Anxiety flourishes in the face of uncertainty. Fuelled by the ever changing environment COVID has thrown us into this past year, we face a final challenge. Returning to before.
For some of us the ‘double vaccine’ status we hold fills us with confidence to face what we could only have wished of a few months ago. For others, it is a forceful presence adding pressure to move on from the comfort of our own home. So how do we ease ourselves out, back into the world of uncertainties?
Easing out of lockdown will look different for everyone. For some, it will be oozing with gatherings, filled to the brim with colours, events and tricky-to-fit-in timings. Others of us will ponder on whether Tesco express will be quieter now or at 7pm tonight. Both are fine. Either is great.
Wherever we are at mentally, of what we feel we can cope with as we return to this supposed ‘normality’ there are a few ways we can help ourselves throughout.
A guide to easing yourself out of lockdown:
Where am I at; Where do I want to be?
First things first, it is really helpful to identify what you are comfortable doing now that lockdown has ended. Are you happy going to the shops? Are you happy meeting a friend? Are you happy meeting a group of friends? What environments are you comfortable going to and what ones have you been avoiding? It doesn’t matter where you are at, even if this is finding leaving the house too much, but it’s a great starting point to identify, either in a journal or to a friend where you are at right at this moment. Often writing or speaking these thoughts out will help clarify exactly how you are feeling so if you can – get writing or speaking!
After you have some sort of idea of what you have done and what has been more challenging, it is time to start thinking about what things you would like to be able to do. If you didn’t feel the anxiety, what would you be after? Maybe going clothes shopping? Maybe playing football in the park? Maybe your aim is to be able to do things such as book a commitment without feeling so much anxiety? Whatever it is, pick up to 3 aims that you would like to be able to do now lockdown has ended. A few ideas have been listed below.
- Go and watch my brother’s cricket match
- Meet Rosie at the local park
- Go for a drive a bit further afield
If you are looking at your list and they look overwhelming; add something a bit easier in. If you are looking at your list and they look easy; add something more challenging in. Which leads onto the second aspect of easing out of lockdown; challenge.
2. To challenge or to be kind?
We hear a lot at the minute about being kind to ourselves. That we must look after ourselves and be gentle. But has this gone too far?
Being kind to ourselves can mean having a bubble bath, turning on our favourite binge-worthy T.V. programme and getting into bed. It can also be doing something that really scares us.
Setting ourselves challenges is as important as giving ourselves comfort. We grow and thrive off challenge. The more we challenge ourselves, the more confidence we will get when challenges, we perhaps have a little less choice in facing, occur. Challenge, challenge, challenge. But do it with support.
To me, being kind to myself means knowing when to offer my body comfort and knowing when to take the opportunity of a challenge; but more than that – to allow myself to accept support when facing a challenge. If going out alone is too much of a challenge, take some one with you. If you need help knowing where to start, discuss it with someone.
Support can come in all formats, it doesn’t need to just be physical support from someone else. It can also be support from doing an activity that you know calms you such as reading or cooking for example. It could also be online support or support from a group or team. Whatever it is, it is important to make sure you accept support when you need it and use the support to push yourselves outside your comfort zone, one step at a time. This leads onto the final stage to help yourself ease out of lockdown – baby steps.
3. Baby steps
For anyone who has done the tastelife course, baby steps will be a familiar concept to you. For anyone who has forgotten or hasn’t come across it before, there is a little recap below.
Baby steps is a technic to use when facing a challenge. Rather than seeing the challenge as one big, gigantic whole, we can view it in a number of baby steps that we face one at a time. For example, if going to the shops seems a big deal, we could split this into making a shopping list, organising the trip, going for a walk and then as a final stage, going for a walk to the shops. Often if we break challenges down, they become a little less challenging.
Go back to your original list of goals for coming out of lockdown and see if any of them can be broken down into baby steps.
Identifying where you are at, setting yourself challenge and approaching challenge with support and baby steps will hopefully make the idea of easing out of lockdown just that little bit easier. The environment we are in can be stressful so finding ways to help ourselves is really important.
Wherever you are at, it is okay. However long it takes you to get to where you want to be, it is okay. Easing out of lockdown might come easily or it might be equally as rocky an event as going into lockdown. Your feelings are valid. You will get there.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with tastelife for further support.
written by Iona Craig