We’ve been in this lockdown hokey-cokey for a while now. In, out, in, out — less of the shaking it all about — for an entire year, give or take. That it’s been tough is an understatement. For many people, their lives have changed irrevocably. They may have changed careers, discovered new paths, even taken part in the COVID-19 baby boom. Some, unfortunately, have lost loved ones or are feeling the lingering effects of their own corona infections.
A Brave And Fragile New World
So, with the news that lockdowns have begun to loosen in many parts of the world, there has been a collective whoop! of joy. Much has been made of specific government provided dates — the countdown to when we can party like it is 2019 all over again! There is debate about vaccination passports, and how we can keep the positive things we learned during the pandemic with us, rather than dropping them as soon as we can high-five strangers. It’s a brave and fragile new world. And, it’s brave and fragile people who will be filing back into it.
How To Combat Post-Lockdown Anxiety
For all the celebration of the easing of the rules that have governed us for over a year, there are many people who are hit with a new fear. This has been dubbed ‘Post Lockdown Anxiety’, and if you’re feeling it, you’re not alone. A 2010 study found that it takes on average 66 days for a person to internalise new behaviours, and for them to become automatic. In a year of lockdowns, we’ve lived that amount many times over. We now automatically avoid, and feel wary of others, panic about personal space, about masks, about our elderly relatives. In fact, a study of UK adults that took place last year, found that since lockdown began, their anxiety levels had increased by 50%.
For many people lockdown showed them that the structures they thought to be solid — be they work-based, societal or economic, were actually built on sand. What will it be like to return to life with this new knowledge?
Other people found that a more isolated existence suited them well. An excuse to stay in, avoid small talk with folks they didn’t care for in rowdy bars, and being pressed against the metro window on their morning commute. Even the thought of visiting a relative you haven’t seen for a year, who will ask ‘AND WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO?’ is enough to strike fear into the hearts of those who have spent the time embracing their inner introvert.
So how can you ease yourself back into the world? (If you want to!)
Take It Slow
Only you can decide the pace that you want to reacquaint yourself with the world. Don’t feel pressured by Becky-from-school out drinking mojitos on her Instagram story. The world isn’t gonna run out of mojitos. People who suffer from social anxiety tend to compare themselves harshly with others, and it’s a really hard habit to get out of. A good tactic is to talk to yourself like you would talk to your best friend. Be kind to yourself — what do you wanna do? You wouldn’t tell your best friend they’re not as good as Becky, so why do it to yourself?!
If you want to start slow, you can begin by organising to meet up with one or two trusted friends. You don’t have to go to a pub or a bustling cafe, you can simply go for a walk like you did in lockdown, but observe and digest the changes happening around you. The best pace is your own pace.
Psychedelics Could Be Key
We’ve covered at length the fact that psychedelics, such as magic mushrooms and truffles, can treat a number of anxiety disorders including social anxiety, depression, PTSD and OCD. This post lock-down anxiety is certainly an equal candidate for the psilocybin cure. Psilocybin (a psychoactive compound in magic mushrooms and truffles), has been found to reduce activity in the Default Mode Network (DMN) of the brain. The DMN, to put it simply, controls how we picture ourselves — our self image, our understanding of our past, the imagining of our future — and helps shape how we behave accordingly. However, if this becomes overactive, such as in the case of post-lockdown anxiety, it can end up seriously hindering us. Various studies have found psilocybin to be a wizard at temporarily reducing the activity of the DMN. A 2016 study found that after a psilocybin trip, volunteers reported —
“…decreases in clinician- and self-rated measures of depressed mood and anxiety, along with increases in quality of life, life meaning, and optimism.”
There are a few ways you can use magic mushrooms or truffles to ease your post-lockdown anxiety.
Our first recommendation is via microdosing. By taking a low, sub-hallucinogenic dosage you can quieten your DMN, without the psychedelic effects. This could be perfect in giving you a regular boost of the confidence you need to re-enter society (as well as improving your mood, creativity and a whole bunch of other stuff!) For more info on microdosing click here!
A ‘Proper’ Trip
If you feel like you want a more full-on psilocybin shake-up, maybe a ‘proper’ hallucinogenic trip is for you. Going on a more in-depth spiritual trip can help you address the core of what is bothering you, and confront your fears. However, don’t be hasty! Think about your intention before you trip — what you want to achieve, ask, discover. Also wait until you are feeling well mentally — tripping while in the peak of an anxiety spiral is not the one. Depending on your experience, be sure to consult our dosage chart, how to trip for the first time, alone and/or get yourself a trip sitter (they can be online.) With any luck, you’ll find a whole new outlook.
Although we have recommended that you do not compare yourself to others, thinking about others can be a good way to ease yourself back into society. It’s likely that some of your friends or family are feeling similarly to you! Ask them how they are doing, and what they need. While of course you should care for yourself, caring for others too can make us brave. Maybe you can team up to work through your worries together. Together you can make each other stronger!
Come Up With An Ingenious Plan!
If you are feeling worried about slotting back into normal life, maybe the right thing for you is to make some plans to help you until you feel more secure. For example; perhaps if you are dreading public transport, look into whether there is an alternative method of transport possible — or if you can schedule your day so you can travel after or before rush hour. If you are worried about returning to work, maybe you can talk to your boss about starting slow, with a part work-from-home, part going into the office timetable? If you approach your worries with a problem-solving attitude you are sure to find a compromise.
Focus On The Positives
Maybe there are a load of things you have enjoyed about lockdown. Perhaps you want to keep your social circle smaller from now on? As long as you are not doing this out of fear, and it’s a groove you’ve really found yourself to prefer, then it’s something to be celebrated! You do you dear introvert! However, if you are hoping to make your way out again eventually, we have good news for you! You can’t lose the social skills you had before.
Linda Blair, a clinical psychologist, says that we develop most of our social skills between the ages of 0 and 7. “Sometimes they’re hard to get at and we have to dig way down, but they’re there.” confirms Blair. Phew! Well that’s a relief. So, when you are ready — whether it’s as soon as we get the OK, or when the time is right for you — your social skills will be there waiting!
We hope this have given you some ideas if you, or someone you know, are struggling. Remember, talking to someone you trust can make all the difference! Good luck!