If you’re suffering from post-lockdown anxiety, you’re not alone. After months (years?) of covid restrictions, suddenly being asked to jump back into normal life can feel more than a little weird.
To prioritise your peace post-lockdown, there are some steps you can take to help you set healthy boundaries and approach reopening in a way that works for you.
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you must
When lockdown rules were first announced, we were all required to stay at home and change our lives completely. Now the rules have been eased, it can feel like you’re required to start going out and socialising again. But in reality, there are no requirements for how you live your life post-lockdown.
Just because you can go to concerts, hang out with all your friends and do brunch every weekend, doesn’t mean you have to do all that. This is the time to set boundaries for what you’re comfortable with and how you want to approach your post-lockdown life. If you’re not feeling ok about being in big crowds or hugging your friends or anything else that’s suddenly ‘allowed’, there is nothing wrong with that.
Start with small steps
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by post-lockdown life, try to start small. Getting back to more normal routines is important for your mental health but you don’t have to do it all at once.
Start with your closest friends and inner circle, the people you can be yourself with. When you’re ready, you can expand that circle to include some more people or more activities that can sometimes trigger anxiety. The idea is to gradually introduce things that make you feel anxious and then wait for the anxiety to ease.
This is where learning to say no is really important. If you find it difficult to say no, try practicing in front of a mirror or writing out drafts for messages in response to invitations. If you spend time getting comfortable with saying no, you can make sure that you take re-opening at your own pace.
If it works for you, keep it going
Don’t forget that reopening doesn’t mean you have to drop the routines and habits you made during lockdown. This applies to social activities, hobbies and how you structure your day. If you discovered a love for solo running, cooking a big meal on a Friday night or having a bath to help you relax, you don’t have to suddenly drop these rituals just because reopening has brought new options.
The same goes for socialising with friends. Maybe you’re not ready to go out to a packed bar but you really enjoyed having picnics in the park or doing regular video calls with friends and family in other cities. Post-lockdown life can still include the activities that you learned to love during the long days of lockdown, even when there are other things you can do.
Talk to people you trust
Chances are, there’ll be other people feeling the same way as you. While some friends and family will be ready to launch themselves into every event, there are plenty more people who would prefer to take things slower. If you’re feeling post-lockdown anxiety, find people you trust to talk about it. Share your feelings and anxieties and lean on the people closest to you for help.
Looking for more ways to manage anxiety?
If you want to find out more about coping mechanisms for managing anxiety, check out these blogs on journaling and affirmations. You might also like to try meditation or introducing a healthier morning routine to help facing everyday anxiety a little easier.