Adjusting to the new “normal” after lockdown

October 12, 2021
Adjusting to the new “normal” after lockdown

Countries are slowly easing lockdown regulations as COVID-19 becomes endemic and many people will soon go back to their normal lives – but what constitutes “normal” after nearly two years of isolation and lockdown routines? Associate Professor Kristin Naragon-Gainey from the University of Western Australia expects people to be more stressed and anxious as they reinvent new norms and slowly become accustomed to it.

Kristin opines that people have a variety of emotions about leaving lockdowns, mainly because reinstating a new daily routine takes a significant amount of effort. For those who got comfortable with lockdown aspects such as greater flexibility with work and spending more time with immediate family/roommates, they may miss these positive aspects after lockdown ends.

Moving out of home – which for some may have become associated with safety and control during lockdown – may also be daunting and create new anxiety or fears, such as worry about contracting COVID.

While people with social anxiety, agoraphobia, and several others psychological conditions were noted to have experienced less social anxiety during lockdown, as they were not faced with as many anxiety-provoking situations, they nevertheless experienced much loneliness during the lockdown, similar to the general population.

Kristin cited research which has shown that people may feel less stress immediately after avoiding situations that make them feel anxious but are bound to feel as anxious or even more anxious in those situations in the future. For instance, while reduced interaction with the public during lockdown may have eased social stress for some people, it may also make it more challenging to re-engage in interactions to come.

Thankfully, there are numerous strategies that will help you successfully cope with anxiety and worry as you leave lockdown behind:

  1. Readjustment is normal

Any distress experienced is temporary. Allowing for some downtime for the bad days will facilitate quicker and smoother readjustment.

  • Acknowledge feelings and ask for due support

Seeking support and talking to friends you feel comfortable with will help as you navigate unusual feelings and changes. Decrease stress through mindfulness practice – it can help you feel better and more centered in dealing with surprising situations.

  • Seek professional help

If anxiety and stress persist for weeks and impact your ability to function well, or if you are thinking of harming yourself, please do seek professional help. Support is always available to help you readjust post-lockdown.

This article is attributed to Kristin Naragon-Gainey, at The Conversation AU.

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Category: Community, Features

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