Dealing with the anxiety of exiting lockdown

As we take the next step in Victoria’s roadmap and move closer to exiting lockdown, it’s likely you’ll be experiencing a range of emotions.

For some, opening up means more opportunities to socialise and getting back to doing the things they love, feeling excited and optimistic for the future.

For others, the lifting of restrictions can create anticipatory anxiety. The past 18 months have seen significant changes to the way we work and live and returning to our ‘normal’ way of life means they must adapt to new circumstances.

It’s important to remember that everyone will respond differently and there is no one ‘right’ way to feel. Being aware of how you are feeling and implementing strategies however, can help you better manage your emotions and reduce stress and anxiety. Here are some helpful tips on how you can do that.

1. Try not to lose what you’ve gained during lockdown

For some people, the end of a lockdown can come with the feeling that everything positive gained during the pandemic, such as new freedoms and time, will be lost.

While things may change slightly, it can be helpful to view the lifting of restrictions as an opportunity for a reset – a chance for us to commit to the things that are the most important to us and make us happy. If you don’t like the way things were before and they are in your control, then you don’t have to go back to them.

As restrictions ease, continue to make time for your family, discuss flexible working arrangements with your manager and don’t give up on your newfound hobbies and interests. There is no going back to normal, it is about creating a new sense of normal after a period of disruption and change.

2. Recognise your feelings and manage your expectations

Many people will feel uncomfortable or disorientated as we go back to social activities we haven’t done for a while. For individuals that have enjoyed their own space while in lockdown, including working from home, returning to in-person interactions may be overwhelming, annoying or cause social fatigue.

It is okay to experience these emotions, but it’s also important to remember you have the power to change and control how you respond to them. When experiencing a significant transition period such as exiting lockdown, all of us will react differently and at different times.

Take it one day at a time and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Try to limit your exposure to social media and don’t compare yourself to others who may appear comfortable and confident exploring their newfound freedoms. Be open with your friends and family about how you are feeling and the activities you are comfortable doing.

3. Don’t wait to ask for help, support services are available for you

Even if you are excited and have been looking forward to exiting lockdown, you may still find yourself experiencing unexpected emotions of discomfort. This transition period will be a very strange time for many people, even if you are optimistic about the future.

Alternatively, if you’re experiencing feelings of stress, anxiety or are feeling overwhelmed by continuous change and disruption, you are not alone. As we leave lockdown, we are accepting an uncertain future and that may be challenging to deal with and difficult to manage.

What is important is focusing on your wellbeing and taking time to look after yourself. Ensure you are staying active, eating well and looking out for your colleagues and loved ones. Even if those around you seem like they are coping better than you, it doesn’t always mean that they are.

If you or someone you are concerned about needs to talk to a specialist counsellor, please reach out through the Employee Assistance Program, for a confidential and free conversation. For information on available onsite and offsite counselling sessions, visit the individual and team support webpage. For additional resources on health and wellbeing, visit the Monash Health COVID-19 employee website.


Approved by Karen Lowe. 

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