What to do if You’re Anxious About Coming out of Lockdown
To shop or not to shop… that is the question I asked myself. A part of me is desperate to get out and about again and the other part is feeling just a wee bit anxious. I know I’m not alone. For the young and the fearless, it’s been a long time coming and their enthusiasm knows no boun – and rightly so! My son is out at the pub rain or shine. Well, rain or rain really. He’s playing golf with anyone who’ll play, he’s down at the gym, he’s into London to meet up with mates. He can’t understand my reluctance. He can’t understand my constant comments; “don’t get too close to anyone” or “wash your hands regularly”. And yes, I even asked him to take an LFT after his day out in various London pubs. Anxious? Moi? Just a little.
For my shopping expedition I thought it through carefully:
- I chose a time I thought less busy. I went during the week after lunch.
- I knew the shops I wanted to go to.
- Told myself if it’s too busy I can come straight back home.
And all was good. No crowds. Except at Costa, so no coffee! I sanitised as I entered and exited each store. And each till point has sanitiser too if needed. I wandered around a department store just enjoying that pre-pandemic feeling of being able to browse at leisure. Magical. Only one shop I wanted to go into was looking busy with not much space to walk around so I simply avoided it and went back half an hour later. Hooray! I’m back. The bank balance took a hit.
Back to Work
It’s the same with going back to work in the office. Ask your manager if it will be a stepped return? Maybe a couple of days a week initially and the rest from home. Remember, if you can’t drive, cycle or walk to work and you need to use public transport, the chances are it will be quieter than it used to be. Again, like the shopping trip, have a strategy. Perhaps you can travel in earlier or later than usual to avoid the crowds. Can you walk instead of taking the tube? Or get off the bus a few stops earlier, etc.
Take a moment to write down the advantages to working back in the office, such as:
- Seeing your friends and colleagues in all their glory instead of chest upwards on Zoom or Teams!
- Being able to have a proper chat at coffee and lunchtime.
- Having someone to discuss a report or an email with instead of grappling with it on your own.
- Having a laugh – so good at lifting our spirits!
- Having a clear boundary between your work and your home life. No more shoving a load of washing on between meetings (okay, that might be an advantage of WFH).
- Having a sense of normality again, which has been sadly missing these past 14 months.
We will all come out of lockdown differently and face different challenges. You be you. Come out in your own time. Perhaps a quick trip to a local garden centre first or a local coffee shop during quiet times. A visit to a pub garden for a mid-week treat. Build up your confidence. The more you come out the easier it feels. There’s no blueprint for how to exit our bubbles. One step at a time. And let your family and friends know how you feel. Explain to them that you need a little extra time and need to take things slowly. You’ve got this.
For advice and further reading on anxiety, take a look at some of these great websites:
www.anxietyuk.org.uk – A national charity run by those with lived experience of anxiety.
www.nopanic.org.uk – A charity specialising in self-help based recovery via their helpline and online resources.
www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/anxiety/ – Information on different types of anxiety and how to cope.