Why the three-tier lockdown system is making us feel so anxious

If you’re feeling confused about the government’s latest pandemic restrictions – you are really not alone.

Seriously, you would need to be wired in to the news channel 24 hours a day, and even then you might not be able to keep up.

From the Nando’s-style spice chart of severity, to categories labelled high, medium or low risk, the latest way to find out just how riddled with the ‘rona your area is, is with the new ‘three tier’ lockdown system.

Tier three is the highest level of restrictions, with household mixing banned, guidance against travelling in or out of the area, and pubs and bars that don’t serve meals to be closed.

In tier two, household mixing is banned, you can’t meet in groups of more than six, and pubs and restaurants have to shut at 10pm.

In tier one, the only restrictions are the rule of six, and the 10pm curfew.

That’s a lot of information to take in. And, of course, it depends on where you are in the country, and the level of restrictions you’re under could change at any point.

This results in two levels of uncertainty. There is the uncertainty of actually understanding what you can or can’t do at any given time, in any given place. And then there is the uncertainty and instability of knowing that your tier could change overnight.

If you’re in tiers one or two, there will be the constant fear of restrictions getting stricter, and the threat of a more severe lockdown.

While the nationwide lockdown was draining and incredibly challenging in its own way, at least we were all in the same boat. Now, many are saying that the lack of consistency that comes with the new ‘three tier lockdown’ is making them more anxious than ever.

‘Feelings of anxiety can have close links to fear and control,’ Emma Carrington, advice and information service manager at Rethink Mental Illness tells Metro.co.uk.

‘The announcement of further restrictions is not only a reminder that we are still living in the middle of a pandemic, but also that it’s something that we have no control over.

‘It’s entirely natural to feel anxious during a period like this and it’s key to acknowledge how you’re feeling physically as well as mentally, as anxiety can manifest itself through physical symptoms, not just thoughts and feelings.’

Emma suggests that if you are feeling particularly anxious, you should take some time to really get to grips with the latest government guidance, and make an effort to understand what it means for you and your family.  

‘It could help you feel more confident about how this applies to you and any changes you’ll need to make,’ she explains. ‘Try to avoid comparing yourself to others who might be living under different rules and guidance.’

She also says we should be wary about how we consume our information, and how much we are trying to process at once.

‘While it’s important to stay informed, try not to tip the balance by taking in too much information,’ she says. ‘Social media can often be rife with debate, so try to limit your time online if this affects you.

‘Instead, make as much time as you can for the things that are important to you which support your mental health and wellbeing.

‘If you’re really beginning to struggle, talk to your friends and family and share how you’re feeling. If the situation is particularly serious, you may need to consider consulting your GP, as it’s possible you’ll need more formal treatment. They will have a chat with you to assess which options best fit your needs.’

How to combat ‘three tier lockdown’ anxiety

Life coach and psychologist Lee Chambers has shared his expert advice for tackling the anxiety that comes with fluctuating levels of restrictions.

Lee says it is no wonder that so many people are feeling anxious, they will

‘There are also the anxieties caused by large areas being under the same tier, when certain localities have number higher rates within that area,’ says Lee. ‘This may lead people to worry that those individuals will now take the virus less seriously and potentially spread it.

‘Finally, going into the autumn season with nights getting colder and darker, the underlying levels of anxiety are rising as we are getting shorter days, feeling more like hibernating and the anchors of bonfire night, Christmas parties and festive markets are unlikely to bolster us.’

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