As lockdown ends, people are experiencing "re-entry anxiety". Counsellor Sarah Barr shares tips to help you manage things day-by-day:

The lockdown cloud is slowly starting to lift and whilst some of us are eager to feel a sense of normality again in our lives, the prospect of a ‘new normal’ can bring some new anxieties.

Re-entry anxiety, is a specific type of stress related to the fear of being unable to or not wanting to return to previous routines.

For many people there may be a fear of returning to our old pre-covid routines. Lockdown has created a safe bubble for many people and the thought of that bubble bursting can create feelings of worry and anxiety.

Some people find the thought of a ‘new normal’ frightening and the fear of the unknown overwhelming.

We have never lived through a pandemic in our lifetime and re-entry anxiety is inevitable, but it can be done at your own pace.

Here are a couple of tips to help you manage your anxiety around re-entry:

• Take one day at a time

You can adjust to Phase 3 in your own time, please don’t feel pressured into having to do everything at once, especially if it triggers anxiety.

Maybe try to slowly build your confidence again if you are feeling anxious about leaving your home. If you’re going for a walk maybe take a break and sit on a bench for a few minutes or meet up with a friend to have a coffee (whilst following government advice). This will help you to feel more comfortable in other peoples company again.

• Stay focused

Things may not turn out as you had planned and you might struggle with mood swings and a general feeling of unease.

One technique you can try is to find a comfortable place in your house and take ten minutes doing some breathing exercises to help create a feeling of calm.

If you are worried about taking a panic attack, try practising 10 minutes of mindfulness a day by tuning into all of your senses.
Ask yourself:
What can you see, hear, smell, touch and taste?

If you’re struggling with re-entry anxiety, try not to put too much pressure on yourself and take control of the things that are in your reach.

Your doctor can refer you to a counsellor in your area if you feel you would benefit from extra support.

Take care, Sarah.