Moving out of shielding: Managing anxiety & worry Published April 2021 With restrictions being eased across the UK, we understand that some people affected by PH may feel worried, particularly after shielding for so long. If you do feel anxious, it’s perfectly ok – everyone is different, and while some may leap back into ‘normal’, there are many feeling more cautious. Do what feels right for you. Go at your own pace. It took time to adjust to the restrictions and it will take time to adjust to them being lifted. Just because you’re ‘allowed’ to do things, it doesn’t mean you have to do them! Meeting up with loved ones Build up slowly if you feel worried. Meet one person first, and then go from there. Meeting in a private garden (if restrictions in your area allow) can remove the worry of a meeting place being crowded. If you do choose a public place, go early in the morning or later in the evening, when it is likely to be quieter. Make a plan with the person / people you are meeting and agree what you’ll do. For example, agree that you won’t sit closer than two metres, or if you’re meeting for a picnic, agree to take your own cutlery. This will help you feel more prepared and reassured. Talk to your loved ones in advance if you have worries or concerns about meeting up with them. They might be able to help you manage that worry and make things easier for you. Going back to work The key here is to communicate with your employer, particularly if you feel worried. Would a phased return be possible? Or, if you’ve been working from home, could you continue to do so for part of the week? Ask your employer what adjustments have been made to ensure your workplace is ‘covid-secure’. What safety measures are in place? If your colleagues have been working whilst you have been shielding, you could contact them to ask them about their experiences and what measures are in place. It may help you to know what to expect when you return. If you’re having difficulties around returning to work, you can get advice on your specific situation and your employment rights by visiting the Acas website or calling the Acas helpline on 0300 123 1100. Supermarket shopping You may now be visiting supermarkets for the first time in a long time. All supermarkets now provide sanitising stations on entry (and sometimes on exit too) so you can wipe down your trolley or basket and sanitise your hands. Some have one-way systems in place, and some have number restrictions in place to limit the amount of people in the store at any one time. Try and plan your visits for quieter times of the day (such as early morning or late evening) and make the most of 24-hour supermarkets. Using contactless payment instead of cash is a good idea. Medical appointments It is vital that you keep your medical appointments, even if you’re feeling worried. GP surgeries and hospitals are very safe and are all taking extra precautions. If you’re concerned, call ahead and check what measures they have in place, so you know what to expect. The benefits of attending medical appointments heavily outweigh any risk. Enjoying hospitality Pubs, cafes and restaurants are slowly being allowed to open, with restrictions. But just because they are open, it doesn’t mean you have to go. Go when you are ready, and don’t be afraid to turn down invitations if it’s not the right time for you. Ease yourself in gently by making bookings for weekdays when places are quieter, rather than weekends or evenings. Start by going with one other person only, or sit facing away from those you don’t live with. Hospitality establishments are required to have safety measures in place, so don’t be afraid to call ahead and ask for reassurance about what they are. You could also ask friends or family who have been already about their experiences. Getting out and about safely Despite lockdown restrictions easing, it’s important to take care to minimise the risk of catching or spreading coronavirus – even if you have had a vaccine. Take hand sanitiser with you when you’re out and about (keep one in your car, pocket or handbag) and use it regularly, particularly when you’re not able to wash your hands. Wear a face covering in enclosed public spaces if you’re able to and give people space. Most people with PH should have had at least the first part if their vaccine by now. There is strong evidence that one dose gives you good protection, but you still need to follow guidelines. Remember that if you’re feeling anxious, you’re not on your own. Many others will be feeling exactly the same way. Be kind to yourself; however you feel is ok. Social anxiety when you’ve not been with others for a long time is very normal (and you’ll probably not be the only one in the group feeling that way!) Concentrating on putting the other person / people at ease can stop you focusing on yourself. Take things slowly and look forward to better times. Need to talk things through? Our new Listening Line service gives you dedicated time with a PH professional to talk through any worries or concerns you have. Click here to find out more or make an appointment for a chat.