Looking after your mental wellbeing post-lockdown
While many people have been celebrating the end of lockdown restrictions with gatherings of friends and family, dining out and visiting the pub, for others this change represents a source of anxiety. This can be simply down to adjusting to change after more than 16 months in lockdown, or in some cases, it can be down to restrictions easing while scientists and politicians disagree over whether it should be done or not. This may be especially true for those who already struggle with their mental health.
In fact, we should expect leaving lockdown to be just as hard as going into it was, as we find ways to cope with the change. Remember, these feelings are valid and you shouldn’t compare yourself to others. We’re all different and we’ll all cope in our own unique ways. We’ve put together some tips on how to cope with feelings of anxiety and look after your mental wellbeing post-lockdown.
Go at your own pace
There is no right or wrong way to come out of lockdown – everyone is experiencing this for the first time and finding their way – so it’s vital that you pace yourself in a way that suits you. Don’t let anyone pressure you into doing something you’re not ready for but, importantly, you should also challenge yourself to try something new as often as possible. Perhaps taking your child to meet a friend in the park, or going for a coffee with a family member or friend. Take it as slowly as you need to while finding ways to reconnect with people. Keep a note of what you’ve achieved – you’ll surprise yourself with what you’re capable of.
Find new routines
Most of us have fallen into what we might call ‘lockdown routines’ revolving around working from home, support bubbles, and navigating periods of self-isolation. As we move out of lockdown it’s important to set new routines, albeit ones you feel comfortable with. These might include going to the supermarket, getting a cuppa at a local café, or re-joining the gym. Try to vary your routines from day to day, week to week so you don’t simply fall into another rut. So, perhaps use different supermarkets depending on the time of day, or different cafés where you can drink indoors or outdoors, for instance.
Take care of your physical health
It’s well known that improving your physical health and taking part in exercise can have a positive effect on your mental health. Now that swimming pools and gyms are fully reopened you may want to consider re-joining. Or, if that feels like a bit too much for now, consider exercises such as running or power walking that you can do outside either alone or with someone else. Whatever you choose, the act of exercising will give you an all-round boost.
Take breaks from the screen
When we talk about screen breaks, many people automatically think of their phone, tablet or laptop, but it’s important to also consider TV here. With so much talk of infection rates and the like on news and social media, these could be a source of your feelings of fear and anxiety. Taking breaks from them – whether for a few hours or a few days – can do you good by preventing you from being constantly exposed to worrying information.
Find a new hobby
A new hobby is a great way to keep your mind occupied so that you’re focusing on something else other than feelings of anxiety – and some hobbies can actively help you de-stress. Yoga, for example, is renowned for its calming influence on the mind and often goes hand in hand with meditation which is also beneficial. Other activities such as baking, knitting, colouring – anything creative really – also have relaxing effects and also give a sense of achievement because you are producing something at the end.
If your mental health is suffering then don’t be afraid to seek professional help. You can speak to your GP to organise a referral or look into local counselling services. Bear in mind though that due to the pandemic, waiting lists may be longer than normal. If you would like to speak to someone more quickly, it’s worth checking out your health insurance as some policies include benefits such as 24/7 Stress Support.
If you don’t already have insurance, Kingsbridge offers Health Insurance for the self-employed by Equipsme, which can include this benefit. This means 24/7 helpline support on work-related, personal and lifestyle matters and up to eight sessions of telephone and/or online counselling, and a range of other features. You can find out more about the policy and get a quote through our website.
If you feel that you’re in crisis and need to speak to someone immediately, Samaritans are just a phone call away. A Samaritan is at the end of the phone 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Simply call 116 123 for free.
If you feel you are at risk of suicide or self-harm call 999 or go straight to your nearest A&E.