Coping with lockdown lifting
As we approach 21st June and the much-debated lifting of any remaining restrictions, it is natural to feel some anxiety, worries or just uncertainty.
Let’s face it, apart from ‘unprecedented’, uncertainty has been the keyword for much of the last year. We’ve been uncertain as to the path the pandemic would take, we’ve been uncertain about how long lockdowns would last or how many there would be. And even now, we are uncertain as to whether all restrictions will still lift on the 21st. At the time of writing, there may be a further delay due to the emergence of different variants and their more recent impact.
Anxiety is normal
Anxiety can be felt in the face of any change – positive or negative. Of course, what is anxiety-inducing to one person won’t be to someone else and each of us will feel differently at particular points. Perhaps that is one of the biggest challenges we face as we do emerge from lockdown. Everyone will experience it in their own way.
For some with eating disorders, lockdown has provided an opportunity to stop and focus on their own needs. Perhaps lockdown has provided a bit of a safety net, as Sophie Rennie writes here.
For others, it has caused additional problems coping with isolation and worsening already significant delays to accessing treatment. Or, it’s a bit of both.
Whatever your perspective; concerns and worries are entirely valid, normal, and reasonable.
Supporting yourself positively
We’ve gathered some tips to help prepare for whenever remaining restrictions are lifted. Ensuring you think ahead a little and plan what approach will work for you can lessen the stress and worry.
1. Self-compassion first
You are not alone in feeling concerned, questioning, anxious or unsure, so keep reminding yourself it’s OK and entirely normal to feel this way. No self-recrimination!
2. Pace yourself
When it comes to resuming social activities, take some time out to think through the pace that will work for you. Don’t try and take on too much too quickly for example. And if you do start to feel uncomfortable or overwhelmed, it’s ok to pause, reset and then try again.
3. Try not to avoid every social occasion
While you don’t want to rush things, it is also important to challenge yourself now and then. Continued self-enforced but unnecessary isolation can be problematic over time so build up gradually but purposefully. Perhaps you can write a list of goals and try a new one each week or fortnight.
4. Talk about it
Lots of people will be feeling similar emotions – talk to a good friend or family member about how you’re feeling and support each other. Hearing other perspectives can help you reframe and think about things differently.
5. Plan a new routine and be prepared to flex it
Life has become a strange routine over the past year – certain aspects of life have paused, and many others have become the norm (anyone else a bit Zoomed out?). So now it is time to adjust and refresh that routine but without becoming too rigid about it. Structure is good but not to an extent that you can’t let the ebb and flow of life create new options now and then.
Sources of support
Our support team is available Tuesday – Fridays each week and can help you explore strategies to adapt to a new routine. Whether that’s eating out with family and friends again, stepping back into a supermarket for the first time in a long while, or returning to a workplace, we are here to listen to your concerns without judgment and explore ways to help you cope.
We are also able to offer support and guidance to family and friends supporting a loved one with an eating disorder. Returning to more of a ‘normal’ life will affect how you support them and inevitably require both practical and emotional adjustment for you too.
A quick Google will reveal many different perspectives and suggested ways of coping. We like the articles from organisations such as The Mental Health Foundation, Mind and the NHS. There’s also more nuanced advice and suggestions for those with specific needs. For example, for those living with Autism who often find coping with uncertainty particularly challenging, there’s some helpful information here. You can also read more about anxiety here - written by Claire, a member of our support team and a registered nurse, the article looks at our response to anxiety and suggests ways to manage it more positively.
The next few weeks and months will continue to hold challenges for everyone. Whilst we don’t need to, and can’t, plan for every eventuality, spending some time now thinking about what will work for us when lockdown does ease will help hugely.
Whatever your approach, do make a commitment now to no self-recrimination if things don’t always go to plan. Just sign up to lots of self-care, kindness and compassion, and we continue to be here if it would help to talk things through.