On 5th November this year, the UK government announced a second nationwide lockdown, and the public were instructed to stay at home to reduce transmission of the Covid-19 virus. This decision had a huge impact of feelings of fear and anxiety throughout the country.
During these uncertain times, many have struggled on a rollercoaster of emotions, most feeling a common fear of the unknown, concern for their friends, family and themselves facing an invisible and mysterious virus, together with potential job losses and financial insecurity.
It has been a difficult time and inevitably it’s had an impact on mental health, anxiety and depression. Feelings of isolation, loneliness, fear of one’s own health and that of others, plus money concerns are just a few – and the added worry that nobody knows quite when this will all be over.
Online Therapy 247 has regularly helped people who have experienced mental health issues related to lockdown and Covid-19. Our therapists and counsellors have been able to help people talk through their anxieties to feel calmer and more in control, recognising fears and helping them to focus on coping with lockdown and these uncertain times.
Out therapists have put together a useful guide which highlights the 7 ways to cope with lockdown. All of us are in different situations but the biggest priority is to look after our mental health during this time. If you can recognise the challenges, you will start to feel more in control.
- Keep a Routine
The ‘stay at home’ rule means that routine can easily be thrown out of the window. It’s important to keep your routine, get up around the same time every day, make sure mealtimes are regular and make sure you are getting enough sleep at night. Try to always get out of the house at least once a day for some exercise and fresh air.
- Keep in Contact
Not being able to visit people doesn’t mean you have to cut yourself off from the outside world as this will just enhance the feelings of isolation. Speak to friends and family on the phone, set up regular video calls and keep in touch with others. Talk through your feelings and you will find many people are probably feeling the same. Social media has been very popular in keeping in touch with people and can bring feelings of normality.
- Time for You
It’s rare that we have the time to relax at home without errands to run, a busy commute or going to see people and places we would normally need to visit. Most of us have a tight, busy routine balancing work, chores, family and friends – so use this time to your advantage and have some much needed relaxation and ‘me time’.
- Fresh Air & Exercise
Getting out in the fresh air is very important and if you enjoy exercise, then this will indeed benefit you too. Exercise relieves tension and promotes a feel-good factor in us. When we exercise, our brain releases endorphin chemicals which reduce stress and elevate our mood. Whether it’s a 30-minute stroll, a fast walk or a jog around the block, getting out in the fresh air will boost your energy and improve your mental focus.
- Recognise Fear & Anxiety
Lockdown and the pandemic have understandably increased anxiety amongst most people and unfortunately it has had an impact on mental health for some. Anxieties may include feeling panicky, fear of us or our loved ones getting the virus, feeling we can’t breathe wearing a mask, feeling isolated and even doing things like going to the shops because everything feels so different. Be proud of yourself for achieving small steps and have real expectations, whether it’s nipping into a shop or going for a walk with a friend when the outside world seems so unusual. Talking through your fears with therapists, friends or family will help. Do things that help you feel calmer, deep breathing, meditation, listening to your favourite podcast or reading a good book – make a conscious effort to have these ‘tools’ which you know will help.
- Be in Control
Of course feeling in control is important in life and the feeling of being out of control will exasperate fear and anxiety. None of us can control the pandemic or escape the news but feeling in control of other areas in our life will help balance these feelings. Having a good routine which you can vary accordingly helps you to feel in control, making plans for the future such as considering holiday locations or thinking of a new skill you want to learn, will give you something to look forward to and help you to stay positive.
- Managing Uncertainty
Every one of us is feeling uncertainty and as the press and media constantly talk about the ‘new normal’ it tends to highlight intense change. However, throughout this time many of us have faced difficult challenges, and perhaps changed attitudes, or reconsidered new values and beliefs. It is important to focus on today and make positive plans for tomorrow and thereafter. It is important to recognise if you are fearing the unknown of something that what probably won’t Identify your real worries from irrational fears and if there’s nothing you can do about them right now, then try to put them to the back of your mind – or talk them through with a therapist. Mindfulness, breathing exercises, meditation and even yoga keeps your mind in the present moment and has a positive calming effect on uncertainty, fears and anxieties.
During these days of lockdown, it is important to talk to people that you can trust so that you can open up, express your feelings and talk through how to manage them. Some people have found that this year has woken up past experiences, drawing attention to memories, traumas and familiar feelings of stress and anxiety. Our therapists and counsellors are experts in this area and many of our clients have found their sessions during lockdown life-changing and empowering.
We can help you to gain perspective and to manage your feelings, giving you the tools to learn how to do this for yourself. If you are struggling or finding lockdown a difficult challenge, please get in touch.