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  • Writer's pictureJulie Burn

Finding it hard to get going after lockdown?

For some of my clients who suffer with social anxiety, lockdown has not been the difficult endurance test that it has been for so many people. It has given them space from their everyday stressors: busy offices and shops, public transport, meetings and social get togethers.

However, many of us are breathing sighs of relief as life slowly returns to some kind of normal. We are steadily being reintegrated into our workplaces and are able to mix more with friends and family. But for those with anxiety, coming out of self-isolation can be incredibly stressful and then add to this the 'Stay Alert' messages we hear, almost daily, on the news, along with warnings from health officials, telling us to take care and act sensibly in order to avoid a second wave of the virus down the line and you have many nervous people spiralling downwards, fearful to leave their homes.

Many of my clients feel anxiety and dread as they prepare to return to work and to mix with colleagues and friends. Here are some tips I share to help them prepare for post-lockdown life:

Take Baby Steps

If you haven't left the house for several months, you will need to take things slowly. I suggest a walk around your neighbourhood or a local park to begin with. Wear a mask and say "Hello" to people you pass. Next, try a trip to your village store or local supermarket. If you haven't been in a shop or supermarket for a while, give it a try. Fear of the unknown is what keeps many people at home. You may need to queue outside but everything is clearly marked from the two metre distance lines to queue outside the shops and arrows indoors showing you which direction to go in. Wear gloves and a mask and carry hand sanitiser in your bag to use once you leave the store.

Re-establish Pre-lockdown Routines

Let's be honest, there have been some upsides to lockdown: staying up late at night, sleeping late in the morning, wearing sweatpants every day, allowing ourselves extra treats from the kitchen when we pass through but of course this cannot go on indefinitely and we need to get back to our old routines if we wish to function again in the world out there. It is time to:

  • Turn off the t.v at a reasonable time.

  • Go to bed at your pre-lockdown time.

  • Set your alarm 15-20 minutes earlier every few days until you get back to your usual get-up time for work.

  • Ditch the sweatpants - It's time to give up the official clothing item of lockdown and start trying on your work clothes. Start showering every morning, wash your hair, dress for work. It is time to establish those old routines again.

Arrange to Meet a Friend

If you haven't left the house or been able to meet family members or friends in your garden over the last few weeks, then now is the time to arrange a meet up with someone close. Arrange a meeting at your home, or theirs, or go for a walk and catch up that way. Virtual meetings have been lifesavers this lockdown but they are no substitute for meeting those you care about in person.

Take Care of You

We have been through an incredibly unusual and stressful period and things are still not normal yet. It may well be many more months before they are and in the meantime life goes on. You need to take extra special care of yourself during this next transitional phase.

  • Eat healthy, whole foods and try to cut down on those extra snacks.

  • Establish some kind of exercise into your week.

  • Get enough sleep. Turn off the t.v.

  • Try mindfulness and meditation as both are proven to lower stress.

  • Take time for yourself to watch a show you love, read a book, take a walk or a bath. Alone time is very important to recharge your batteries.

If you try some of the above suggestions and still feel incredibly anxious and fearful going back out into the world then talking to a therapist might help. Many of us are still doing online or telephone counselling and sharing your concerns with a trained professional might alleviate some of your anxiety and help you get going again.

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