10 June 2021
For many people, the easing of lockdown restrictions is exciting. It means being able to see family and friends and getting back to activities you’ve missed. But adjusting to life after lockdown can also be difficult and may affect your mental and physical wellbeing. While you may be looking forward to some things, there may be other things that leave you feeling anxious and overwhelmed.
During lockdown you may have felt things were more certain. You may have found the rules clearer and settled into a routine that worked for you. Change can be stressful – you might feel a mixture of emotions and face new challenges as the restrictions ease.
The following are all common feelings about coming out of lockdown.
- Fear – You may feel vulnerable and the world may seem unsafe. You might feel afraid for your own safety, or for the safety of loved ones. You may also be more fearful of social situations or being close to other people.
- Anger – You might feel angry or frustrated about the valuable time you’ve lost. This is even more likely if you – or a loved one – have advanced prostate cancer and are nearing the end of your life.
- Uncertainty – You may feel uncertain about what the future looks like, about your health, or about your financial situation. For more information on financial support, visit the Macmillan website.
- Anxiety – All of the feelings above can make you feel anxious. You are not alone. It’s normal to feel anxious about what your life with prostate cancer will look and feel like in this new and uncertain world.
Dealing with anxiety
Anxiety can have a big impact on your daily life. Some people feel so anxious that it stops them from going out and doing the things they want to do. But there are things that can help and people you can contact for support.
A lot of people are worried about the easing of restrictions – whether or not they or their loved ones have been affected by prostate cancer. You might feel anxious about being around other people after so long at home. You might be worried about the risk of catching coronavirus while you’re out and about. Or you might feel nervous about being around people who may not have had a COVID-19 vaccine.
As well as these coronavirus-related concerns, you might also be anxious about things related to your prostate cancer. If you are having treatment, or have had treatment for prostate cancer in the past, you might have side effects that can be difficult to manage. While the coronavirus pandemic has been challenging in many ways, you may actually have found certain side effects easier to manage during lockdown.
For example, if you often have fatigue (extreme tiredness), you may have got used to being able to rest or have a short nap whenever you needed to. It might even have been a welcome relief being able to avoid activities such as commuting to work or meeting up with friends. Or if your treatment has caused urinary problems, staying at home and not going to public places may have reduced your anxiety about finding a toilet in a hurry.
As lockdown restrictions ease and you begin to get back to some daily activities you did before, it’s normal to feel anxious about managing any side effects.
Ways to help manage your anxiety
The following ideas may help you to feel less anxious about things.
Share how you’re feeling
Many people find it helps to talk to their family, friends or employer about their worries and concerns. It’s important to let other people know how you’re feeling, and you may find they have similar thoughts. If you’d prefer to talk to someone you don’t know, you could contact an organisation like Anxiety UK or Mind. If your anxiety is linked to your prostate cancer, you could also contact our Specialist Nurses.
If feelings of anxiety and sadness grow stronger over time, you could be depressed. It’s important to tell your doctor or nurse how you’re feeling.
Take things at your own pace
Even though lots of people are rushing to spend time with other people or visit the shops, pubs or restaurants, don’t feel you have to. It’s important to do what feels right for you. If it helps, you could start off by meeting up with just one other person until you feel more confident. Or visit a shop at a time when it’s likely to be quiet. If fatigue is often a problem for you, remember that you might not have the energy at first to do everything you want or used to do.
Make a plan
Plan your day, think about how you are feeling and do things that feel achievable. It may help to set yourself small goals – perhaps a coffee with a friend this week, then a longer meal with a small group the week after. Building up like this could help to ease you back into normal life and help you feel more in control.
Find ways to help you relax
You might find that something as simple as reading or listening to music can help you feel less anxious. There are also lots of relaxation techniques you could try to help calm your mind and relax your body. For example, some people find techniques such as meditation or breathing exercises helpful. For more tips, read our information on wellbeing during the coronavirus pandemic.
Prepare for unexpected toilet breaks
If you’re anxious about needing to find a toilet quickly, there are steps you can take before leaving home to help you feel more prepared. Find out where there are public toilets. If you’re worried they may be closed, you can order our Urgent toilet card to show to staff in shops, restaurants and other public places. They should let you use their toilets without asking awkward questions. You could also order a ‘Radar’ key from Disability Rights UK. Their National Key Scheme lets people with urinary problems or another disability into locked public toilets around the country. These keys can be used for public toilets including shopping centres, cafés and train stations.
