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While some may welcome the shift from stricter lifestyle restrictions toward a more lenient approach of living with COVID-19, others may find it quite distressing.

 It is important to point out that experiencing some level of anxiety is both normal and healthy. Although it may be an uncomfortable feeling, anxiety serves a number of purposes. Anxiety can act as a protective factor. When we are worried, we may be more alert and take less risks in order to keep ourselves safe. In light of the current situation, it is understandable to want to protect yourself and be cautious. Anxiety can also be a source of growth. When we are anxious about our present situation in life or about the future, it can serve as an opportunity to move out of our comfort zones and discover which aspects we would like to work on for a more balanced lifestyle.

Anxiety can also be connected to a sense of love & care. When we love others, we feel a need to connect with them but also a need to protect them. Therefore, feeling anxious about meeting those you cherish the most out of fear that you will do more harm than good is also understandable.

Keep in mind that isolating oneself can function as both a symptom and a cause of anxiety. This means that one may feel the need to be alone in order to control their anxiety levels or, in contrast, are experiencing increased levels of anxiety because they are feeling isolated. Anxiety and social isolation work hand-in-hand to create a cycle. Isolation and loneliness lead to more anxiety while more anxiety leads to a difficulty in socialising with others!

So how does one break this cycle?

  • Exercise: even if this is not a social activity, exercising can reduce anxiety levels and boost your confidence.
  • Connect: it doesn’t matter if your social circle includes one person or twenty. The most important thing is that you are feeling supported and that you are surrounded by people who leave a positive impact on your life. Let those around you know how you’re feeling so they can support you and respect your boundaries.
  • Listen to your anxiety and analyse its purpose. Check in with yourself to reflect on what aspects of socialising are causing the most anxiety and whether the level of anxiety you’re experiencing is truly valid in the situation.

Anxiety, like all other emotions, can sometimes become excessive and affect our day to day lives. If you feel that you need further support to manage your anxiety levels, reach out to a professional who can help you with processing the anxiety, finding techniques that work for you and ultimately leading a happier, balanced lifestyle.

References
Peterson, T. (2016, June 9). Anxiety Has a Purpose; Know It and Beat Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, May 27 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2016/06/anxiety-has-a-purpose-know-it-and-beat-anxiety

Michaela Pace is a Psychology graduate from the University of Malta. She has worked with children and adolescents within the social sector and currently works as a Triage Officer and Chat Bar Coordinator within Willingness Team. Michaela aims to further her studies locally by pursuing a Masters in Gestalt Psychotherapy in the near future.