As the US government shutdown drags on, many federal agencies are forced to close their doors. Some agencies have been ordered not to answer phone calls and emails while others have had to reduce or suspend services. This has left thousands of employees with a new kind of anxiety: “lockdown limbo.”

Woman in a protective mask feels anxiety and suffers from panic attacks. Girl in depression with gloomy thoughts breathing through a mask.

The present advise may be interpreted in a variety of ways, which might be unpleasant. (Photo courtesy of Getty/iStockphoto)

If possible, work from home. Be’sensible’ when it comes to socializing. We’ve gone to this location previously.

As the Omicron variety of Covid wreaks havoc throughout the nation, sickening and isolating thousands of people, we’ve found ourselves in lockdown limbo once again.

There are minimal official limitations – other from being advised not to go into the workplace – and we are not currently in a lockdown, but we are being told to be cautious and limit who we see and what we do.

It’s a kind of individual responsibility lockdown, and the outcome is a lot of confusion, uncertainty, and worry.

It’s also terrible for the hotel business, since they can’t receive any help from the government while we’re not formally shut down.

The difficulty with allowing people to decide on social interaction and what is’sensible,’ is that everyone will perceive things differently. One set of pals may be up for gathering at the bar and eating Christmas dinner as scheduled, while another may want to wait until the new year.

On top of that, there are near-constant rumors of imminent stricter restrictions, so some individuals are cramming in as much socializing as they can before the new year arrives. It has really put us in a condition of limbo.

Navigating these conflicting dynamics, as well as the mounting fear of jeopardizing Christmas preparations or jeopardizing the safety of your loved ones, is very stressful. However, remember that you are not alone if you are experiencing extreme anxiety right now.

‘With the recent introduction of “Plan B,” the stress associated with unknown, confusing, and ever-changing limits and standards has increased,’ says Paula Allen, senior vice-president of research and overall wellness at LifeWorks.

‘The sources of stress range, ranging from health problems to a lack of clarity about when and where to attend work and social engagements.’ Another major source of worry during this time of year is Christmas. With the UK likely facing a second COVID-restricted Christmas, “lockdown limbo” and uncertainty about how the government’s policy will evolve raises everyone’s fears.’

Paula feels that many individuals may have experienced a jarring and whiplash-like impact as a result of the abrupt return to working from home.

‘After several months of being without it, many workers will have become used to returning to the workplace and their typical sense of routine,’ she told The constant shifting of policy, like many other parts of lockdown, may be damaging to mental health, and individuals may be feeling the pressure.

‘Understanding this is a critical part of aiding and supporting them with any of these issues.’

‘In our latest Mental Health Index, we discovered that working from home can had a particularly negative impact on younger Britons, with 35% of those under the age of 40 reporting mental health difficulties.’

‘To execute their jobs, younger employees need more assistance than is generally available at home, and many more are experiencing poor workplace connections, which may have an effect on mental health, feelings of isolation, and productivity.’

However, our work environments are just one aspect of this weird limbo. We’re also balancing the advantages of visiting friends and family with the greater danger of contracting Covid and having to isolate ourselves, or canceling arrangements, which may be difficult.

‘Leaving the home seems like a particularly dangerous game of dodgeball right now,’ Hannah, a 27-year-old audio producer from London, adds.

‘It seems like half of my pals are infected with the virus — some of them are quite ill – while the other half are going about their holiday preparations as usual.’

‘I’ve always felt trapped in the center.’ Because last year was so bad, I don’t want to spend another Christmas depressed in my apartment, without seeing anybody. At the same time, I don’t want to become ill, and I don’t want anybody in my family to get sick around the holidays. I wish there was more clarity on what we should be doing and what is and isn’t acceptable right now.’

Vector of a sad depressed couple man and woman sitting back to back during COVID-19 pandemic

Do we have to cancel our plans? Should we still visit our relatives? (Photo courtesy of Getty/iStockphoto)

It’s natural that this condition is producing more worry, according to Stuart Duff, head of development at Pearn Kandola, since it’s all about a loss of control.

Stuart told, ‘Most of us live with, and like, daily stresses.’

‘It’s the pressure that keeps us occupied and motivated.’ However, a good sense of being under pressure may quickly deteriorate into a bad and exhausting sense of being stressed.  

‘What causes stress to develop from pressure? There are two crucial elements to consider. The first is a feeling of command. We will feel stressed if we believe we have no control over a situation and that something is being done to us that we cannot alter.’

The second issue, according to Stuart, is uncertainty. We all want certainty about the future to help us make choices and feel in control of our activities; nevertheless, if we are uncertain or the situation is ambiguous, we will be stressed.  

‘Being in lockdown limbo is the worst of all worlds since we are facing limits again – so we sense a lack of control over our own position – and we have no clue when or how the rules will expire, so we lack clarity and assurance,’ says the author. Stuart clarifies.

‘Also, if some people cancel their Christmas parties while others get together and celebrate, it adds to the lack of clarity and doubt about what is the correct and best option to make — leading to more stress and unhappiness for everyone.’

How to deal with limbo lockdown anxiety

It’s unsurprising that concern levels over Covid have risen once again.

According to a recent survey, 63 percent of individuals have experienced’significant stress’ as a consequence of the pandemic’s unpredictability in our lives.

Poor sleep, susceptibility to disease, low mood, irritability, panic attacks, and a variety of other unpleasant anxiety symptoms are all possible outcomes.

If you’re concerned about your mental health and believe it’s deteriorating, see your doctor right away. However, there are a few basic tactics you may take to assist maintain a healthy mood and reduce stress:

Concentrate on your breathing. Chatty Dobson, Yoga Teacher and Owner of FLEX Chelsea, teaches that there are many easy techniques to use the breath to relax your mind and body:

‘The simplest way to deal with anxiety is to sit down and breathe. If you count your breaths, you’ll see that your inhale is Yang (active) and your exhale is Yin (calming), therefore if you can make your exhale longer than your inhale, you’ll feel more relaxed.

‘You may do this in your bed, against a wall, on a chair, as erect as possible with hands in your lap or one on the heart and one on the belly, whichever is most comfortable for you.’

‘Inhale to a slow count of 4, exhale to a slow count of 6, then repeat as many times as you can.

‘Doing a basic sun salutation is also beneficial for anxiety because it turns into a simple moving meditation, and after two or three times you forget what you were doing.’ You get into the rhythm and flow of the breath and motions if you concentrate on them, and it may take your mind off other things.’

Take a walk outdoors. Breathing in fresh air and taking in the sights and sounds of nature is a simple method to reduce stress and anxiety.

Going for a walk is a great method to do this while also maintaining your level of exercise, which is particularly crucial if you work from home.

If you’re avoiding confined locations, you may also utilize this time to have a socially separated catch-up with pals.

Further reading: Coronavirus

Make your body move. Exercise is one of the most effective natural stress relievers; the NHS has lately begun prescribing boxing sessions as a therapy for mental health concerns including depression.

Attending a fitness class is a terrific way to get out of your brain while exercising. If you prefer not to work out in a group, consider an at-home exercise to get your body moving.

Have a restful night’s sleep. Sleep, as we all know, is an effective stress reliever, and waking up well rested is the greatest way to start your day. Stress and worry, on the other hand, may make obtaining a decent night’s sleep seem impossible.

Covid stress has been linked to both sleep deprivation and poor sleep quality in studies. 

It’s important to invest in your sleep health by developing a solid bedtime routine, going to bed at the same time every night, and avoiding triggers like coffee, alcohol, and glancing at your phone before bed.

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