Post Lockdown Anxiety

iceberg Photo by Alexander Hafemann on Unsplash

Resilience can be thought of your personal ability to bounce back from an adverse life event. Post lockdown return to work for some, may be the adverse life event.  Like an iceberg, this is hidden. 

When you are hit with a fundamental change of working and home living, that feels seemingly endless, you can cope by adapting the way you work and live your life at home.

Changing your work and home routines to match our changed lives, gives you the strength to carry on.

Glasgow-based NHS GP, Dr Punam Krishan, told BBC that levels of anxiety-related calls are increasing.

"I have seen a huge rise in the number of people presenting to me with anxiety, stress and low mood," she says. "Mental health has been impacted significantly across all age groups and people from all backgrounds."

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Many people have the mental toughness to cope with whatever life throws at you. Some people are knocked down by life challenges, but they return as a stronger person, more steadfast than before. Resilience means drawing upon your personal reservoir of wellbeing and then keep topping up your wellbeing reservoir which helps you get back on your feet, maintaining the status quo after the crisis.

However, your resilience is more than what is within us, it is between us as well. Community resilience is your access to networks and support, such as family, close friends and work colleagues. Think of community resilience of pooling all our "reservoirs" together. Pooling our reservoirs at work, helps us all to adapt to change.

Photo by James Armes on Unsplash

Imagine you are the shape of a ball failing to climb a steep hill, stumbling back every time you try. In the end, you may feel despair, realising you will never reach the top. Others join you, they have adapted, they have changed their shape to a triangle. With different shape, they can reach the top. A ball will slip but a revolving triangle has the grip needed. With support from others you can change your shape and climb to the top.

Photo by Jeffery Ho on Unsplash

Companies that are high in business resilience, are looking at flexible and smart ways of changing their workplace shape to meet future pandemic uncertainty. Returning to work in this changed workplace, will be exciting for many people, but many others are privately experiencing post lockdown anxiety.

Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash

As a Line Manager, be mindful that some staff are coping but others may not. Below are possible ways of coping how covid 19 affected your staff's work in the last 14 months.

  • I have felt comfortable with the changes. My work is enjoyable.
  • I miss people I work with, the banter, informal conversations and everyday contact. At times I have felt a bit lonely.
  • The past year has affected my work and home life. It has been difficult to balance family life and the work I need to do.
  • There have been times when I am fine and other times when it has been much more difficult.
  • The lockdowns has prevented me seeing people I am close to. There are family and friends I have not seen in person. In some way, this has affected my work.
  • I am used to working at home. I have a new work routine and people I live with have adapted to this new routine.
  • I live alone and working at home has felt quite isolating.

Photo by Dev Asangbam on Unsplash

Returning back to work can be for some people stressful. "I feel that I have become detached from the way things were before the pandemic, and the thought of going back to activities such as sitting on a crammed bus or drinking coffee in a café feels overwhelming,"

Many will be privately worrying about returning back to work, others will be excited.

" I am looking forward to returning back to work. I feel excited about this. "

" I will be fine. I expect there will be changes but I am confident I can cope. "

" This change does not bother me. I expect there will be new ways of working and I feel OK about this. "

" I like working at home, it suits how I do things now. I hope to continue to work at home but I do miss working on site or at the office. I am a little anxious about how it might work. "

" I am worried about returning to work. It is on my mind about how this will affect me. "

" I am very worried about returning to work, I think about it a lot. It is getting me down. "

" I anticipate that I am very likely to get stressed but I have people who know me who will help me through this. "

" I am likely to get stressed and will need people at work to be sensitive to this. "

" I am anxious about returning to work. This anxiety may be overwhelming for me and will affect my work performance. "

" I do not want to return to work and feel pressure to do this. I want to work from home all the time "

Anxiety UK have seen a huge rise in calls from people expressing their complete dread at the prospect of lockdown's end. This poem by Angela sums up "Leaving lockdown".

We're following this roadmap with excitement in the air,

A year of being locked down and we're so very nearly there,

People ask if I'm happy, assume I'm so relieved,

The truth is I'm terrified and I don't want to leave.

For me the last 12 months have brought a lot of peace,

Compared to "normal" life my anxiety decreased,

I haven't had to cope with getting out the door,

On days when staying at home would help me so much more.

I wake up with deep dread knowing the end is near,

I turn off the news because it's fuelling all my fear,

Please don't misunderstand me, please don't get me wrong,

I want the world to be safe, I want the virus gone.

It's just that in that safety my own comfort will dispel,

I'll be forced to face "reality" and I don't do that well,

While many have felt lonely and so isolated too,

Me?….I've felt an inner peace the whole way through.

I'd created a world within the world that really worked for me,

I thrived in many ways that were evident to see,

Now I feel such panic and the reality of my fears,

Is driving me back to my bed each day in floods of tears.

So while the world starts to turn and for those who cannot wait,

Show some compassion for those who hesitate,

Mental health is complex and we all have a story to tell,

But for me coming OUT of lockdown is proving to be my hell.

"If stress and anxiety are left untreated for a long period of time, it can start to impact other areas and quality of life, can affect your work or relationships and can possibly even cause other ailments," Dr Punam Krishan says. (BBC News)

"Create a routine that is realistic and set out intentions for each day that are achievable. Take your time easing back into the outside world remembering that you are in control of what you feel comfortable doing.

Connect with the breath – if feeling overwhelmed, remember to take a deep breath in and out slowly and repeat or step outside for some fresh air, go for a walk, call someone. These things will help distract the mind and help you to relax."

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Friday, 24 September 2021

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