The pandemic has forced us to live under a ‘new normal’ for over a year, drastically changing the way we live and work. Many protective factors have become resident in our lives - such as staying at home, hand washing, face coverings and social distancing. However, with lockdown restrictions easing and cases lowering, the gradual transition back to ‘normal’ is causing many people a new kind of anxiety.
Covid anxiety syndrome has received a lot of coverage in the national press recently. It was first theorised in 2020 by Ana Nikčević, of Kingston University, and Marcantonio Spada, at London South Bank University, who noticed people were developing a particular set of traits in response to Covid.
Spada's expectation is that people will continue to be anxious about the virus in the coming months, and will avoid social re-engagement. He has explained that, “fear is normal. You and I are supposed to fear the virus because it’s dangerous. The difference, however, in terms of developing a psychopathological response is whether you end up behaving in … overly safe ways that lock you into the fear.”
There are a number of resources available to help people combat their Covid anxiety syndrome. Amongst the suggestions for first steps as lockdown eases are:
- seeking out positive news about the pandemic, such as the vaccine rollout and reduced death and infection rates
- staying within your comfort zone, and only coming out of it at your own pace
- continue to use face masks, gloves and hand sanitiser when/where it makes you most comfortable
- talk to someone about your anxiety - friends and family, or an outside organisation could help
- reduce exposure to social media
Lateral flow tests are a useful tool to ease Covid-related anxiety and are now available to all UK residents, free of charge. You can order one pack per day, and a pack contains 7 tests.
Other resources for anxiety relief:
Anxiety UK - Coronanxiety Support & Resources - Anxiety UK
Medical News Today What is COVID-19 anxiety syndrome? (medicalnewstoday.com)