The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted us all in lots of different ways. Not just when lockdown was at its strictest but now as we start to get back out into the world. It might feel like you should be excited for restrictions ending but it makes sense if you anxious instead. This might be because you are afraid of going to certain places because of risks of getting the virus or maybe you just don’t know how you did all the things you used to do pre-pandemic like socialising.
The more we avoid something, the more anxious we can feel. Lockdown made a lot of things impossible so we didn’t do them for a long time, so it is understandable if you are having some fears about getting out and seeing people again.
Equally, the news has well-documented the effects of the pandemic and particularly if you care for someone vulnerable, it is understandable that you are very aware that the virus has not gone away. In fact, less restrictions might have made you feel more anxious as some people might not keep to levels of precautions that you may want them to.
Remember to be kind to yourself: this is not a normal situation, so anxiety is expected and you aren’t alone in feeling this way. In this blog, we look at a few simple things that can help you feel more relaxed, break down things step-by-step to getting back out and increasing positive things for your wellbeing.
Breathing and relaxation techniques
When you get really anxious your breathing can get faster and this can make your feel even more anxious. Doing breathing techniques or relaxation techniques can help calm you and are useful if you struggle with panic attacks.
Here is one example of breathing techniques from Mind:
- Lie down or sit with your back straight and your feet on the floor. Close your eyes or focus on a spot in the distance.
- Start by clenching your toes as much as you can for a few seconds then releasing them. Notice the difference between the two feelings.
- Match this to your breathing. Tense your muscle as you take a deep breath in, and relax as you breathe out.
- Move up your body to your thighs, your stomach and all the way to your shoulders and hands, clenching and relaxing each muscle in turn. Take time to notice any parts of your body that feel tense, tight or tired. You can repeat if you still feel tense.
- Take a moment to relax, then slowly and gently begin to move. When you feel ready, you can stand up slowly.
Positive things for wellbeing
Anxiety can make us put all our focus on the things that we are afraid of and forget that we can do things we enjoy and like outside of this.
Adding in positive things for our wellbeing and focusing on what helps our wellbeing will have a knock on effect on us dealing with our anxieties.
‘5 ways to wellbeing’ can be a good guide for activities that can improve mental health. These are to:
- Stay active
- Keep learning,
- Connect with others
- Take notice of the world around you
- Give you time
The ways you do this can be completely up to you but some ideas might be to make sure you reach out to people over the phone, even if you are not feeling up to meeting in person. Other ideas might be to read more about something you are curious about and to spend some time exercising even if this is a small walk or going out in your garden.
Break things into steps
Just avoiding things can make our anxiety worse but equally doing everything once can be too much. It is important to recognise every action has steps that make it up, so even if a main goal seems too difficult, steps taken one by one can seem more manageable.
Some things to think about when breaking things down might be:
- Is there someone I can go with who will make me feel less anxious?
- Focus on your values, why is doing certain things important to you? This can help you keep going when things are difficult.
- Is there a smaller trip I can do to start with?
- Can I research somewhere so I know what to expect ahead of time?
- Is there someone I can talk to about my anxieties?
Our blog on restrictions lifting offers some useful ideas for how to make leaving the house and meeting others fit with your comfort levels.
If your fear of going out is have a big impact on your life, you don’t have to struggle with it alone. Making an appointment with your GP to help you get the support you need.