Norfolk psychologists on ‘fear’ of breaking out of lockdown
Norfolk psychologists have warned of a period of anxiety as lockout restrictions are relaxed and rules such as social distancing end.
England will take a big step towards normalcy on May 17, with indoor gatherings for up to six people or two households again allowed.
Restaurant and pub goers can sit inside, while loved ones will be allowed to kiss for the first time in over a year.
But experts believe the series of changes could pose problems for those who don’t feel ready to make such dramatic adjustments, especially in the wake of a deadly pandemic.
Karen Bonthelius, who heads the private life counseling practice in Watton, said people have become “conditioned” to a new way of life.
She added: “We’ve been institutionalized for over a year, so it’s going to be weird when someone says ‘you don’t need to wear a mask anymore’.
“Some people are constantly working from home and the prospect of returning home creates tremendous anxiety. There’s the thought of commuting and knowing if you’re safe even touching things in the office.
“Others wonder ‘if I hug Grandma, am I going to give her Covid?’
“Without realizing it, people can be stressed by little things, but they are subconscious anxieties.”
But Ms Bonthelius stressed that the key was to find a coping mechanism to
“Take baby steps; be careful, ”she said. “Go with what you really feel inside.
“Ask yourself if you are ready to go for that meal with friends. You will be allowed to do so, but because we are so conditioned, it is natural to have doubts.
“I was looking at the positives and asking ‘what are you looking forward to?'”
Julie de Ruiter, a Norwich-based therapist, said the coming months would be different for everyone.
“Some will like to go back to normal, while others are very fearful,” added Ms. de Ruiter.
“The whole ‘stay home stay safe’ message is problematic, because the antithesis is that ‘if you go out, you are not safe’.
“For some, the best strategy is to make a plan for what you’re going to do and discuss it with your friends and family.”