Kitty Grew, 27, says that during lockdown her anxiety and agoraphobia, which she had largely managed before the pandemic, worsened.

One of the world's strictest lockdowns is lifting, but many are scared to go back to normal life

Updated 10:36 PM ET, Tue July 6, 2021

London (CNN)In May, as the United Kingdom began to emerge from one of the world's longest and most stringent lockdowns, Kitty Grew started doing dry-runs of the commute from her home in north London to her office five miles away.

Most evenings now, after logging off and closing her laptop, the 27-year-old unfolds her red Brompton bicycle, puts on her helmet and sets off down a suburban lane of terraced houses toward the city.
"I have been trying to practice, to go out every day and go a bit further and a bit further," said Grew, who works as a project manager for Britain's National Health Service, helping to organize London's Covid-19 vaccination rollout.
These practice runs, which she describes as a kind of exposure therapy, are her way of mentally preparing for a return to the office in August or September -- the date has yet to be decided.
"It's like training to run a marathon," she added.
Before the pandemic, Grew would take the bus or the London Underground to work. But during lockdown her anxiety and agoraphobia, which she had kept at bay before, worsened. Leaving home, even to walk around her neighborhood, became daunting.
The last time she went on the Tube -- now plastered with signs asking passengers to wear masks and maintain social distancing -- was in January 2020.