Feeling anxious as lockdown eases is normal — just take your time, says Dr Zoe

THE sun is shining, lockdown is easing and, finally, we can go to the pub.

There is an expectation we should all be happy at the prospect of life returning to normal.

Lots of us WILL be excited. But this can be an anxious time for many, leaving people feeling overwhelmed.

After a year of being told to stay at home, we have become used to leading quieter lives.

So as restrictions ease, it is important to take things at your own pace and recognise that some friends and family might be struggling more than you realise.

If you are feeling anxious, you could be more likely to experience panic attacks.

For people who have always suffered social anxiety, lockdown was likely their comfort zone – so things going back to normal is likely to prove stressful.

Then there are lots of people who have become so conditioned to life in lockdown that they will be struck by these feelings for the first time.

I have had them in the past and at the time it can feel overwhelming – as if you are dying or having a heart attack.

Take things at your own pace

A sense of impending doom or dread can wash over you.

Given how scary these episodes can be, it is important to understand what happens when you have a panic attack. Knowledge is the best remedy.

Symptoms vary widely but can include a racing heartbeat, chest pain, feeling faint or nauseous, sweating and shortness of breath. You might also find you have hot flushes or chills, shaky limbs or a choking sensation, as well as feeling dizzy.

Ringing ears, pins and needles, a need to go to the loo or a churning tummy might also affect you.

While they can be frightening, they are not dangerous. Panic attacks are a type of fear response – an exaggeration of your body’s normal response to danger, stress or excitement.

If you are worried or find you are having these attacks regularly, speak to your GP. Although life is getting back to normal, you don’t have to do it all at once.

Take it at your own pace and be mindful of others. We got through lockdown together . . . we can get back to normal together too.

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