How I’m Handling Lockdown Anxiety
BY Monica Yates
An article by Monica Yates published in Thrive Global Magazine:
Over the last few weeks, many places around the world have gone into another round of lockdowns. In the UK, we have just emerged from a four-week lockdown. Naturally, lockdown and restrictions can bring a lot of anxiety and uncertainty.
These are concerns we’re all experiencing. When will I be able to see my family next? Will I be able to handle this emotionally? These questions swirling are normal ones to ask yourself. This is not a normal situation so it makes sense that it would bring some additional tension into your life. But, this time we are better equipped to handle it.
The first lockdown we had zero idea what to expect. While there are always unknowns, this time we know the drill a bit more and we know we can survive it. Now, it’s up to us to use the skills we’ve gained over the past several months and the wisdom of others to make it through.
There are a few tips that I’ve accumulated over the past several months and I’d love to share them with you all.
Tip #1: Accept Your Feelings
When we push down feelings or think they are the wrong thing to feel, it causes us more stress. They are not wrong, they are normal. All feelings are valid even if they aren’t fun to feel. Every emotion during lockdown is normal. We are wired for connection so when connection is taken away it is normal to feel alone, lonely etc. You have to remind yourself that your feelings are natural and no feeling is a bad one.
Tip #2: Know When To Stop
Even though I’m all for feeling your feelings, it’s been helpful for me to STOP feeling sad and homesick. Focusing on the fact that I haven’t seen my family and friends in Australia and the USA for over a year just makes me upset, so it’s such an energy drainer. So to be real with you, I suppress it for now. Because with so much going on, getting stuck on negative thoughts puts me in a bad place, these are emotions and trauma that I will deal with once the pandemic is over and I’m back with them. When the homesick feelings come up, I’ll move them through, but I won’t actively think about it or let myself dwell on it. It’s healthier that way.
Tip #3: Turn Off The TV
When we are bored, sad, stressed etc. many of us turn to TV, but this distraction or pastime can often make you feel even more lonely, isolated and anxious. And it doesn’t matter if you are watching Gossip Girl or a thriller. Instead, start doing puzzles at night, reading or doing something more productive. While there is nothing wrong with watching TV (and after a long day, I’m so here for a TV vibe), I’ve also found that NOT watching TV has been helping my energetic vibration and anxiety.
Tip #4: Exercise Daily
Go for a walk and exercise everyday even if you can’t be bothered. As humans, we are made to be calorie storers (as we are saving energy for when there is a famine essential) so it’s natural to get kinda addicted to being lazy and not exercising. But you know it’s not helpful. You don’t need to be doing HIIT everyday (in fact I’m not an advocate for it) but doing some sort of exercise every day is important. Not just because movement is healthy for our body and mind, but also because feeling strong and sexy will keep you feeling good about yourself when you look in the mirror, and it can reduce depression, self guilt and anxiety.
Tip #5: Get in a Routine
Routines are game changers. When each day there are tons of decisions to make, decision fatigue sets in. Decision fatigue is the new adrenal fatigue. So you want to be reducing your decisions as much as possible, Plan your workouts for the week on Sunday, as well as meals. This means you can flow through your week without the pressure (or excuses) of having to make lots of little decisions. Know what your next day brings before you go to bed at night, write a schedule or to-do list so you can reduce your morning “what do I do now” anxiety. It helps to plan out your social engagements too, even if that’s setting up video calls with friends. Reducing decisions in the moment as much as possible will help you to not feel so exhausted, stressed and anxious.
There is a lot we can’t control right now, but we can take action to make our lives a little bit easier. If you’ve been struggling with lockdown anxiety try to implement these tips and see if your symptoms improve. And, if it gets worse, talk to someone.