognise that some people won’t be ready to return to "normality", even if the lockdown eases and things like schools and workplaces reopen. There will be many who don’t feel their concerns have been adequately addressed for whom a much slower, more gradual reintegration would be more appropriate."

The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) has more information on how to cope if you're feeling anxious about coronavirus.

Stay at home to stop coronavirus spreading - here is what you can and can't do. If you think you have the virus, don't go to the GP or hospital, stay indoors and get advice online. Only call NHS 111 if you cannot cope with your symptoms at home; your condition gets worse; or your symptoms do not get better after seven days. In parts of Wales where 111 isn't available, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. In Scotland, anyone with symptoms is advised to self-isolate for seven days. In Northern Ireland, call your GP.


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