Feeling anxious post-pandemic? You’re not alone
Anxiety, anxiety, anxiety. Loads of people are feeling anxious at the moment. Some people are experiencing it for the first time, and people who have had anxiety before have found it’s become worse in recent months.
What’s going on?
For all of us, the pandemic was stressful and difficult in all sorts of ways. Lots of us felt stressed and distressed at the time of lockdowns, periods of illness and so on, but a lot of the mental health impact of major and ongoing events such as a pandemic are felt afterwards, when the threat has receded somewhat.
Throughout the pandemic the rules changed frequently which sets us up for feeling anxious and destabilised. As the rules were slowly dismantled the responsibility for keeping ourselves and others safe was passed to us and our daily decisions: to wear a mask or not? How often, if at all, to take lateral flow tests? Whether to visit vulnerable relatives? Whether to go to crowded places? It’s a lot of thinking, and lots of assessing risk in every little thing we do, and that creates anxiety.
Lots of people with pre-existing anxiety felt a bit better during lockdowns, as they were avoiding some of the situations that trigger anxiety, such as crowds, travel, going out, social situations. Therefore
Are you feeling anxiety, and aren’t sure what to do?
● Remember, it’s normal and reasonable to experience anxiety at this time, so treat yourself gently. Don’t feel you have to push yourself to jump right back into ‘normal’ life and everything you used to do pre-Covid if you don’t feel ready.
● Practice deep breathing. Take a few moments to concentrate on breathing in slowly through the nose, expanding your belly with a full lungful of air, and then gently exhaling through the mouth. It helps to try to make the ‘in’ breath shorter than the ‘out’ breath. You can do this when you’re feeling anxious, and also at points throughout the day as a reset to keep you calm.
● Try writing down the things you’re worried about. Some people find a diary useful, or a little notebook on your bedside so you can unload your worries before going to sleep.
● Talk to someone you trust. Anxiety can lessen just by talking about how you’re feeling.
● Look after your physical wellbeing. Exercise is known to help mental wellbeing, and in the short term can decrease anxiety. Aim to get enough sleep. And be careful with what you eat and drink: certain things can make anxiety worse, such as too much caffeine (in energy drinks, coffee, tea and fizzy drinks), alcohol, sugary food and skipping meals.
In addition to these strategies above, it can be helpful to have professional support, particularly if anxiety has become a major problem in your life. You can speak to your GP, who’ll know about the various ways to help, and/or you can contact one of Worcester Therapy Space’s friendly team for support.
FdSc Person-Centred Counselling and Psychotherapy