Written by TIC+. Illustrations by Julia Hartsoe.
For many of us, easing the measures of lockdown will hold worry, stress and anxiety. For some, the easing of it might be just as hard as when it all started. Just as it took time to adjust to coping with lockdown, it is expected that it will take time to find our way back out; to reconnect with life and its challenges once again.
FEAR AND ANXIETY
This is a typical emotional response that some of us will feel as we step out of lockdown and resume daily life. It is essential to acknowledge these feelings as normal responses to experiencing a pandemic. As we now move out of a place in which we learnt to cope (staying at home)- it can feel scary to leave that all behind. Nevertheless, it is important not to let those feelings and thoughts become ‘stuck’ and prevent us from moving forward and reconnecting to daily life. We need to remember that it is going to feel unusual and even scary as we start to do the things we haven’t done in a little while. Just like when we have not ridden our bikes in a long time on a busy road, it might feel nerve-wracking at first. Only by taking small steps can we move past the fear, negative thoughts and anxiety that surround coming out of lockdown.
Here are some useful strategies to manage some of these new challenges we will experience:
- Control what can realistically be controlled and move your attention away from those things that are not in your control. Try saying something like; “I will only deal with what is in front of me now”.
- Focus on the present – keep your attention on the ‘now’ and try not to race into the future, because it will always hold uncertainty. You can only do your best with what you have today.
- Building tolerance – for some, the wearing of masks will increase anxiety because of the sensation of not being able to breathe. Start by wearing the mask for 5 minutes at home taking slow calming breaths and slowly increasing this to the time that will be needed when outdoors, for example: in a shop.
- Take things at your own pace – but challenge yourself each day by trying something new or bringing something you used to do before lockdown back into your daily life. For some people, lockdown has been quite isolating or quiet, so coming back into everyday life can lead to an overload of our senses e.g. becoming overwhelmed with sights, sounds, noise and smells. This may trigger worry and anxiety. Using headphones when outside can help with reducing this stress.
- Change your routine – try and see different people or put yourself into different situations. For example, if encountering lots of people is scary, try mixing up your day. Initially start with adding short periods where you will encounter lots of people and slowly increase the length of time until it becomes comfortable and manageable.
- Pick up social lives – some of us will be excited to do this; others will feel nervous. If you are nervous or worried about doing this, start by planning some activity such as a socially-distanced walk with one other person and gradually increase this to help you to reconnect and pick up your social life again.
How can worry, stress and anxiety be managed more effectively?
- Share/talk through your concerns with someone you can trust, for example, a family member or friend.
- Write down your thoughts, emotions, and feelings (this helps you to get some perspective).
- Break things down – to help you understand what might be going on, ask yourself:
- What could be causing this?
- What can I change / what can’t I change?
- Do I need to get some help with this?
- Challenge the meaning you have attached to a feeling or thought e.g. ask yourself; is this thought/feeling true? Where is the proof? Are my thoughts accurate? Are there any other explanations?
- Rethink and replace any untrue, inaccurate thoughts with a positive statement, for example: “it’s not true that I am… instead I am…”.
The following all work on the nervous system, helping to bring down our worry, stress and anxiety levels:
- Talk to someone, e.g. friends, family.
- Exercise daily (this releases endorphins which makes us feel good – nature’s natural anti-depressant).
- Sleep well.
- Identify things/activities that bring you pleasure and do more of them.
- Colouring in/Art & Crafts.
- Listen to your favourite music.
- Watch something that makes you laugh (laughing releases endorphins – promoting an overall sense of well-being).
- Use relaxation and mindfulness apps.
- Breathing exercises – take a deep breath in to a count of 4, then breathe out slowly counting backwards 4, 3,2,1. Do a few rounds of these until you feel calm and relaxed.
If you live in Gloucestershire and are aged 9-21, you can get support from our TIC+ counsellors. Although our Face-To-Face service is currently suspended, you can still get support and counselling online and through video and 1-2-1 text chat .
TIC+ works hard at raising funds so they can arrange for a counsellor to see you for free, all you need to do is call us on 01594 372777 or text us on 07520 634063 to arrange an appointment. We know it can be hard to take that first step but, like the other young people we’ve helped, you’ll be so glad you did.
If you need to speak to someone urgently, call Childline on 0800 1111, NHS 111 (on 111) or the Samaritans on 116 123. There’s always someone there to help, and any conversations you have with them are confidential.
For more advice check out our SUPPORT RESOURCES page!