There have been lots of reports of heightened anxiety now that the lockdown restrictions are being lifted. Whilst the Coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly been the cause of anxiety, worry and stress, there are a number of people who may be struggling with the easing of lockdown. This may be especially true for people who have been shielding and for people who struggle with anxiety. I myself have been shielding and I have noticed some apprehension as I come out of this. On a recent trip to a doctor’s appointment (my first time leaving the house since mid March that wasn’t for a dog walk) it felt very strange. I noticed I didn’t sleep too well the night before and I had butterflies in my tummy as I left the house. When I was in the waiting room I felt a lot more “on alert” – looking out to not let people stand too close to me, getting used to the strange feeling of wearing a face mask and generally just feeling odd with a place I have been to many times looking so different.
Luckily, I remembered how mindfulness has helped me so much in the past with anxious situations (public speaking, difficult conversations, first dates!). My regular formal mindfulness practice undoubtedly helped me to notice thoughts before they took me off into stories in my head, “what if” thoughts and ruminating / catastrophising etc. I found doing some informal practice helped me in that moment too. I spent a few seconds feeling the contact of my feet on the floor (to help me feel grounded), focussed on my breathing (I did some 7/11 breathing – see video below) and did a check of what was happening in my body (just being curious and interested in any physical sensations I noticed). Staying present really helped me to feel calmer in this situation.
Whilst there are still many more challenges I will face returning to normality (going to a shop – I NEVER thought this would make a previous shopaholic anxious!!) I truly feel that with my mindfulness techniques I have a secret superpower to keep me calm. 😊