Overcoming anxiety about leaving lockdown

So how are you feeling about moving out of lockdown?

Can’t wait to get back to all the things and people you love? Frustrated that we’re still some months away from enjoying the kind of freedoms we once accepted as the norm? Or maybe all the talk of dates and lifting of safety restrictions is a bit overwhelming?

It’s understandable that while we may crave a return to a freer life, we can at the same time harbour some concerns about what lies ahead. We’ve now had almost a year of restrictions. Just as it took time to adjust going into lockdown, there will be a period of adaptation as society opens up again.

Here are some thoughts on looking after yourself as we head into spring and summer.

overcoming anxiety about leaving lockdown

Go at the right pace for you

Everybody is facing uncertainty and challenge – and we move through it as best we can. Newspaper headlines and social media posts may lead us to believe that everyone is bursting with excitement at the prospect of going to the pub or booking a holiday. But if some of these ideas make us feel anxious, we shouldn’t judge ourselves harshly merely based on what we think other people are doing.
We also shouldn’t feel pressure to rush out to the shops or bars when they do re-open if it’s not something we’re comfortable with immediately. If slow and steady is right for you, then that’s your decision. Try taking small, regular steps forward, challenging yourself to ease restrictions in your own way.

Don’t try to control everything and everyone

Others may be quicker or slower than you to embrace the lifting of restrictions. We don’t know the stresses and strains they feel. If their behaviour doesn’t impact on others then we should understand they have the same rights to express themselves.
Share your concerns with someone you trust and then try to let it go. We cannot control the speed at which restrictions are lifted, we can control how we react to them.

Focus on the positives you can enjoy again

There may be aspects to lockdown easing that we don’t find particularly appealing, such as the thought of the daily commute returning or being in more crowded public spaces. If those negative thoughts start to dominate, they can lead to bigger issues. Instead try to focus on the things you’ve missed that will soon be possible again. That may be seeing friends and family in person, visiting a favourite place, playing sport or sitting outside enjoying a drink.

Take pride in past achievements

Only a year ago this past 12 months and the changes it has brought to our way of life would have seemed impossible for most of us. The fear of illness, isolation, loss of routine, financial insecurity, anxiety for loved ones. The list is pretty long. If we’ve coped in our own ways with everything that has been thrown at us so far – then we should believe in our ability to overcome the challenges that easing out of lockdown will present.

Find routines and stay connected

Just as it has been important to find a routine in lockdown to give a sense of purpose and reassurance, so it is as lockdown eases. It’s always a good idea to try to get a good period of sleep, to eat and drink sensibly and exercise regularly.
Remember to take time for yourself. If you’ve found a new hobby or interest in lockdown, continue with it. And remember the things that help you stay positive. Maybe that’s being in a green, open space, reading a book or trying something like mindfulness.
As the pace of life picks up again, it’s also important to remember we still need connections – with families, friends, neighbours and work colleagues. Don’t neglect the small conversations and check-ins that have served you well throughout lockdown.


→ At the time of writing (February 23) England is still in national lockdown. So it’s still a case of Stay Home – Protect the NHS – Save Lives.

→ The Mental Health Foundation and Young Minds has lots more great advice on coping with coming out of lockdown.

→ We’ve written previously about how to make positive changes in your life.