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4 unexpected emotional challenges as lockdown eases

(and how to deal with them)

Despite feeling hopeful and happy to see lockdown restrictions lift, these changes can also cause stress and anxiety due to re-adjustment and the unknown. Regardless of how you view the easing of lockdown, it is important to understand these unexpected health challenges and how to deal with them.

Social Anxiety

Social anxiety – or social phobia – isn’t simply being nervous or uncomfortable around others; it can be a debilitating mental and physical battle. People who live with social anxiety have an intense and persistent fear of embarrassment, humiliation, or rejection from others. This can lead them to avoid social situations.

Lots of people are feeling more anxious now about going out of the house and meeting people more often. If you are experiencing social anxiety, it is important that you are kind to yourself at this time. Some simple strategies to help ease this experience:

  • Take it slow and say no or limit events until you feel ready
  • Suggest places or times that suit you best
  • Take short and regular outdoor walks
  • Schedule ‘Me time’ in your diary
  • Practice mindful breathing techniques
  • Tell someone how you are feeling
  • Avoid using alcohol or drugs to overcome anxiety
  • Call a support helpline or visit your GP
  • Read 3Ts Self-help guide on Social Anxiety

 

Bereavement

Whether it is a loss due to COVID-19 or another cause, you might be angry, frustrated or upset not to have had the chance to say goodbye in person. You might also feel at a loss because you have been disconnected and isolated form your normal support networks. As lockdown eases, this feeling might be elevated as life may feel like it is suddenly moving forward, despite you not feeling ready to adjust.

It’s normal for feelings of grief over a bereavement to be more pronounced when coupled with the uncertainty caused by an event such as the coronavirus pandemic. During this time, it is important that you prioritise protecting your mental health to ensure you stay safe during this time. Some simple strategies to help ease this experience:

  • Talk to someone you trust about how you are feeling.
  • Ask for help if you are not coping with day-to-day life.
  • Avoid alcohol or drugs to overcome grief.
  • Talk to a support helpline or visit your GP
  • Avoid making major changes in your life.
  • Share memories and stories about the person you have lost.
  • Keep in touch with loved ones who are going through the same thing.
  • Be patient with yourself.
  • Ask for help or company when you need it.
  • Read 3Ts Self-help guide on Bereavement.

 

Stress and Burnout

Burnout is a state of exhaustion – experienced mentally, physically, and emotionally. While many will be excited to regroup with friends, family and colleagues, the idea of doing all at once can seem overwhelming, especially if you need to balance it with your children’s and/or partner’s family and friends too. With lots to catch up, plus having to return to or commute to work again – slotting back into your past social/work life could result in over-exertion leading to mental and physical illness.

If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, it’s important to assess and understand the cause. Ask yourself: Are you taking too much on? Can you delegate any of your responsibilities? Are you making enough time for yourself?

Here are some simple strategies to help ease this experience:

  • Make time for yourself
  • Seek emotional and practical support
  • Find a routine and stick to it
  • Ensure you get plenty of sleep
  • Don’t schedule too much into your diary
  • Identify and avoid the commitments that cause you stress
  • Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet.
  • Call a support helpline or visit your GP
  • Read 3Ts Self-help guide on Stress

 

Depression

This is a distressing, uncertain time that can trigger or exacerbate depression. As some places start to open again after months of lockdown, the future may seem hopeless, especially if you have lost your job, be struggling financially, or worrying when you will start to feel yourself again.

Living in the age of coronavirus has had profound effect on our mood. Sadness is a normal emotion, but a persistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest may be a sign of depression. If you have felt sad, down, hopeless and/or irritable for a few weeks or more, or if you’re lacking in motivation and energy or are teary a lot of the time, it is important that you take the first steps to feeling better:

  • See you GP as soon as possible.
  • Tell a trusted friend or family member.
  • Call the Samaritans on 116 123.
  • Find a routine and stick to it.
  • Ensure you are getting plenty of sleep.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Ask for help.
  • Read 3Ts Self-help guide on Depression and Low Moods
  • Make an appointment to see a counsellor.
  • If you feel so depressed that thoughts of harming yourself or taking your own life have been on your mind, it is important that you tell a loved one and visit your doctor or your closest Emergency Department ASAP. For tips on attending A&E, please see here.

 

Remember!

Mental challenges are not uncommon, not just around lockdown.  Everyone is susceptible to experiencing some kind of mental health issue at some point of their lives. Being proactive about minding your mental health is the single most important thing you can do to help protect yourself from symptoms developing.

If any of the above symptoms resonate with you, the sooner you reach out for help, the sooner you will begin to feel more yourself and can start to enjoy all those things you missed during lockdown.