Easing the Coronavirus lockdown - feeling fear, then conquering it
As I write this we are (in the UK at anyway) starting to reduce the Coronavirus Covid-19 lockdown, from it’s tightest state, to a (slightly) more eased version of what we have been used to for over three months. This got me thinking about how this good news is paradoxically causing many of us to feel more anxious and fearful – compared to a short while ago, when the lockdown and our restrictions were most strict. Here I will explain why this is the case and what we can do to conquer fears about easing the Coronavirus lockdown.
First of all, let’s think about why easing the lockdown increases our stress. Easing the lockdown brings change. And put simply, change affects people in different ways. For some it represents a good thing. For others, a not-so-good thing. Change can bring a large degree of uncertainty. This can feel unsettling. Feeling unsettled is a state that feeds our anxiety.
Easing the lockdown will increase our anxiety if:
We have been mainly isolated during the lockdown
We feel unsure about our safety, or even more so if we perceive that we are not safe from the Coronavirus threats
We perceive that the negative consequences of Coronavirus will be big – being sick, hospitalised, in ICU, on a ventilator, even death, with impacts not only on us, but also on our families if we are out of action
We perceive that we are vulnerable – perhaps because we have a weak immune system, often get ill, or must go to places where we be exposed to greater risks
We distrust the official how-to-keep-safe information
We read or hear information that amplifies our fears – social media feeds, news sources, opinions from friends and family
These psychological processes will lead to a greater sense of fear and reluctance to expand our range of activities. This is in contrast to those people who show confidence in any easing of lockdown and the opportunity to increase their activities. What is their secret?
In my opinion, the confident people are likely to mentally do one or more of the following:
Perceive the world as safe
View themselves as a coper, able to cope with the virus should they contract it
Believe in their ability to control the viral threat – through handwashing, hand sanitiser…
Think that this Coronavirus thing is all a hoax, a lie, so nothing to worry about
Identify as a rebel, ignoring warnings, taking risks, or showing others that they can do whatever they wish (and not just during the lockdown!)
I imagine that you will see these psychological strategies in those who are doing more than most during the lockdown.
For those of us who are feeling anxious about the easing of the lockdown, the prospect of going out more, seeing more people, being closer to other people, what can we do? Here are my tips:
Work out the ways that you will keep yourself reasonably safe from the virus (e.g. handwashing, antibacterial gels…)
Plan the ways that you will increase what you do, so that your progression is cautious, yet shows an increase in what you are doing
Share your concerns about the easing of lockdown with other sensible people, to gain support and encouragement
Learn to tune-out the amplifiers – stop reading and hearing from those sources or people that are full of doom and gloom, worry, or who sensationalise the Covid-19 situation
When you get information on the virus, be discerning, ensuring that you go to factual and reliable sources
Set time limits on time spent talking, reading, watching and listening to Coronavirus-related ‘stuff’ – set some boundaries
Find other things to focus on (topics, hobbies, reading…) to occupy your curious mind, so the Coronavirus takes up less mental space and creates less havoc
Feeling uneasy about the easing of the lockdown is understandable. Follow these tips to take control of the situation, so that you feel mentally less anxious and more confident about doing more.
If you would like a more personalised understanding, support and help at this challenging time, then do get in touch. It would be great to hear from you.