2020 has been a very strange year for all of us and one that will surely be recorded in history. Many of us panicked when Lockdown first began as we wondered how we’d cope financially, working from home, with childcare and limitations on outdoor activities.
You would think that now restrictions are easing people would be sighing with relief that the world is getting back to normal, however, for some people, myself included, that is not the case.
There’s a very real emotion happening to many that I’d like to call Easing Lockdown Anxiety.
Initial Lockdown Anxiety
When we were first placed into lockdown due to the spread of the Coronavirus, or Covid 19, the majority of us (even the super rich, looking at you Sam Smith) wondered how on earth we were going to cope.
Some people were in a fortunate position, with nest eggs guaranteed to see them through, however the majority of us didn’t have cash to fall back on to pay our bills for the next three months.
We may not have all been in the same boat but we we’re all riding the same storm.
Parents struggled with childcare, practical workers struggled with working from home, a lot of people struggled with a 20 reduction in pay while the self employed were initially left alone. The government rolled out scheme after scheme to help as many suffered from cabin fever, and social media became a hotbed of people judging one another for their approach to the situation. It’s still the same today.
Somehow though, many of us adapted, yes, we were skint, yes, we lost jobs and yes, we found it nigh on impossible to work with children in the house, but after some weeks, we found our feet, we stopped to smell the roses and found a routine that worked for us. Some even had an epiphany and realised that spending time with family is more important than working all hours, especially those separated due to isolation.
It gave all of us time to reflect and consider what is truly meaningful in our lives.
We all handled it differently but no way was wrong. Some stuck rigidly to home schooling while others had a more relaxed approach. Some would visit the supermarket daily just to get out, while others preferred to stay indoors. Some chose this time as a time to rest and relax, to binge on Netflix and soak up the sun, others found garden projects and buzzed about renovating their homes. Nobody did it wrong.
Now restrictions are easing and our freedom is back, but it all feels a little scary, here’s why.
The Reasons for Easing Lockdown Anxiety
On the surface you would think that everyone would be overjoyed with lockdown easing, but this is not the case. Even if they don’t admit it, many are anxious about this return to normality and some don’t welcome the change.
- Cases are still prevalent so it doesn’t feel safe to go outside
- Reluctance to return to the manic morning school runs
- Spending less time with family
- Worries about spending more financially (commutes, lunch, day trips)
- Worries about paused financial commitments becoming active – such as rent holidays, debt holidays etc
- Lack of faith in the government and reasons for easing lockdown
- Agoraphobia that’s developed over lockdown, a fear of public spaces and crowds in general
- Reluctance to give up the new , more relaxed, way of life
- People are expected to go back to work but there’s still no provision for childcare
This anxiety is real and it must be recognised. Lives have been put on hold and some have preferred it that way. We’ve all been in our bubbles where it’s felt relatively safe. Now we must return to the normal we had before March and embrace all of the responsibilities and worries that come with it, along with staying alert for a deadly disease.
The Solution to Easing Lockdown Anxiety
There is no sure fire solution to easing lockdown anxiety but there are a few things you can do to help yourself such as:
Talk to Someone
Whether it’s counselling or a friend, don’t keep these concerns to yourself. Open up and talk to someone. You deserve it for your mental health.
Re-evaluate Your Life
Look at what you loved in lockdown and see if you can change your life, even if just a little, to incorporate it. If you loved spending more time with the children, consider reducing your hours, if you loved working from home, talk to your boss about working remotely part time. If you felt more financially free with less financial commitments, see about downsizing or look for some financial advice so you can cut unnecessary bills and have more money for what you love. If you have a partner, work together, they may have aspects they’d like to change too. This could be the start of a whole new life!
Take it at Your Own Pace
No one, except the heartless, will scold you for taking life at your own pace in these weird and scary times. If you think a phased return to work could benefit you, ask for it. If you’re not ready to go to the supermarket, attend events, or take the kids to the zoo, don’t do it. Just because places are reopening, and people are planning get togethers doesn’t mean you have to attend. If you’d prefer to carry on meeting your friends on Zoom, carry on. They’ll be happy to connect no matter how you do it. The fact is, your health, mental and physical, matters more than anything else, and this must take priority. Give yourself a break and be kind to yourself. There’s no right or wrong way to ease out of Lockdown.
Above all accept that this anxiety is normal, you want to protect yourself and your family and there’s no shame in that at all. As time progresses, hopefully you will see that cases continue to drop and this will help ease the pain. However you tackle the easing of lockdown, I’d love to hear about it. Please do let me know on Twitter @martinamercer or via email (comments are turned off as we keep having people wanting to sell fake adidas items on the threads!)
We’re all in this together.
If you would like support please see our other article on mental health and addictions (not saying you have an addiction but the info is all there), please don’t hesitate to reach out to someone. I also talked about my own experience with this for the Daily Mail.