5 ways to adjust to easing COVID restrictions

Blog by Nadine Garland

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Many people with RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) have been shielding for almost 2 years now and the thought of the easing of restrictions is challenging at best. With yesterday’s announcement that England will be lifting all COVID restrictions in April, we have heard that many people have been mocked and criticised for their fears and for continuing to wear a mask in public. So, we thought we would put together 5 top tips for navigating your way through the next phase of living with COVID19.

1. Wash your hands!

This should really go without saying but keep up the good work with hand hygiene. Long before the pandemic WHO (World Health Organisation) said ‘Hands are the main pathways of germ transmission… Hand hygiene is therefore the most important measure to avoid the transmission of harmful germs and prevent health care-associated infections.’

You can’t control how often or well others wash their hands, but you can take care of your own hand hygiene. The regular use of alcohol based hand rub (ABHR) is one thing we’d recommend we never stop doing now that it’s become routine. 

2. You do you

Go at your own pace and choose the things you really want to do. If you feel safer wearing a mask in public places, then do it. There are no rules saying that you can’t, just guidelines that you don’t have to. Start small, like meeting up at a café that has outdoor seating, see how that feels, then build from that. Want to go to the cinema or theatre but are worried about crowds? Select an ‘off-peak’ time when it’s not too busy. 

3. Make a plan

If you have a big event coming up, plan a few small outings before that will help you get used to being around more people, allowing you to get used to getting out again. Plan for contingencies, what will you do if you are feeling vulnerable? What will happen if the outdoor event you feel safe to attend must move indoors because of the weather? Ask yourself, how many people will you feel comfortable being around? Plan your escape if you do feel uncomfortable at an event and plan how you’ll be able to leave easily. 

4. Be honest

Tell others how you are feeling and how you are happy to drive yourself to the event for example in case you need to leave or ‘I will be wearing a mask because it makes me feel safer, so please don’t ask me to remove it’. You are not the only one feeling some anxiety or concern. Many people are still feeling isolated, and while they would really love to get back to the way things used to be, some are not ready just yet for full blown partying or crowds etc. There is support out there, the NHS have begun the Every Mind Matters campaign encouraging people to open up about their mental health.

5. Focus on now

You cannot change the past and worrying about the future can leave you unable to enjoy the present. Focus on what is within your control. Get all you can out of the moment. Enjoy being able to go and feed the ducks by the river, rather than worry about whether you are ready to head into London for a show.

For any further information on lockdown anxiety, the NHS have issues their own tips on how to cope with ‘getting back to normal’. Also, consider referring to our COVID FAQs section which we will be updating with regular updates as and when they happen.

Have you been struggling with yesterday’s news of COVID restrictions being lifted? Did we miss any of your tips for adjusting back? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.