Coping with Anxiety During Lockdown

Who thought that in 2020 we'd be in a nationwide lockdown due to a global pandemic? We are official 50 days into lockdown and I've been thinking a lot about how I've been coping with self-isolation. 

Hand holding up a bunch of lavender in a lavender field

2020 was supposed to be a busy year for me. I had so many amazing things planned. I was supposed to move into a new house. I was supposed to celebrate a friend's wedding day. I wanted to go to Portugal and see my family and I was planning a trip to Kew Gardens and dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp in London. On top of that, I'm overdue an eye test, my passport and my ID card are expired and I can't renew anything until opticians open and it's safe to travel into London. Life has stopped and it's frustrating.

I'm fully aware that there are worse things going on in the world right now, that people are losing their lives and that my problems are small in the grand scheme of things. But my life amongst millions of others has been put on hold and I think it's okay to be upset about this. Nothing about this is normal and I validate the feelings of anyone who is feeling rubbish about the fact that they, and the world, are stuck in this weird limbo to prevent the spread of this awful virus.

With all that said and as frustrating as it may be, lockdown is essential right now. We need it to prevent the prolonging of this but as humans, we're social creatures and so all this feels pretty unnatural.

I'm an introvert at heart and so I love being at home. I love the comfort of my own sofa and watching Friends for the 26 millionth time. I like having the time to procrastinate and laze around in my loungewear all day and be able to do what I want without judgement in these four walls. But not like this.

What lockdown has been like for me

Lockdown was okay to start off with. It was nice having no commute to work and extra time to do admin type jobs. I liked having time to work on my blog, take photos and enjoy crafting and DIYing. I was seeing a lot of the positives of being told to stay at home and work at home and I thought "this isn't so bad".

It was about three weeks after lockdown began that I started feeling the pressure and anxiety building. I was either having really happy up days or really low down days. Some days I was so productive and was having a great time and the next day I wanted to cry all the time and didn't want to do a thing. My morale was taking a big hit and I started getting anxious about the amount of work I was completing and how productive I was being about my day.

I also started missing my friends and family terribly too. I usually see my friends at work every day and not being able to do that really got to me. I'm also really close to my family and I hate that I haven't been able to go and see them this whole time. 

It's also really weird going to work and having to be 2 metres away from everyone and not being able to just be next to someone let alone hug them.

Throughout this whole lockdown, I have been out shopping once and I haven't been out at all otherwise. I may have had a panic attack whilst I was shopping because people were coming near me and ignoring the social distancing rules. I vowed that I wouldn't go again unless I REALLY had to and we ended up being able to do online shops in Iceland for the next few weeks. (I'm still not sure how we managed to get a slot every time.) Yesterday, we managed to get our first online shop at Tesco delivered. I think we were able to because things are starting to calm down but I was so excited to order fresh food to cook rather than frozen foods.

I'm still really anxious about going outside at all and haven't taken any walks or been out otherwise unless it's for work. John asks me if I want to go for a walk all the time but I just can't bring myself to go. Luckily, I have a garden so I don't feel the need to go out for walks as much as some people might because I have a secure outdoor space of my own which I've used a lot during lockdown.

On some days, my anxiety has been through the roof but there have been a couple of things that have helped me cope with it over the last 50 days. I hope that these tips that I'm sharing will help anyone else going through the same thing right now.

How to cope with anxiety during lockdown:

Video call your friends and family

One thing that's really helped me over the last few weeks is the number of video calls I've had with friends and family. Being able to see them and hear them in one way, shape or form lets me know that they're okay and also keeping safe. Apps like Zoom, Houseparty, Facetime and Snapchat have been some of my most-used apps recently where we've played games, talked and celebrated birthdays.
I cannot count the number of pub quizzes I've taken part in (and lost). I've even hosted a couple too with the #bloggerspubquiz that I ran being one of the best quiz nights I've had. It's been a great way to connect and have some fun!

It's times like these that make you truly appreciate the internet and video calling services.

Learn something new

During lockdown, I've learnt how to crochet, cook a load of new recipes, use Pinterest to drive traffic to my blog, take photos in creative ways and so much more. On my happier and productive days, I spend my time doing something that I want to learn or work on something that I want to improve. It's been nice because I feel like I'm using my free time a little more wisely and so I feel better about myself when I do.

One thing I'm really proud of myself for doing is joining Grow and Glow. It's an amazing learning platform for bloggers and I've learnt so much about blogging that I didn't know before. In my ten years of blogging, I don't think I've been so happy about blogging as I am now.

