I wrote a post the other day about social anxiety and it got me to thinking about my lockdown and anxiety experience. With all the articles out there about people suffering from mental health during their lockdown and post lockdown, I decided to give you the low down on what happened with me.
What I’m about to share is probably not what you think. Or maybe it is? Either way, if it stops you from feeling alone in the thoughts and experiences you are having then my job is done here.
I want this post to be useful and beneficial to you and me. That said, I have added affiliate links to this article and would love it if you decide to use them. 😘
READING TIME: 11 Mins. Or JUMP AND SKIM:
Friday 20th March was the strangest day at work I’ve ever experienced. I work on the phone and instead of making reservations I was either canceling bookings, giving advice on what to do with future bookings, or dealing with complaints. Fortunately for me, I only had one customer that decided to have a hissy fit about her booking. My colleagues weren’t as lucky.
Shiftwork means that work colleagues usually leave at different times and rarely walk out together. Not on that Friday. I actually worked home with a guy that lives near, he helped me carry some of my shopping part of the way. (I’d decided to buy a load of frozen fruit and vegetables on the way home, I was preparing as best I could.)
The usually very busy street was deserted and the people we did see scuttled away doing their own thing. The many shops that lined the street we were on were all closed except for the odd tiny grocery shop, what I call a corner shop even though it’s not on a corner.
The eerie street plus the conversation I was having with my colleague created a strange and weird feeling.
Can Lockdown Cause Anxiety?
This was the first time I noticed that there were two types of people moving forward into lockdown. As we walked towards our homes my work colleague expressed his concerns that he was really not looking forward to being cooped up in his flat and that he would be bored.
He had no idea how he would fill his time. He thought he might go a little stir-crazy and suffer from cabin fever. I know what cabin fever is…but at this point in my writing I wondered what the official definition was. Just out of curiosity. (And I’m not a cat, so got no worries there). When I say official, I mean Wikipedia:
“Cabin fever refers to the distressing claustrophobic irritability or restlessness experienced when a person, or group, is stuck at an isolated location or in confined quarters for an extended period of time. A person may be referred to as stir-crazy, derived from the use of stir to mean ‘prison’.”Wikipedia
Oh! I never knew that, the stir in stir-crazy refers to prison. Glad I checked. 🙂
I could see the lockdown was causing him to be anxious. I asked him some questions and made some suggestions, as to what he could do. He seemed to feel a bit better and we parted ways.
And the second type of person moving forward into lockdown?
That was me.
Precious Time And My Project
I had to contain my excitement when I was speaking to my work colleague as I could see he was genuinely a little distressed. I couldn’t wait to get home so that I could relax and think of my project and the time I would now have to work on it.
You see, just before everything kicked off I’d joined a community online. I’d never done anything like that before. I wasn’t savvy with Social Media. I couldn’t even tell you how Facebook works. I watched videos, googled information I needed, and found out how to get to places with Google Maps. That is what I used the internet for.
I was an anomaly.
I decided at the beginning of the year that I wanted to investigate and see if it would be possible to work online. It seemed to me that a lot of people were not only having fun doing that but we’re making money too. Could I do that? I knew I didn’t have the skill set but I could learn, right? That’s how I found the online community that I joined. It gives you training and support to do just that.
I joined them on 24th February and started to learn, learn, learn.
Working full time and then coming home and being disciplined to get on with learning new skills wasn’t easy. But I wanted to get on board to see if I could do it. I enjoyed learning and working on how to create my website. The community was amazing too with like-minded people I felt supported and could ask any question, no matter how basic as they’d all been there. I was tired but happy.
Then the lockdown came and I thought, “Wow, now I can learn and work on building my website all day, every day if I want to!”
And I did. I hadn’t learnt SO much in such a short space of time EVER.
To bring me to me next part I will quote from one of my favorite movies:
“There’s never nothing going on…”Socrates character from Peaceful Warrior
Indeed, there was a lot going on at the the company I work for and with me.
Anxiety About Lockdown Ending
Change Is inevitable. After the state of alarm was lifted I received THAT email.
It was Monday 15th June – I woke to an email from my company telling me to come back to work on Monday 22nd June.
It had been great while it lasted but of course, I knew that email would arrive at some point. No surprise there. Well, I thought, I’ll just get on with it. I worked even harder the last week of full time “me” work.
The night before the day that I had to go back I started to feel uneasy. I couldn’t pinpoint why at first. Was it because my full-time lovely learning and working experience would be cut short? Or did I feel uneasy about walking out the door?
Turns out it was a bit of both.
There was no shock about how I felt about the work I was doing online for myself. But walking out the door?
Then it hit me, I recognized that old feeling.
It had been so long since I had felt anxiety like that I didn’t even realize what it was.
Until I did.
Can Lockdown Cause Anxiety?
