The end of COVID-19 restrictions: Tips on looking after your mental health
All remaining COVID-19 restrictions in Singapore will end soon. As of now we all are slowly embracing the new norm by easing the restrictions.
This may bring up strong feelings for you: fear, worry, confusion, relief, or a mixture of different emotions.
You might be glad to see some restrictions going but worry it’s too soon to end.
This may especially apply if you or your loved ones are more vulnerable to the virus or have mental health concerns.
What are the mental health challenges, and what can we do?
The end of all COVID-19 restrictions might be as hard for us as their introduction was.
Society has opened back up but you might not have felt ready yet to get back to the things you enjoyed, such as going to the cinema or pub, mixing with big groups, or travelling by public transport.
The end of restrictions might feel like extra pressure to join in, with the added worry that people no longer legally have to self-isolate if they have coronavirus.
Just as it took us time to find ways to cope during lockdown, it will take time to find our way back and reconnect with life.
Don’t be hard on yourself if it’s taking longer than you expected or if other people seem more confident or sociable than you.
Fear and anxiety
Fear and anxiety are common emotional responses to the end of COVID-19 restrictions. You may not feel safe or ready to leave behind the ways you coped with various levels of COVID-19 rules, from multiple lockdowns to regulations gradually easing.
It’s important to make space for your feelings rather than push them away.
It’s only by building up tolerance gently that we can move through these fears.
Tips on coping with fear and anxiety Control what can be controlled.
There are a lot of things you can’t control that cause you fear and anxiety – but there are some things you can manage or plan for. Having an action plan for managing things you might find difficult can help. Pace yourself.
Recognise that you need to go at the right pace for you. Don’t let others bully or pressure you into doing things you don’t want to – but try not to let that be an excuse not to push yourself, especially when it comes to reconnecting with friends safely. Talk about your concerns with those close to you, but also allow other people to move at their own pace. Build up tolerance. Try doing something that gently challenges you every day, or every few days. Don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t go well but keep at it. Keep a note of things you’ve achieved, enjoyed or surprised yourself doing. Vary your routines. Mix things up so you see different people and encounter different situations. If one supermarket is crowded and makes you nervous, try another. If a walk at one time of the day is very busy, try mixing walks at busy times with walks at quieter times. Talk to work. Many workplaces are allowing more flexible working. If you’re finding it hard to get to work, or do particular shifts or activities because of anxiety or fear, speak to your manager or a colleague you trust if that feels right. If you have a long-term mental health problem, you may be entitled to reasonable adjustments as a disabled person under the Equality Act. Even if you haven’t disclosed a mental health problem before, you might benefit from doing so now if it feels safe.