Many people may have experienced feelings of anxiety or depression during the COVID-19 lockdown. Similarly, coming out of lockdown may cause a person to have anxiety due to various uncertainties or concerns.
During lockdown, a person may have become used to not seeing other people, or staying indoors. A person may feel anxiety as COVID-19 restrictions lift and people begin to return to work, education, and social events.
Post-lockdown anxiety can lead to a person avoiding social gatherings, or becoming stressed about their health. However, there are techniques a person can use to overcome their post-lockdown anxiety.
Research from 2021 found that, out of people surveyed in the United States,
Read on to learn more about the different types of post-lockdown anxiety, as well as methods to overcome them.
During lockdown, a person may have been unable to see their friends, family, or other people in person. People were also encouraged to stay away from others and maintain distance when outside.
A survey by the American Psychological Association (APA) in March 2021 looked into how people felt about returning to in-person interactions. Researchers found that 57% of Black people felt uneasy about interacting in person again. Additionally, 51% of Hispanic people, 50% of Asian people, and 47% of white people also felt uneasy about in-person interactions.
A person with social anxiety may find that lockdown has affected their condition. Social anxiety is a form of anxiety that occurs when a person is worried about being judged or watched by others.
Initially, a person with social anxiety may be relieved not to have to interact with others. However, one treatment for social anxiety is exposure therapy, which
Social anxiety can
- blushing, sweating, trembling, or having a feeling of their mind going blank
- rapid heart rate
- feeling nauseous
- feeling stiff
- avoiding eye contact
- speaking quietly
- finding it difficult to talk to other people, even if they want to
- feeling self-conscious, embarrassed, or awkward
- avoiding places with other people
- being afraid of judgement
Although COVID-19 restrictions are lifting in some states, new cases are still developing. After lockdown, a person may have worries about contracting COVID-19. Additionally, a person may be anxious about having it and passing it on to other people.
Health anxiety occurs if a person is constantly anxious about having, or developing, a certain illness, such as COVID-19. Symptoms of health anxiety can include:
- rapid heartbeat
- muscle tension
- tingling in the hands and feet
- pressure in the chest
- feeling on edge
At the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlined certain guidelines to help stop it from spreading. These guidelines included
A person with anxiety about leaving their house after lockdown may have various worries about going outside. A person may want to stay in their house to avoid interacting with other people. Additionally, a person may fear that by going out, they may expose themselves to COVID-19.
- being outside alone
- standing in line or being in a crowd
- in open spaces
- on public transport
- being in enclosed spaces, such as shops
A person with agoraphobia may experience panic attacks, or panic-like symptoms, such as:
- heart palpitations
- shortness of breath
- chest pain
- feelings of choking
- feeling detached from reality
- fear of losing control or dying
- numbness or tingling
- chills or hot flashes
Many people will have become used to working online during lockdown. Going back to in-person workdays may result in anxiety for some people. For instance, a person may be anxious about traveling on a crowded train to go to work. Additionally, a person may feel that they no longer know how to deal with in-person customer interactions.
People who work in healthcare may have additional anxiety about working after lockdown. Research from 2021 found that healthcare workers were
When working, or thinking about work, a person may experience symptoms of anxiety such as:
- feelings of dread or apprehension
- feeling tense
- expecting the worst
- pounding heart
- shortness of breath
- frequent urination
Adjusting to life after lockdown may be difficult, but there are various methods a person can use to ease these anxieties.
If someone is struggling due to changes in their mental health, they should contact a mental health professional to discuss treatment options. These may include talking therapy, often with techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Doctors may also recommend certain medications to help a person with anxiety.
There are some other steps a person can take alongside or before seeking medical help. The following at-home techniques may help people overcome post-lockdown anxiety, according to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS):
Take things one step at a time
When dealing with post-lockdown anxiety, it is important that a person takes things slowly. Rushing back into past routines may lead to further anxiety or stress.
A person may want to try some of the following to ease themselves into post-lockdown life:
- taking a short walk outside
- meeting a friend in the garden or at park
- planning a small social event to build confidence around other people
- starting a journal to track thoughts and feelings around certain experiences
Get information from credible sources
It can be difficult to separate real COVID-19 information from fake information. A person may feel anxious if they feel confused or misinformed about COVID-19.
To reduce COVID-19 misinformation, a person should try and use trusted sources, such as the CDC or the World Health Organization (WHO). Additionally, if a person feels overwhelmed by the news, they should try and limit how much they consume.
Share feelings with others
Sharing feelings or anxieties with someone can help a person to work through certain issues. A person may find it helpful to talk about how they feel with a:
- family member
A person may also want to assert any boundaries they have after lockdown. A person might like some space, or may not want to shake hands. Each person’s individual post-lockdown boundaries are valid, and others should respect them.
Find routine where possible
Having a routine can be helpful when dealing with post-lockdown anxiety. A person may find that their daily routine became out of sync during lockdown. Simple changes, such as going to bed or having lunch at a set time, may help someone reduce anxiety symptoms.
Take time to relax
Although a person may find life becomes busy after lockdown, it is important to also have time to relax. Relaxation can help a person to de-stress and unwind. Certain relaxing activities can include:
As COVID-19 restrictions lift, a person may experience post-lockdown anxieties. For example, a person may have anxiety about their health, being social, or going outside.
Readjusting to life after lockdown can be stressful. However, there are various ways a person can overcome their post-lockdown anxiety. Relaxation, routine, and taking things slowly can all help a person with post-lockdown anxiety.
If a person is concerned about their post-lockdown anxiety, they should speak to a healthcare professional.