The thought of going outside and back to work was causing me to feel anxious. It was a mixture of thoughts. Having to interact with people and the hassles from having to deal with them on the phone plus seeing work colleagues again. I’d enjoyed learning and working (for me) in my home. Working at my own pace and not having to listen to people complaining and the stress that comes with that has been amazing. Now, I had to face people again. A lot of them.
Did lockdown cause my anxiety? Not exactly.
In my experience, external things (like lockdowns) are not the root cause of the anxiety. There’s usually something else going on. For me, the lockdown bought up an old (tiny) residual feeling of anxiety. That’s why it dissipated so quickly, it was just a tiny, old bit.
Let me explain.
If you’ve read any of my earlier blogs you will probably know that I used to be painfully shy and had social anxiety. That shyness and anxiety was related to having low self-esteem and low self-worth.
But that was a long time ago and I am not that person anymore. In the past, I’d already uncovered what was going on mentally with me. I’d resolved my state of mind and how I felt about myself and the world and I increased my self-esteem. Back then it was a big deal, hence the idea for this website. It’s something I know about.
As soon as I sat with the anxiety feeling and used techniques to cope with feeling anxious I recognized it for what it was, and it disappeared. It happened quickly like that because of all the internal work I’d done previously. I know who I am. I’ve built-up my self-esteem. I have high self-worth.
I know that is not the case for everyone. Not everyone has done internal work and they may be suffering from an anxiety disorder due to lockdown (or otherwise). With the lockdown anxiety it seems that people are in one of four different camps, so to speak. Some people have anxiety and:
- They have never experienced it before lockdown.
- It has gotten worse since lockdown.
- It has gotten better since lockdown.
- It has resurfaced after years of not having it.
Lockdown itself does not cause anxiety or mental health issues but it can trigger them.
Lockdown Anxiety Symptoms
When your emotional well being is disrupted, whether it is anxiety or another mental disorder, you could experience one or more of the following:
- Severe anxiety or panic attacks
- Problems sleeping or sleeping a lot (or a little) more than usual
- Eating habits change
- Cannot relax
- Irritable, angry outbursts
- Increase in use of alcohol, cigarettes or other drugs
- Upset and crying a lot
- Excessive worrying
- Restless, nervous
- Tired and lethargic
- Unusual aches, pains, and headaches.
I’m sure that is not a definitive list, but you get the idea.
Lockdown Anxiety Attacks
Going back to the four camps. Why are there four separate camps and why do some people not get anxiety at all? I mean, most people have been isolated for a period of time. Because of the reason I gave earlier, deep down, there either is or is not something else going on.
Obviously, if you do not have anxiety due to lockdown or any other reason than fantastic. But if you do, then let’s take a little closer.
The four camps show that either people need to go a bit deeper to find out what is going on for them mentally or maybe they just need to take it slow in getting themselves out there again (mild anxiety).
Looking at the four camps:
- People that have never experienced anxiety before lockdown – you’ll probably be sitting in one of two sub-camps. You may have mild anxiety because you haven’t interacted with people for so long and you just need to take it slow when venturing out again. Or your anxiety is affecting you to the point that you cannot get out the door, you will need to begin taking steps towards feeling better.
- Anxiety has gotten worse since lockdown – having anxiety going into the lockdown may have caused it to flare up. Maybe you don’t have your support network close by or your usual ways to help you cope. Or maybe you have never tried to get your anxiety sorted out?
- Anxiety has gotten better since lockdown – this may seem unusual having read the last statement. But we are all different. We all have a different perspective on how we see life. Maybe being in lockdown has meant feeling calm and relaxed and this has meant your anxiety symptoms have lessened?
- Anxiety has resurfaced after years of not having it – if you worked on your anxiety in the past then you probably have the tools to get past your anxiety quickly, as I did. But if your anxiety was never resolved completely, maybe you need to learn more techniques.
No matter where you are on the above list you can certainly do something about it.
Lockdown Anxiety Tips
How you move forward with your anxiety and/or mental health will depend on:
- your level of anxiety
- who you are
- what you’ve experienced
- your perspective of the world
Here are my tips:
- Take it easy. It could be just a matter of getting back out there and into your life outside your home. Be kind to yourself.
- Learn how to relax and practice Mindfulness.
- Work on what’s going on internally with your thoughts and feelings. It could be an old subconscious program that needs to be replaced with a beneficial one.
- Work through your thoughts and feelings with a professional therapist.
Am I Feeling Anxious About This Latest News?
I read some news this weekend as I was writing this blog post. The recommendation is to stay at home AGAIN. Another lockdown but this time not mandatory. Monday morning came and there was no email from my company telling me to stay at home, so, back to work as usual.
No, I’m not feeling anxious. It is what it is.
I take one day at a time and I find the joy in it, regardless of the outside events.
That’s my choice. What will you choose today?
This article and website is for information and educational purposes only and is not medical advice.
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