First of all, it’s normal to be anxious when there’s such a big change for us as a society. I think the last time there was something similar was post-9/11 when people had to adjust to using transport at a time when people were anxious about that.

The “re-entry” syndrome people might be experiencing as lockdown ends is part of a healthy readjustment and something that people have to deal with when they’ve been off sick or on maternity leave for long periods.

However, the difference here is that we won’t be returning to normal as we’ve known it before and so there’s a lot of anxiety about what the new normal will look like. It’s important that people take it slowly. Try not to rush back into all your old activities and routines at once.

The second thing is to be compassionate towards others who may well be anxious or confused themselves. There’s going to be some friction and a readjustment period as we get used to being together again.

Often, when people have anticipatory anxiety, they imagine the worst, so an important part of treatments like CBT is getting people to stop catastrophising and start actively countering their negative thoughts by visualising positive scenarios. The reality is life is going to be somewhere between the positive and negative extremes and it can be reassuring for people to know that things aren’t necessarily going to be as bad as they fear.

Another tip for those first few times you go out would be to do simple mindfulness exercises that can help people to feel present and grounded. Things like deep breathing and focusing on your senses can take you away from your negative thoughts and help you to feel more present.


How England’s Covid lockdown will be lifted


Step 1, part 1

All pupils and college students return fully.
People can meet one other person outside, not just for exercise. Care home residents can receive one regular, named visitor.
The “stay at home” order will otherwise stay in place.

Step 1, part 2

Outdoor gatherings allowed of up to six people, or two households if this is larger, not just in parks but also gardens.
Outdoor sport for children and adults will be allowed.
The official stay at home order will end, but people will be encouraged to stay local.
People will still be asked to work from home where possible, with no overseas travel allowed beyond the current small number of exceptions.

Step 2

The official outline plan states that the next steps will rely on data, and the dates given mean “no earlier than”. In step two, there will be a reopening of non-essential retail, hair and nail salons, and public buildings such as libraries and museums.
Most outdoor venues can open, including pubs and restaurants but only for outdoor tables and beer gardens. Customers will have to be seated but there will be no need to have a meal with alcohol.

Also reopening will be settings such as zoos and theme parks. However, social contact rules will apply here, so no indoor mixing between households and limits on outdoor mixing.
Indoor leisure facilities such as gyms and pools can also open but again people can only go alone or with their own household.
Reopening of holiday lets with no shared facilities, but only for one household.
Funerals can have up to 30 attendees, while weddings, receptions and wakes can have 15.

Step 3

Again with the caveat “no earlier than 17 May”, depending on data, vaccination levels and current transmission rates.

Step 3 entails that most mixing rules are lifted outdoors, with a limit of 30 people meeting in parks or gardens.
Indoor mixing will be allowed, up to six people or, if it is more people, two households.
Indoor venues such as the inside of pubs and restaurants, hotels and B&Bs, play centres, cinemas and group exercise classes will reopen. The new indoor and outdoor mixing limits will remain for pubs and other hospitality venues.

For sport, indoor venues can have up to 1,000 spectators or half capacity, whichever is lower; outdoors the limit will be 4,000 people or half capacity, whichever is lower. Very large outdoor seated venues, such as big football stadiums, where crowds can be spread out, will have a limit of 10,000 people, or a quarter full, whichever is fewer.
Weddings will be allowed a limit of 30 people, with other events such as christenings and barmitzvahs also permitted.

This will be the earliest date at which international holidays could resume, subject to a separate review.

Step 4

No earlier than 21 June, all legal limits will be removed on mixing, and the last sectors to remain closed, such as nightclubs, will reopen. Large events can take place.

Peter Walker Political correspondent

It’s important to try to tolerate some of the discomfort and not to avoid going out. A lot of us have become very comfortable in our current routines and making big changes can be difficult. But ultimately people need to expose themselves in a safe and incremental way to some of the discomfort if they want to come out of lockdown successfully.

People who are really struggling, perhaps because they suffer with social anxiety or OCD for example, might need to seek professional help. Mental health services are open and still taking referrals. It’s really important, particularly for people suffering from OCD or PTSD-like symptoms, to talk to their GP and try to get referred to a mental health service. There’s very effective therapy available and, if needed, medication. The main thing is that no one suffers in silence.

This content first appear on the guardian

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