Changes to your daily life
The pandemic has kept many of us apart from friends and family. It’s unsurprising that many men with prostate cancer have felt isolated and lonely. As the restrictions ease you may experience mixed feelings of excitement, fear and anxiety.
If you’ve been shielding alone, you may have become used to your own space and company. You may now feel anxious and not want to see people. This is normal. But spending time with loved ones is important and can be a great way to boost your mental wellbeing.
Staying safe around other people
In England and some areas of Scotland, the guidelines on social distancing have now changed. You no longer need to physically distance from family and friends you don’t live with. Close contact such as giving a family member a hug is now your own choice. But it’s important to remember to only do what you feel comfortable with. If you are worried or unsure about what’s safe for you, talk to your doctor, nurse or other people in your medical team.
You may find it helpful to read our Common questions about coronavirus and prostate.
In most areas across the UK you can also socialise indoors with a different household. For many, this will lead to fears about safety and feelings of anxiety and social pressure. If you are clinically vulnerable, the government advise that you continue taking extra steps to reduce your risk.
Socialising safely can be stressful. If you’re worried other people around you may not follow social distancing guidelines, it can be hard to know how to insist. Talk to your friends and family, let them know your concerns, and explain what would make you feel most comfortable. Helping them to understand why it’s important to you will help you feel safer and more in control.
It may be a while since you’ve left your home to visit places or people. You may worry that places will be very crowded and that you won’t be able to keep away from people. Whether you’re meeting people outside, exercising or going to the supermarket, try to pick quiet places and times so that you can avoid large crowds.
If you’re still anxious about going to the supermarket, you could keep ordering your shopping online and have it delivered to your home.
Take your time and go at your own pace
You may feel more pressure to do things or see people as lockdown eases. It’s important to only do what makes you feel comfortable – but try not to become isolated. Seeing family and friends can help to lift your mood, particularly if you’ve been feeling lonely during lockdown.
You may want to plan your own path out of lockdown. Start by taking small steps – as you become more comfortable and confident, you may find that you naturally want to start doing more.
Going to medical appointments
During the pandemic, some of your medical appointments may have been cancelled or rearranged. You may have had appointments by phone or video call, rather than visiting the hospital or GP surgery. You may continue to have medical appointments in this way, or you may start to have some of them at the hospital or GP surgery.
If you’re not sure where your appointments will happen in future, you may find this uncertainty difficult to deal with. Give the hospital or GP surgery a call so that you know what to expect. It’s important to go for any face-to-face appointments, PSA tests or treatments unless you’re asked not to. GP surgeries and hospitals are continuing to take extra steps to make sure you’re safe – your safety is always a priority for them.
If you’re worried or have any questions about your treatment or appointments, speak to your doctor or nurse. You may also find it helpful to read our information about coronavirus and prostate cancer.
Accepting changes in yourself
A lot has changed over the past year and you may feel that you’ve changed from the person you were before the pandemic. For people who have been diagnosed or living with prostate cancer during the pandemic, it may have felt like a very uncertain time. You may feel that you’ve lost valuable time, or the chance to make new relationships or friendships. You may feel like you have lost hope for your future.
Your physical health may also have changed over the past year. Coming out of lockdown can be a difficult reminder of these changes, particularly if you’re now unable to do some of the activities you did before the pandemic.
Talking about how you feel with those close to you may help you cope with things. Or you could talk to someone who understands what you’re going through on our online community, through our one-to-one support service, or in a support group. Many support groups are holding meetings online at the moment.
Dealing with loss or grief
Many people who have lost a loved one during the pandemic have had to face grief in a very unusual way. You may not have been able to say goodbye to your loved one or had the support you needed from family and friends. Grief can be a lonely time – and not having people around to support you may have made it even more difficult.
Now that lockdown restrictions have eased, you may see people for the first time since your loved one died. You might decide to have a special service or informal event to remember them. People may want to talk about your loved one and ask how you’re feeling. This can be difficult to deal with. But talking about the grief and pain you are feeling can often help.
You may also want to contact organisations that specialise in helping people deal with loss and grief. Cruse Bereavement Care have information and a free helpline for anyone who is dealing with bereavement or grief.