If you can, and if you're in the right mindset, putting your mind on something productive and that makes you think is a good use of this extra time. Personally, it's kept me happier and more motivated to do something with my free time.

Enjoy unplanned time

I feel like I'm contradicting the previous tip here but as well as being productive, it's been so important to me to have some time where I haven't got anything planned and I can do whatever it is that feels right at the time. I've spent a lot of time over lockdown playing games like Pokemon Shield, Sims 4 and Sim City, watching Friends from Season one and getting excited when a new episode of Drag Race is released. Either that or I'm mindlessly scrolling through Instagram and TikTok... to name a few.

Lockdown has sent people spiralling into thinking they have to use their free time being productive causing more anxiety than before. I've certainly felt the pressure of having to be extremely productive and worrying about if I haven't been productive enough. It's been no good for me at all and I learnt very quickly to just stop when this happens. We can't be all systems go all the time, especially when there's so much going on in the world around us.

You don't always have to be super motivated and productive all the time.
You're allowed to have downtime and do whatever you want.
Enjoy unplanned time. It's pretty blissful.

Keep as close to your 'normal' routine as possible

Routine is key when trying to cope with anxiety. Being out of routine isn't always the best especially when you're used to structure. Going from a structured day to none at all can be stressful.

At first, I loved the lie-ins and not having to get dressed for work but after a while, it was taking a toll on my day. I was getting up later, I was lethargic and I didn't feel very ready for work in my joggers and sweatshirt. It was after just a week that I decided that I needed to keep some of my routines in place, even if I wasn't going anywhere.

I started to put makeup on in the morning at the very least or put something on that was a little more than joggers and a sweatshirt. Some days I'd wear joggers and a nice top and some days I'd wear jeans as if it was a non-uniform day at work. If you've seen my previous post all about what I really wore whilst working from home for a week, you'll know what I mean.
I also started making sure my lunch break was when it would normally be and that I stopped working between 4 and 6pm.

Keeping to some kind of routine helps you put constraints on how long you spend working, completing housework and helps you enjoy that unplanned time winding down, relaxing or doing whatever you feel like doing.

Avoid watching or reading virus-related news unless necessary

At the beginning of lockdown, I watched: Every. Single. Announcement. I began to stress about the numbers, worry and think endlessly about the virus and what would be happening next. Next thing you know, I had the news on all the time in the background and I knew absolutely everything there was to know about the situation at the time. I realised that I was giving myself anxiety by watching it constantly and decided that I had to stop.

When I stopped watching it every night, I started to feel more relaxed and wasn't stressing out as much as before. It's good to know what's going on but every night became too much and now I only watch it when absolutely necessary.

I'll watch the most important announcements and keep up to date with numbers once a week. It's good to know, but it's not so good for your anxiety to know everything all the time.

Talk to people about how you're feeling

Last but not least, talking is absolutely vital when you're having anxiety during lockdown. Whether it's to a friend, a colleague or a family member, find someone you can trust to talk to about how you're feeling because the chances are, you are not alone.

Throughout the last 50 days, I have spoken to friends, my boyfriend and colleagues about how I'm feeling and it's given me comfort in knowing that they're also feeling the strain and pressure of lockdown. Not that I want them suffering too but it's nice to know you can ride the wave with someone else.

Talking is such a great way to offload your anxiety and let someone help you cope. It's been one of my biggest helpers over the last few weeks and if it wasn't for the people around me, I'd be going stir crazy right now and I'd probably be hysterically crying for a hug and for someone to tell me that I'm actually doing okay.
Luckily, I do have John to hug, I have people telling me I'm doing okay, being productive enough and have loved ones to ride this wave with.

Pinterest Graphic about the blog post

What about after lockdown?

For me, I personally think that when we start getting back to normality, we're going to find it tougher than we're finding it now. This is new to every single person on the planet and we don't know how to deal with this because we never have dealt with anything like this. We'll be eased back into work, being able to socialise and back to some sort of normality but we don't know what's to come which can trigger a whole lot more anxiety.

We'll be getting used to commuting again, returning to regular work schedules and almost undoubtedly new health and hygiene routines.

Whatever happens, it's important to keep in mind that we're all in this together. Post-lockdown anxiety is going to be difficult to manage but I'm hoping I'll use what I have so far to cope with my anxiety during lockdown to help me cope after lockdown too.

If you have any tips on how to cope with anxiety during lockdown, please leave them in the comments below and if you found this post helpful, I'd really love to see you sharing this on your Twitter and Pinterest. Let me know if you've pinned it or shared it online by tagging me in your post.

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