At the time of writing, the Covid stay-at-home orders in Sydney have lifted for the fully vaccinated and restrictions are easing further as NSW achieves better than expected vaccination rates and hospitalisations continue to drop. Many of us have embraced our new freedoms with gusto but there are also a number of us who are still feeling anxious about getting back out there. 

Both reactions are normal and indeed it is even common to be feeling both excited and anxious at the same time! We look at why this might be and offer some tips for how to manage this adjustment phase.

Coping with change
It’s amazing how adaptable we humans are really. As creatures of habit most of us can get used to almost anything. Just as going into lockdown forced us all to let go of our usual daily routines and invent new ones, coming back out again means doing the reverse. But it’s not like flicking a switch, it can take some time to adjust. Whilst this change is undoubtably for the better, it can still be a stressful time particularly if you are experiencing mixed emotions including concerns about the safety of resuming your normal activities.

Sometimes it’s helpful just to recognise that it’s normal to go through an adjustment period and set realistic expectations of yourself. Taking it slowly is OK – a step by step approach, starting with the things you enjoy and have missed the most, can help build your confidence and optimism. Reconnecting with family and friends in a safe way – for example, outdoors at first, or in a well-ventilated indoor space – will also help.

Helping others adjust
Perhaps you have picked up where you left off relatively easily and are frustrated with someone in your life who is taking a slower approach. In this instance it can be helpful to remember that we have all experienced the pandemic and the restrictions differently.

Respecting and accepting each other’s feelings is an important way of being supportive. Again, it can help to adjust your expectations of where others may be on their journey.

When to seek help
For most people, feelings of anxiety brought on by the lifting of Covid restrictions are temporary. There are, however, some signs to look out for that indicate you should seek help: 

  • feelings of distress or anxiety that persist for several weeks and are negatively impacting your ability to function well at home or at work
  • persisting difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite, feelings of irritability or anger, significant mood swings

Your GP is the best place to start if you are concerned, we are here to help.

Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash

Further reading:

Tips for coping with anxiety about restrictions easing

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