3 mins. read

Cancer survivors and COVID-19: navigating post lockdown anxiety

When the roadmap doesn’t reflect your own: cancer psychologist and Perci Professional, Dr Simone Ruddick on navigating complicated emotions during the easing of lockdown

A distorted picture of people walking in a circular direction. The image is blurred to give a sense of confusion and unease, similar to how cancer survivors may feel during the easing of lockdown and Covid-19. Arrows appear on the image pointing in all directions.

Key takeaways

  • Mixed emotions: navigating how you feel at this time may feel complicated. Each person’s situation is nuanced, be kind to yourself if you are feeling anxious.
  • Recognise there is no right or wrong way to feel or integrate back into society: do what feels best for you.
  • Share how you feel: lean on your support network, discuss how you navigate the ease of lockdown and don’t be afraid to ask for the assistance you need.

With COVID-19 lockdown restrictions easing, people living with cancer could be experiencing a range of different emotions as a result.

We spoke to psychologist and Perci Professional, Dr. Simone Ruddick, about how to navigate these mixed feelings.

How you may be feeling when lockdown life eases

Many of my clients who have or have had cancer are expressing mixed emotions about the world opening up. Some are excited and relieved to finally be able to see friends and family again and regain the social connections and support they have missed. Others feel scared, anxious and overwhelmed.

For the latter group, there is likely to be genuine worry about going out and mixing with others after spending so long at home. Plus they may have health concerns about catching Covid-19 or worries about seeing friends and family that they haven’t seen since they were diagnosed or had treatment. They may look and feel different to their pre-lockdown selves and feel concerned about how people might see them or how to talk about their cancer. Others may be concealing their diagnosis completely.

There are a few things that might be helpful to think about as you embark on this period of change:

Be kind to yourself

This is not easy.

Normalise your feelings and emotions

It’s important to recognise that there is no right or wrong way to feel as you start to integrate back into post-lockdown life and a certain level of anxiety is normal for these circumstances.

Think about your social support network

Try and identify a good friend or family member that you trust to talk through your concerns and share your worries with. Talking about your problems can help you feel less isolated and more supported.

Plan ahead

Spend some time thinking about the things that you are worried about as lockdown eases. Are these real worries or hypothetical worries?

Can you do something about them? If you can’t then try and let the worry go. Distract yourself and try and focus on something else.

If you can do something, make a plan. What can you do? When can you do it? How? This will help you to feel more in control.

Focus on what is important to you now

What would you like to do now that you have not been able to do for a while? Who would you like to see? Where would you like to go? What food would you like to eat? Or sport would you like to play?

Look after yourself

It’s much harder to cope with these things when you are not meeting your basic needs: good sleep, healthy diet, regular exercise are a must.

Find out more about Dr. Simone Ruddick and her availability for one-to-one support.

While we have ensured that every article is medically reviewed and approved, information presented here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to one of our healthcare professionals or your primary healthcare team.

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