Anxiety During Phase 3
How emerging from the Lockdown is not necessarily a relief for someone with anxiety
Written by Anne Devlin, Psychotherapist at City Therapy
The current pandemic followed by the lockdown and now the easing of the lockdown restrictions has been an emotional roller coaster ride for many. I was recently researching anxiety and one thing that struck me as I spoke to people was how the lockdown for many brought with it a calmness. This might seem counter intuitive when you think of the high-pressure that comes with working from home, cocooning, restricted movement, and home schooling. But there is a different side to the lockdown that people who do not struggle with anxiety may not be aware of.
Someone who struggles with anxiety, at a moderate to high level, will potentially experience threat or danger in the ordinary everyday tasks that you or I might do automatically without a thought. So, take someone who’s anxiety interferes with their daily life, where making a phone call or making a decision causes an extreme anxiety response and whereby the body is triggered into a fight/flight state. The physiological changes that accompany this fight/flight state can include raised heart rate, sweating, dry mouth, muscle tension and headaches. Now take that state and apply it to some of the everyday things that you engage in through your day or week. While the response might seem bizarre, out of proportion and far-fetched this is often the reality for someone struggling with anxiety in its moderate to extreme form. Some of the things that might trigger this anxiety response can include, phoning the bank, making a doctor’s appointment, writing a report for work, handing an essay for college, having to talk to the boss or having to engage socially with a group of people.
So, as I moved through my research I got to speak to people who struggle with anxiety and those who work with clients presenting with anxiety and the message was that the lockdown brought with is a calmness. Firstly, those with severe anxiety felt less on the fringes, with a sense that everyone was now in the same boat, feeling greater levels of anxiety. Also, the lockdown brought with it, in many cases, fewer decisions to be made or tasks to be completed. Everything that would normally cause an anxiety response was now being put on hold i.e. chats with the bank, decisions about the future, doctors’ visits or attending social events. And now with restrictions lifting, the threat of what is now a close to regular life is causing increased levels of anxiety again.
In writing this blog I wished to highlight the importance of individual perception when we determine what is or is not a threat. It is also to highlight the struggle that many people are going through as life gets back to a new normal. People with anxiety would love to be more carefree, they would like to worry less. I believe it is a time where we need to show real empathy for each other as we all navigate our way through this new norm. People with anxiety are often really adept at hiding how difficult life is, so before you label someone as lazy, dramatic, indecisive, maybe take a second to consider other things that might be going on.
If you are struggle with any of the issues mentioned above or would like to talk to one of our therapists please contact us on 086378002 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.