Post-Covid anxiety is affecting people across the world. Millions of British people are now fully vaccinated against COVID, case numbers are down, and lockdown restrictions are slowly lifting and many people are beginning to feel like life is returning to normality. For others, however, after such a long period of staying home, not seeing many other people and not being able to shop, socialise or do things they previously enjoyed, these changes may be accompanied by anxiety and stress.
It’s perfectly normal if thinking about returning to work, to restaurants, going to busy shops and meeting up with people makes you feel scared, worried, anxious or overwhelmed, and it’s essential to keep this in mind as you start to get back out into everyday life.
If you’ve been working from home, you may be worried about the thought of returning to your place of work, full or part-time. You’ll probably have gotten used to working from home, feeling safe and secure there. The thought of getting ready, doing your commute, and going back into your office or place of work may feel a bit overwhelming. Remember that this is a normal feeling, and one many other people will be experiencing, so you’re not alone.
You might find you like the thought of being able to get out and about, meet friends and family, go to shops, eat out, go for drinks, attend the gym or anything else you used to enjoy doing before the pandemic. However, you may realise that when you’re out, it feels overwhelming, and you aren’t enjoying being around people and in social situations again.
To help reduce these feelings of stress and post-covid anxiety, gently easing back into normal life is the best way to look after your mental health. Don’t try to do everything all at once, or you may end up stressed and unhappy. Start by planning to do just one thing per week, then two, and build up from there until you find a balance you’re happy with. Everyone is different, so what works for your friend, partner or family member might not suit you, so try not to feel pressured by comparing yourself to others.
It’s also vital to remember that you may be a very different person now than you were before the pandemic began. You may have lost loved ones or re-evaluated what’s most important in your life.
There is some really useful information available which you may find helpful at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-public-on-mental-health-and-wellbeing/guidance-for-the-public-on-the-mental-health-and-wellbeing-aspects-of-coronavirus-covid-19.
Remember, you’ve lived through a global pandemic. This experience, understandably, has a profound effect on wellbeing and mental health, so feeling some post-covid anxiety as things return to normal is perfectly understandable. Don’t be too hard on yourself, don’t compare yourself to other people, and instead allow yourself as much time as you need to transition back to ‘normal life’ and what feels good and comfortable for you.