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Six ways to manage post-lockdown anxiety

Specialist Nurse Adviser for Mental Health, Bupa UK
06 April 2021

As lockdown restrictions ease, you might find you’re feeling a mixture of emotions. While there might be some things you’re really looking forward to, there may be others that leave you feeling overwhelmed or anxious. Here I’ll share some ideas to help you cope with any feelings of post-lockdown anxiety.

Take it slow

Firstly, remember that it’s completely understandable to experience a mixture of highs and lows right now. It’s likely that you’ve gotten used to a new way of life over the past year. And while there may be aspects of your old life you’ve really missed, it’s also normal if you feel anxious or worried about what’s to come. You might feel nervous about getting out of your comfort zone again and navigating situations you haven’t been in for a long time. The key is to recognise this and take things one step at a time. Go at your own pace and don’t compare your experience to anyone else’s. If you find you’re being self-critical, ask yourself: how would I speak to a friend right now? You deserve to show yourself the same care and compassion that you would to someone else.

Speak to someone you trust

Try to accept that any worries, fears or concerns you have are valid and to be expected. Share how you’re feeling with someone you feel comfortable talking to. The chances are they’re experiencing similar feelings. So opening up about how you’re feeling can help you both to feel supported and understood. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone you know, you can contact mental health support services such as the NHS, Samaritans or Mind and talk to someone in confidence.

Plan ahead

Consider which situations you’re feeling particularly anxious about and decide what you could do in this situation to help ease your concerns. For example, if you’re anxious about taking public transport, can you find another way to travel? If not, could you travel at a quieter time of day when there may be less people around?

If you’re worried about returning to work, could you speak to your manager and ask to compress the hours you spend in the office? Plan ahead where possible, and take a positive, problem-solving approach.

Look after your wellbeing

Taking care of your physical health can help you to cope with feelings of anxiety and stressful situations when they arise. Try to eat a healthy diet, limit alcohol, exercise regularly and get good-quality sleep. Even if life starts to get a little busier, remember to keep taking time out to look after yourself. Gradually build up what you’re doing as much as you feel comfortable. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries and turn down invitations if you need to.

Focus on the positives

Try to focus on the present moment. Take pleasure from the little things you can enjoy again with each stage of restrictions easing. Maybe you’re looking forward to playing outdoor sports again, dining al fresco or spending the lighter evenings in the garden catching up with a friend. You might find it helpful to keep a gratitude journal, where you write down what you’re grateful for each day.

Arm yourself with trustworthy information

The latest guidance on lockdown restrictions in different areas of the country are constantly under review. So it’s understandable if you’re feeling a little unsure on what you can and can’t do. Knowledge is power here! Arming yourself with the correct facts will help you feel confident that you know what to do, and can help ease your worries. But if watching or reading the news about coronavirus makes you feel anxious, limit this to once a day.

It’s important to make sure the information and advice you’re reading comes from sources that are up-to-date, trustworthy and evidence-based. Keep up to-date with the latest guidance on coronavirus at gov.uk and find out how to identify high-quality health information in our animation below.

Caroline Harper
Specialist Nurse Adviser for Mental Health, Bupa UK

    • Guidance for the public on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus (COVID-19). Public Health England. www.gov.uk, updated 22 February 2021
    • Mental health and psychosocial considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak. World Health Organization. www.who.int, published 18 March 2020
    • Coronavirus and your wellbeing. Mind. www.mind.org.uk, last updated January 2021
    • Terry ML and Leary MR. Self-compassion, self-regulation and health. Self and identity 2011; 10(3): 352-362. doi:10.1080/15298868.2011.558404
    • Looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak. Mental Health Foundation. www.mentalhealth.org.uk, last reviewed January 2021
    • From lockdown to relaxation of covid rules: tips on looking after your mental health. Mental health foundation. www.mentalhealth.org.uk, last reviewed March 2021

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