R – Realistic Goals
When shifting into a different pattern of action, whether you’ve done it before or not, ask yourself: “Am I trying to do too much, too quickly?”
For example, you might be anxious about returning to work and the commute that comes with it. To avoid fear and anxiety becoming overwhelming, think – what is the smallest step you can take that feels manageable? If you are worried about travelling on the bus, start just by standing at the bus stop for a few days and get used to the feeling. When it feels comfortable, get on just for one stop to practice until you can do more. You can then continue to layer these actions. While the fear of a long journey to work can result in avoidance, breaking this down into micro-changes can help to keep you moving forward
D – Distanced from Values
Change is hard when what you’re doing is not lined up with what is important to you. Fear can be a threatening emotion which means we hide, but fear can also remind you of what to do in terms of caring for yourself or others. Focus on who and what matters to you. If returning to normal feels hard, think about why you need to do what you’re afraid of doing. Focusing on your values will give your actions a sense of purpose and will provide the ignition you need to overcome your anxiety.
Above all, remember that it’s not a competition. There will be people who will be throwing parties, relishing in being able to throw themselves back into the middle of the action, but do what you feel comfortable with. If you’d rather see people one-to-one, that’s fine. Don’t make it harder than it needs to be. Post-lockdown anxiety won’t last forever.