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Six ways to manage post-lockdown anxiety

Specialist Nurse Adviser for Mental Health, Bupa UK
11 June 2020

As lockdown restrictions begin to ease in the UK, you might be looking forward to having a little bit of normality and routine back in your life. But you might also be feeling anxious about adjusting to life post-lockdown. Perhaps you’re worried about your health, protecting your loved ones or unsure how to follow social distancing and hygiene guidelines correctly. Or maybe you’re anxious about returning to work or school, taking public transport or being in social situations again.

Here I’ll share some things you can do to help you cope with feelings of anxiety.

woman looking out of the window

Practise self-awareness and compassion

It’s completely understandable to feel a mixture of emotions right now – particularly as the situation continues to change daily. On one hand, you might be craving some structure to your day, or looking forward to a socially-distanced catch up outside with a friend. But on the other hand, you might feel concerned or anxious about returning to situations you haven’t been in for some time. The key is to recognise this and be kind to yourself. 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

Share your fears and concerns with someone you feel comfortable talking to. The chances are they’re experiencing similar feelings. Sharing how you’re both feeling can help you both to feel supported and understood. If you have specific concerns about returning to work, speak to your line manager and colleagues.

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.

Arm yourself with trustworthy information

The guidance on what to do and how to stay safe during coronavirus is constantly evolving. So it’s understandable if you’re feeling unsure what hygiene precautions you should take, or what social distancing measures to follow.

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 information in our fact-checking article.

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. Remember to take some time out to look after yourself. Try a few different things until you find what works for you. You could try reading a book, practise mindfulness, get creative, bake or go outdoors for some exercise. Spending time outside in green, open spaces can have positive effects on your wellbeing.

Focus on the positives

Try to focus on the positives and take pleasure from the little things you can enjoy again. Maybe you’re looking forward to getting a takeaway coffee from your favourite café again. Or it might be having a socially-distanced garden visit with a loved one you’ve been missing.

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 31 March 2020
    • Mental health and psychosocial considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak. World Health Organization. www.who.int, 18 March 2020
    • Coronavirus and your wellbeing. Mind. www.mind.org.uk, accessed 8 June 2020
    • 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 3 June 2020

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