… and why it is O.K to feel that way
As lockdown measures continue to ease, it is understandable that people may experience anxious thoughts about returning to normal life with more face to face social interactions. In the prime of lockdown there was nothing we wanted more to get back to “normal life”. Sunday bottomless brunches, casual hookups, pubs nights out with friends or even that ritual eyelash appointment. We all wanted it back. However, for many, the post Covid return hasn’t quite been what was imagined. After a year of tragedy and isolation, the conversation of what to wear to the first night back out may not be as thrilling for some as others.
So, we spoke to Dave Smithson, Operations Director at Anxiety UK, to talk about how we can manage anxiety and to share any tips that could help when putting yourself back out there post pandemic.
*Note: It is important to note that anxiety affects everyone differently and therefore one tip may not help all.*
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is best described as feelings of fear or worry that can range from mild to severe. For example; worrying about upcoming situations or things that could go wrong. Those who experience anxiety may have difficulty breathing, an increased heart rate, headaches and shaking. Other symptoms include tiredness, dizziness, feeling sick and excessive sweating. However, while anxiety comes with its physical stresses, it can also lead to social anxiety, making social interactions incredibly hard to manage.
So, what can we do to manage our anxiety?
“There are lots of things we can do to help ourselves. There are lots of books and self-help tools you can look to try to help,” says Dave Smithson. “Whether that is breathing and relaxation techniques, forms of mindfulness or simple things like looking at your diet to see if you are eating healthily. Food has a massive impact on our mental well-being.” Dave explained that foods rich with high levels of carbohydrates or sugars can be counterproductive to managing anxiety as well as caffeine.
Exercise is another important influence as it is beneficial for our mental well-being. Inputting a daily workout routine into your schedule could help manage your anxiety in the long run. If you arent into hardcore working out, which many are not, studies have even shown that going for a 10-minute walk every day can help to calm your thoughts and release stress.
“Be prepared to take it easy and take it one step at a time”Dave Smithson
Smoking is another factor that can trigger anxiety. Therefore if you are experiencing high levels of anxiety and are a frequent smoker, it could be beneficial to stop.
While we can do what we can from home to help ourselves manage anxiety and recurring thoughts about stepping back into the outside world, if self-help techniques are not working there is nothing wrong with receiving professional help or turning to an anxiety helpline.
“Be prepared to take it easy and take it one step at a time,” says Dave. “Don’t be afraid to say to somebody and set your own boundaries. Say I don’t feel comfortable yet doing that, can we take it one step at a time, can we meet in the garden for a couple hours instead of going down to the pub or out for a meal?”
Likewise, tell your employer if you are anxious about returning to work. Having these types of conversations will allow them to help ease you back into these social situations.
Image Credit: Getty Images
You can access free anxiety resources and helpline services on the Anxiety UK website.