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Blog: Managing post-lockdown anxiety

Published on 16 July 2021 10:03 AM

The process of easing lockdown in Scotland has been a gradual one. Throughout this period, we have heard concerns from older people, particularly those who had been advised to shield, feeling apprehensive about things returning to the ‘new normal’.

So regardless of your circumstances, if you’re feeling worried about post-lockdown life, we can guarantee you’re not alone. With all areas of Scotland moving to level 0 from Monday 19 July, we wanted to share some tips on easing any anxieties that might accompany this change.

There are lots of things that can help you to manage these feelings and make it easier to adjust.

Take things at your own pace

It’s up to you to set your own boundaries. If you’re feeling anxious about getting back to socialising, take things step by step. By starting small – setting a regular date to meet a friend for coffee for example – and building back up, you can avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Most importantly, do what’s right for you and don’t feel pressured into anything you’re not comfortable with. The move to level 0 will impact everyone in different ways, so we’d urge everyone to be considerate of how their actions may affect others in more vulnerable positions.

Plan in advance

Having a clear plan before heading out can help you feel more confident. Choosing times of day you know will be quieter can help with anxiety about encountering larger groups, for example in busy shops or public spaces.

If you’re visiting friends or family or receiving visitors yourself, discussing the measures you’ll follow beforehand might help ease any worries. Will you wear face coverings? How will you stick to social distancing rules? It’s much easier to stick to rules if you discuss them in advance and everyone is in agreement.

Use trusted information sources

While restrictions are easing further, they’re not disappearing completely. So it’s important to stay informed about all official guidelines.

Make sure you’re getting your information from up-to-date, trustworthy sources. If in doubt, the Scottish Government’s website is regularly updated will all the latest guidance.

Don’t suffer in silence

We already knew loneliness and isolation were huge problems among older people in Scotland even before the Covid-19 pandemic, but in our recent national survey more than half of respondents (53%) said that lockdown had made them lonelier, with the figure rising to 65% among those living alone.

We can all do our part to help end loneliness, whether by volunteering or simply reconnecting with an older friend, relative, or neighbour. Even just a friendly chat on the doorstep or phone call can change someone’s day for the better.

If you’re feeling particularly low and finding it difficult to tell loved ones, mental health support services such as the NHS, Samaratins and Mind can offer additional support in confidence.

Don’t forget, our free 0800 12 44 222 helpline is always here for any older person who finds themselves in need of support, comfort or just to hear a friendly voice.

Looking ahead

It’s important that any potential decision on restrictions takes into account how this may impact older and more vulnerable people and how best to support them through any changes.

The restrictions still in place – such as mandatory face coverings and social distancing - have offered a sense of security and reassurance for many when it came to getting back out and about after a significant period of lockdown or shielding, so the announcement that there will be no abrupt removal of these measures even as we move to level 0 will be reassuring.

Going forward, we hope that older people will be supported to take things at a pace which is comfortable to them and that they are enabled to make fully informed decisions.

Should anyone choose to continue wearing face coverings and keeping their distance even if we do see the removal of these restrictions at any point in the future, we would encourage others to show consideration and ensure no-one feels targeted for doing so.

It may seem daunting at first, but post-lockdown anxieties will ease with time. Nevertheless, it’s still so important to take steps to look after our mental health and look out for others as we take this next step together.

The full description of how restrictions will change in level 0 can be found here.

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