Did lockdown make you feel safe and comfortable? Have you enjoyed working or learning from the safety of your own home? Are you nervous to go back to your pre-lockdown life?
You are not alone. Experts say thousands of Kiwis are experiencing heightened levels of anxiety at the thought of having to return to pre-lockdown normality.
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The country moves to alert level 2 todayand with restrictions eased significantly from alert levels 3 and 4, it will be the first time in seven weeks life will feel as it did pre-lockdown.
Malls, restaurants and schools will reopen over the next few days and most people will be expected to return to their workplaces.
Many will be itching to burst their bubbles but for others, the past seven weeks have provided a sense of security and stability from the unpredictability of the outside world.
And experts say those feelings are a perfectly normal, human response to extraordinary circumstances.
Registered clinical psychologist Dr Erin Eggleston said the adjustment to level 2 could be stressful.
"We've all had to adjust to lockdown; for some it's been tough self-isolating, though for many of us, we've have enjoyed that hibernation, time with our immediate family isolated from the world and a slower pace of life.
"Coming out of our shells and back to the world will be a bigger deal than coming back to work after a summer holiday but similarly give yourself time to adjust and get up to speed."
Eggleston, who is also the clinical director of QE Health in Rotorua, said drivers of anxiety were engaging in what-ifs and catastrophising about what might be.
"We've got to go back, so try to bring an attitude of acceptance to this and tune in to what is going on rather than how you fear things could be.
"Give yourself some time to slowly adjust to our new normal. Bring more focus to sticking to your daily structure, exercising, re-engaging with family, sport and social contacts.
"You may not be able to think your way into feeling okay about the new normal, it's about engaging with our lives again and allowing the doing of that to slowly drive the adjustment."
Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand chief executive Shaun Robinson said most people would feel some level of anxiety and uncertainty as the country moved to alert level 2.
"There was a certain amount of security in our bubbles at level 3 and 4. As we head back into daily life, people may go on a bit of a roller coaster.
"I don't think we will be hit with a tsunami of people experiencing anxiety or depression, we can moderate the impact by how we respond to is, just as we have with the virus itself."
Robinson said it was important workplaces heard the concerns of staff who may be nervous to return, and kept communication lines open and transparent.
Anxiety New Zealand chief executive Sarah Woollard said it was helpful to realise that it was okay to not feel okay at any point.
"It's normal to feel some anxiety when our environment changes and as our brains work out how our social, emotional or physical safety will be impacted.
"People have experienced level 4 and 3 differently depending on a range of factors, such as their level of support, the types of coping habits used, health and wellbeing dimensions and what's been going on around them.
"This means most people will feel a range of emotions about moving to level 2 which could include feeling worried, anxious or even feelings of loss or sadness. A key skill is learning to check in with yourself throughout the day and to make time to focus on your health and wellbeing."
Anxiety New Zealand counselling psychologist Stephanie Pemberton said there were a number of reasons Kiwis would be feeling anxious.
Separation anxiety or concerns about leaving family, children or pets, after establishing a new routine under lockdown, concerns about the virus resurging and having to face anxiety triggers you've been able to avoid during lockdown could all contribute to heightened feelings of anxiety.
"The lockdown has been a traumatic experience for many, and adjusting to another life transition can feel stressful and overwhelming, particularly after getting used to some of the comforts of being at home.
"Take time to notice and observe your thoughts. Try not to judge yourself for them - during this time of heightened anxiety, it is natural to worry about a range of different things. Talk over these concerns with someone you trust, or call our 24/7 anxiety helpline."
Tips to ease your anxiety
1. Talk to your doctor and adjust your medication if necessary.
2. Stay in contact with people you feel safe talking to. Share your concerns with them so they can help you put them into perspective.
3. Limit the amount of Covid-related news you consume to once a day.
4. Give yourself a break from your feelings by doing an activity you enjoy.
5. Be open to learning new things. Being inquisitive and trying new things, however small, can help focus your energy on something positive.
6. Move your body every day. Physical exercise, even if it's minor, can help maintain your mental health.
7. Write your anxieties down and rate them to put them into perspective.
8. Keep a routine. Eating and sleeping at regular times will help anchor you.
9. Have an open and frank discussion with your employer about ways to can be supported as you move back into the workplace.
10. Reach out to support services if you're feeling overwhelmed.
- Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand
If you or somebody you know is struggling with their mental health, the following are some of the resources available:
- Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor
- Depression and Anxiety Helpline – 0800 111 757 or free text 4202
- Anxiety phone line – 0800 269 4389 (0800 ANXIETY)
- SPARX.org.nz – online e-therapy tool provided by the University of Auckland that helps young people learn skills to deal with feeling down, depressed or stressed