As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the globe, many countries have ordered their population to stay in their houses for their, and the rest of the communities’ health and protection. During these unprecedented periods of isolation, the incidence of anxiety and other mental health issues have spiked dramatically – and continue to rise.
However, once these restrictions are eased and people start to see their isolation coming to an end, for some this is bringing a whole new kind of anxiety. For some people, post-iso or post-isolation anxiety is all too real.
Here is what you need to know about post-iso anxiety and what you can do about it.
Isolation and Mental Wellbeing
Along with physical health concerns such as hand washing, respiratory hygiene and hygiene in hospitals and workplaces, the COVID-19 pandemic has a number of mental health concerns. Since the start of the pandemic, experts have reported an increase in the incidence of anxiety, depression and other mental health problems.
For many people, isolation is extremely challenging and impacts greatly on their emotional wellbeing. While some people have been isolating with family members or flatmates, others have been alone in isolation, which can become incredibly lonely over the weeks or months. Even for those isolating in the company of others, they miss the important social interactions and routines that they are used to, causing increased anxiety.
Furthermore, many people have experienced increased anxiety due to worries surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the end or impending end of isolation has created a new source of anxiety for some people.
What is Post-Iso Anxiety?
As isolation comes to an end, many people are excited at the prospect of some kind of return to normality and being able to get back to previous routines. However, for others, there is a sense of fear or anxiety surrounding the end of isolation. This is being called post-iso anxiety or post-isolation anxiety.
One reason for this anxiety is that isolation has meant a welcome change of pace for some people. For young people, in particular, this has been a chance to slow down from the constant whirl of events and commitments.
Furthermore, isolation has eliminated the chance of “FOMO” or fear of missing out, a phenomenon that is all too real for many of the Millennial and Generation-Z cohort. This refers to that feeling that compels you to participate in activities not because you want to, but because you feel that you’d be missing out otherwise.
For some, isolation has exposed a new style of living that is slower-paced and allows them to focus on their self-care and personal development. For them, a return to the rat-race and the pressure of other expectations generates anxiety.
For others, post-iso anxiety may simply be related to change. The pandemic and associated isolation descended very quickly and people were forced to quickly adjust to the new reality. This meant setting up new habits and routines, which now need to be undone. This means the second big change within a short amount of time, which is emotionally challenging.
How to Combat Post-Iso Anxiety
For some people, isolation has been an opportunity to cultivate mindfulness practices that are very helpful in promoting better emotional health and reducing anxiety. Equally, carrying these mindfulness practices forward will be helpful in easing post-iso anxiety.
Another way to ease post-iso anxiety is to take advantage of the positive aspects of the restrictions being lifted. Think about the things that you missed during isolation, whether healthy socialising or spending time with loved ones, and make these a priority when isolation ends.
You can use this time as an opportunity to reflect on the aspects of isolation that you appreciated. Perhaps this has demonstrated that you want to spend time pursuing creative pursuits or helped you to work out the things that are most important to you. You can use this knowledge as you move forward into post-isolation and form new habits.
As you move forward into the “new normal”, be conscious of the time you spend at home or otherwise by yourself. Rather than slipping back into old expectations of time that needs to be spent out of the house, think about how much time you are spending at home or doing activities that promote better emotional wellbeing.
Remember that the end of isolation doesn’t mean you need to return to your old lifestyle, or old pressures and stresses if you don’t want to. You could use this as an opportunity to break from old, toxic habits and build the lifestyle that best serves you and promotes emotional wellbeing.