Around March 2020, the novel coronavirus started to rear its head in India, and the country went into a complete lockdown. There was a lot of anxiety and fear around the topic, as we knew little and the government was imposing strict rules. However, with time we did make peace with this new setting and found comfort in the safety of our homes.
Just as we were starting to adjust to the lockdown, the process of ‘unlock’ started. Everything is steadily restarting and restrictions are slowly being eased. But this may also cause added anxiety and fear; this time about leaving homes and going ahead with work and other chores. This growing fear is being referred to as ‘re-entry anxiety’, ‘post-lockdown anxiety’ and/or ‘snail syndrome’ .
Here you’ll find what exactly it is and how to cope with it.
What Is Post-Lockdown Anxiety?
Post-lockdown anxiety, as the word suggests, refers to the feelings of worry and unease associated with the re-opening of countries after months-long quarantine. This anxiety may be connected to the fear of contracting the virus, concerns regarding beginning our social lives again, or the uncertainty of what the hyped ‘new normal’ will be like .
A person suffering from this is likely to show symptoms such as persistent worrying about the near future, being over precautious (almost obsessively), afraid of leaving the house, and continuously updating oneself on COVID-19 news and developments .
What Causes Post-Lockdown Anxiety?
All these weeks, we were asked to ‘stay home, stay safe’ and the period was indefinite. Therefore, we learned it and rebuilt our routine based on it. Now, unlearning or undoing these changes can be difficult and can take time. Such forced changes are likely to be the root cause of post-lockdown anxiety.
Changes that we aren’t prepared for can cause a great deal of stress. It leads to the feeling of lack of control, anxiety, and a heightened perception of threat. And to add to it, there’s the fear of being exposed to the virus and catching it once we come out of the lockdown.
Who Is Most Likely To Experience Post-Lockdown Anxiety?
It is hard to say exactly who will be affected by this, but by the textbook definition of anxiety, people who are generally extremely cautious day-to-day are more likely to experience a high level of anxiety getting back post-lockdown.
Apart from them, people who have the tendency to not trust the authorities or people who feel the government is being neglectful and acting in a self-interested way hold a chance of being affected by post-lockdown anxiety.
Another group that may be more likely to experience this includes those who are more susceptible to the virus, namely the elderly and those with compromised immunity. People who identify themselves as introverts may also be a victim of the post-lockdown anxiety as they thrive in solitude and are often more comfortable in their own home. Going out and socializing may be a concern for them .
Coping With Post-Lockdown Anxiety
If you find yourself worrying about or panicking over the new changes happening and are afraid of stepping out of your house, these tips may help ease your anxiety.
Plan Ahead: Address the exact situations that are making you feel anxious and worried and think about what you can do to ease your concerns regarding that. For example, if you’re worried about going back to work, try speaking to your manager and work from home for a few more weeks, or maybe you could ask to compress the time you spend in the office. Keep a positive problem-solving approach and plan ahead wherever possible .
Avoid Obsessing Yourself Over News: There’s a lot going on over the news, so stop obsessing over it. Give yourself a few hours to watch the news, just to keep yourself updated. However, make sure that the source is credible and trustworthy. Always research whatever you read online as incorrect information may spike up the anxiety .
Focus On Your Present: If you’re unable to plan or if you think your plan isn’t up to the mark, give yourself some time and deal with one day at a time. Stressing yourself by thinking and worrying about the future can be overwhelming and exhausting. So, just focus on the present and do your best with what you have today. This will help you soothe yourself and build up confidence, and can help you come up with a better future plan .
Take Care Of Your Health: Being physically fit can help you fight the negative feelings when they arise. Eat healthy, try to exercise regularly, and get a good amount of sleep. Try meditation as it’s known to help cope with anxious feelings .
Share Your Feelings: Talk about your fears and concerns with someone you trust and feel comfortable with. Sharing your emotions will help you feel light and chances are, the person you talk to may be able to help you overcome your fears .
Focus On The Positives: Try focusing on the positive side and cherish the little things you’ll be able to do again after months, be it getting food from your favorite restaurant or taking a socially-distanced walk with your friend .
Talk To A Mental Health Professional: When nothing works, it’s always wise to take professional help. There are professionals who host online therapy sessions as a precautionary measure. So, now you can take a session at the comfort of your own home.