By Katie Forsythe
So you can get that long awaited haircut and you’re allowed to meet up with six people, but what if lockdown has left you feeling anxious about getting back out there? On top of this, students have been bit especially badly by Covid-19 – after months of uncertainty, many are still unsure when they can to get back to campus and those hoping to start courses later in the year are unable to sit exams as planned. So what can you do if you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious? Here are three simple ideas that can help.
Find some certainty within the uncertainty. So much is up the air right now, especially for young people, and rules and restrictions seem to be constantly changing. Although we can’t be sure exactly what will happen next, try to focus on areas of life that you feel a little more in control of and that make you feel calm. For example, having some routine in your week or day can be an anchor when you are having a difficult time, so be sure to have regular mealtimes and incorporate things you enjoy into your schedule. This could be something as simple as calling a friend on a regular basis to check on each other, or an online exercise class that you enjoy. It doesn’t matter if you miss a day every now and then, but consistency is key.
Take a deep breath. There are loads of different breathing techniques out there that can help to make you feel less panicked and anxious. One of the most simple is to exhale for longer than you inhale for a few minutes, which will switch on your parasympathetic nervous system (the part responsible for relaxation, or what some people call the ‘rest and digest’ response). Sit or lie comfortably, breathe in for a count of four and breathe out for six – you can adjust the count as much as you need to make it manageable. Continue for a few minutes. After a little bit of practise, it will become easier and you’ll reap the benefits.
One step at a time. After months of being told that it’s not safe to be around anyone, it’s no wonder that so many of us are feeling nervous about being out and about again. Whether you’re a natural hermit or a social butterfly, it’s going to feel strange for all of us to see actual real-life people again, so small steps are the way to go. Perhaps start by meeting one or two people at a time and let them know if you feel worried – chances are that they feel the same. Then when you feel ready, try to challenge yourself a little. Focusing on activities you usually enjoy at less busy times could be a good place to start. Eventually, you’ll start to feel more comfortable and will gain confidence to branch out. Remember, there’s no pressure to do everything in one go!
Lastly, if you are feeling anxious because of the uncertainties that Covid-19 has brought about, you are not alone. Talk to friends, family, a teacher or someone you trust if you need some moral support. Step by step, you will gradually gain the confidence to enjoy some of those freedoms again – good luck!