Anxious for life post-lockdown? Dr. Alka Patel has some advice

Follow the H.A.R.D formula to overcome your fears of returning to ‘normal life’…

Just as it took us some time to find ways of coping during lockdown, we should also expect that it may take a while to find our way back and to reconnect with life.

To help us through the upcoming transition, Dr. Patel has created the ‘H.A.R.D formula’, a series of easy-to-follow actions that can help us understand our fears and anxiety, and allow us to evaluate and overcome them.

H – Hooked

Feelings of anxiety can be overwhelming and you can find yourself hooked into the thoughts of your fears. So, it’s a good idea to evaluate the reasons behind this hook. What are the reasons why you can’t or shouldn’t take action to return to ‘normal’?

A – Avoiding Discomfort

Our feelings play out in our actions. Anxiety and fear are uncomfortable feelings. When you feel this way, the easiest way to avoid these feelings is to avoid actions that trigger them. Ask yourself, what am I doing or avoiding doing to stop these feelings of discomfort?

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.

In order 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.

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.

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