Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

11.46 30 May 2021


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People who are feeling anxious about the lifting of restrictions are being urged to return to activities they did before the pandemic in their own time.

According to a psychotherapist, it is completely normal to feel worried about socialising again after a five-month-long lockdown.

It comes as the Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced a raft of restrictions that will be eased throughout June and July in an address to the nation on Friday.

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He said the end of the coronavirus pandemic "is within our grasp" and that the country is almost back to a point of "enjoying ordinary moments" again.

Helen Vaughan, psychotherapist and owner of Maynooth Counselling and Psychotherapy, is advising people not to feel pressurised to do the same things they did before the advent of COVID-19.

People feeling anxious about restrictions easing urged to 'go at their own pace'

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She told Newstalk Breakfast with Susan Keogh: "When restrictions are eased, there's a sense of relief at first and then when some people think about certain things they used to do before, they feel anxious, they feel nervous or just unsure.

"Uncertainty has been the theme of our lives for the last 15/16 months and it's a similar theme when we think about going back to shops or cafes.

"I think people feel pressure, and they shouldn't feel anxious about going back outside or going back to busy places because that's what we used to do before, but don't be surprised if you feel anxious and don't be afraid to take it easy.

"If you don't want to go back to a busy shopping centre, don't do it, if you don't want to go back to the cinema straight away when they reopen, don't do it.

"Try to listen to yourself and do things at your own pace."

Customers with shopping bags on Mary Street in Dublin. Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

She added that people should "do what's comfortable for you" and not feel pressurised to do too much if they're not ready yet.

Ms Vaughan explained that anxiety is a fear of the unknown and we have all been living with uncertainty for months.

"Anxiety can sometimes be around things that don't really threaten you but you think they do, whereas [COVID-19] is a threat," she said.

"It's not out of this world to be anxious about COVID-19 and so many people are and they're aware of it, and a lot of people aren't aware of it, so I would just say tap into your feelings and know how you're feeling for a start.

"Try not to be hard on yourself if you are anxious, because a lot of people are, and also a lot of people who had social skills built up before, particularly if you were someone who suffered from social anxiety, they've lost a lot of those skills.

"So I think people just need to be patient with themselves and also manage their expectations, don't expect yourself to be back to 'normal' straight away because it's going to be a long process of adapting to the levels of normality that we're allowed to do over time."

Main image: File photo. Credit: Pexels from Pixabay

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