When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we were forced into confinement like never before–carving out workspaces in our bedrooms or living rooms, homeschooling our children, and socially distancing from pretty much everyone. At that time, we were feeling confused and anxious about the “new normal,” what it meant, how it was affecting our mental well-being, and how–or even if–we would ever go back to the way things were.
But as countries and cities all over the globe begin to ease lockdowns–from beauty salons and restaurants reopening to workforces returning to their office spaces–another wave of anxiety is about to roll in. If you’re starting to feel stressed and anxious about post-lockdown life, you’re not alone.
Mental Health Post Covid-19
After more than three months of lockdowns, we are being faced with brand new challenges, while we try to adapt, once again, to a new reality that is still to be shaped and understood.
Below are some suggestions about how you can support your emotional well-being during this transition.
Allow Yourself to Feel All of the Feels
This is a time to be forgiving and kind towards yourself and others. None of us have ever been in this situation before, none of us have ever experienced a global pandemic with an almost worldwide lockdown affecting our health, jobs, relationships, and freedom. We are all taking this as it comes, and there is no instruction manual for any of it. So don’t put even more pressure on yourself by assuming what you should or should not feel.
You feel how you feel. You need to accept and embrace your feelings. There is no right or wrong to our emotions. If that’s how you feel, there is no reason to deny it, ignore it, or be ashamed of it in any way. We are all struggling to get through this as best we can, and that is by no means a weakness, it just makes us human. Talk about your feelings with family and friends, and I’ll bet you’ll find that when you open up to them, they will do the same with you. This open dialogue is not only a good bonding experience but also a therapeutic one that makes us realize we are all in this together.
Take Things One Day at a Time
Just like it took time for us to get used to being in lockdown, it will take time to get used to coming out of it. Don’t force yourself to change habits and routines from one day to the next, especially if this is going to make you anxious. Try to make small changes each day, so that you don’t get overwhelmed.
Writing in a journal could help you monitor and reflect on the progress you make each day, and how you’re feeling about them. It’s especially important to maintain your social connections during this time: relationships are essential to human resilience, and you’ll need your network to be the support you can count on as you go through the post-lockdown transition.
Accept the Things You Can’t Change
Every one of us is facing unique circumstances. You may be married with children and be overwhelmed with homeschooling (or “homecamping”), house chores, and working simultaneously. You may live on your own and be at the pinnacle of loneliness because you haven’t seen friends or family in so long, especially if they live far away. Your emotional state may have already been vulnerable, and dealing with lockdown further deteriorated your mental stability. Maybe you have been furloughed or are out of work.
Whatever situation you find yourself in, try not to lose hope. Things will get better. It may not seem so at the moment, but they will. While it’s in our nature to crave control, the best we can do is to accept the things that are out of our control and focus our resources and energy on what we can actually do. We can control how we spend our free time, who we talk to and how often, what we do and do not eat, how much we exercise, our daily routine, what we do to make ourselves feel better, and more.
Limit Your Exposure to News & Social Media
Knowledge is power. And while it’s important to stay informed, especially when government directives are changing on what seems to be a daily basis, prolonged exposure to the news is likely to cause anxiety and distress. Choose one or two times a day to catch up on the news, and always choose reputable sources, like the Centers for Disease Control. Try not to make the news the very first or the very last thing you do each day. Try to avoid excessive use of social media, as well, especially if you notice that it is making you more overwhelmed, confused, and anxious.
A Note from GR8NESS
Anxiety can affect your health. It’s important to pay attention to how you are feeling, so you know when to seek help. Some of the post-lockdown anxiety signs to look out for include: recurring negative thoughts, excessive worrying about the future, trouble sleeping, feeling tense or unsettled, relentlessly checking news sources or social media about the virus or lockdown rules, and in extreme cases, panic attacks.
If you think you might be suffering from post-lockdown anxiety, we highly recommend seeking the help of a mental health professional. Additionally, the CDC has released official documents on COVID-19 and mental health.