Lockdown easing: Meeting face to face head on
As lockdown is easing, are you anxious about resuming face to face support services? It's understandable having been hidden away for months of late.
It was difficult having our liberty taken away and now we have it back the message is still "it's unsafe out there". Yet, we have to get back to some form of normality soon and for some, this will feel like taking risks again.
You may not think of yourself as a risk-taker but we naturally are, trying new things and doing things differently if one way doesn't work. It's this ingenuity and consideration that makes us successful and so a calculated risk is what's needed.
Helpful things to remember
- Everyone is in the same storm, if not the same boat. Unless you have vulnerable, at-risk groups in your household to consider is it time to walk out and take part in society again for you? Even with risks, the longer you stay inside, the more difficult the transition back to groups and crowds.
- Whilst your mind may want to 'keep you safe' as with all threats - fight or flight response to real or imagined physical or psychological problems - you can overcome this as you might at the 'best of times' with help. Take small steps you can manage relatively easily (I realise even small steps can be hard!).
- Get up and dressed, ready to face the world.
- Step outside your door and walk around, then venture further or to the shops and queue a while.
- Move wider still as you gain confidence, trying to put out the reactive 'panic' and anxiety about facing people or coming into contact with more than one at a time as you may now be used to.
- Smile and make eye contact and then move steadily to saying hello.
Keep the 2m advised distance even if it's reduced in future.
Take wet wipes for your basket or hands, wear gloves where you need to and a mask if preferred.
- You will need to maintain some level of immunity by mixing with others, even those vulnerable people in due course.
How this will help
- With each small step, your mind will be reassured it's safer than it was.
- Your bodily responses will lessen and become manageable again.
- You will be able to push yourself a little more each day.
- You are always in control of your actions, your choices, but you cannot hide forever and it isn't healthy to do so. You can make informed choices.
If people become depressed (and this may relate to you if you have been alone or restricted from contact for a long time, as well as anxious about the change back) they don't like it. They feel uncomfortable as though they don't have control over their options (and this is something every person wants and needs). They don't recognise that it is part of their mind taking control for survival, as if it isn't part of themselves - and that can feel scary.
Obviously, if depression or anxiety becomes permanent then it is important to do something about it and perhaps even seek support. People who successfully come through these emotional states have found ways to manage it. It requires them taking firm steps with themselves to change from hiding to facing outwards again.
Once you are out there, with any 'personal space' developments, your comfort bubble grows. Steadily and safely - because you are always in control.
Step back, turn back home if it gets overwhelming rather than push through the stress and anxiety but don't give up - try again tomorrow.
Now that we can go out and socialise (restrictions allowing) it's important not to think that people are 'out to get you' or spread the virus (they may not have it to spread it. We also can't assume that they are dismissive of the risks but instead, have themselves chosen their options and risk management - as we each need to in life.
Some people are 'braver' than others, and yes, some happier with greater risks but life is a risk and staying behind closed doors for many more months can develop its own problems for you unless you make informed choices to move forward again.
Remember, you have the personal power to manage your environment at home and outside. You can ask people to keep their distance, take your own precautions and avoid those situations you feel might be riskier than others.
Keeping yourself and your loved ones safe is commendable but they too have to venture 'back out' at some point. We can all do it by pacing ourselves and our energies and anxieties to maintain personal control.
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