The roadmap out of lockdown has left many people feeling anxious rather than excited. We have spent a significant amount of time locked up in our homes, in what has largely become our new “normal”. The end of lockdown represents yet another transition for us to process and adjust to. Whilst this lockdown isn’t our first or even our fourth, you may wonder what is so different about this lockdown? Why might you be feeling so overwhelmed?
Previous lockdowns ended when Covid-19 case numbers had reached close to zero cases. This time is different. We are transitioning to a post-lockdown life where cases may continue to exist within the community. Instead of case number targets, the focus is on vaccination targets. This is something Australians have not yet experienced, so there is an element of the unknown. Change can be scary, especially when it happens quickly. Our brains often need time to process and make sense of change.
Up until a few years ago, we had our entire lives to process and grow accustomed to the pace of life that we felt comfortable with. In just under two years, our brains have had to rewire our neural pathways for what is normal, safe and restricted. We have been exposed to a discourse where staying home and keeping our distance from one another keeps us safe and healthy. In order to achieve this, the part of our brain responsible for keeping us safe made us vigilant to new threats. For example, how we socialised, how far we travelled, who was authorised to go to work, and even planning a holiday ran the risk of cancellations, financial loss or quarantine.
Once again, the brain now needs to rewire its perception of safety. Hospitality and retail will return, workplaces will open up, holidays are back on the agenda and social gatherings will resume. If you are feeling anxious about all or some of these changes, walk, don’t run. Even crawl if you need to. You may not have control over the roadmap or what society will look like post lockdown. You do, however, have control over what is the right pace for you to transition into your new “normal”.
It may be helpful to view your anxiety as a compass that can help you navigate the right pace for you. Tune in to what your anxiety is saying. What is too much? What are your boundaries? What do you feel ready for? Are other people’s expectations impacting how in control you feel?
There are many other worries that people may experience as part of their adjustment to a new “normal”.
These may include:
- Worrying about contracting covid
- Living with cases in the community
- Fear regarding the vaccine
- Fear of large crowds
- Navigating conflicting vaccine opinions amongst friends or family
- The risk of having to isolate after visiting tier 1 sites
- Travelling long distances
- Feeling overwhelmed from multiple activities in one day, which previously may not have phased you.
Anxiety can be experienced in many different ways. It can present physically with symptoms such as a fast heart rate and muscle tension. For others, anxiety may present as racing thoughts that cause overwhelm. These are just a few examples of how anxiety can be experienced. Anxiety symptoms can vary in intensity and in the impact they may have on one’s daily life. If you feel like you need support in managing anxiety-related symptoms, support is just a phone call away. You can reach our friendly Mind Up team by calling us on 9327 2769.