The Coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lock down has affected us all in different ways, for some being able to step of the treadmill of busy life for a while has given them the time to reflect and maybe even make the changes going forward they had been talking about for years but had never had the time or head space to do!
While for others having all the extra time behind closed doors, whether on their own, with family or loved ones has allowed the fear and the power of ‘what if’ to grow and feed of their individual worries and concerns. For some people with mental health issues the security and comfort of being at home has allowed them the space to explore and work on their recovery, while for others the lock down has exacerbated their issues and for many has created new ones.
So for many if not all of us, for our own individual reasons, re-emerging from lock down and looking to the future could bring a tidal wave of different emotions, anxiety and fears, with this in mind I have put together some thoughts and tips to help ease some of the anxiety surrounding the easing of the lock down period.
Emerge at your own pace:
It is important that you recover from the lock down at your own pace, and not be influenced by others and what they are doing (I know easier said than done sometimes). At the beginning of each week set yourself achievable goals, which will help you to create a new routine outside the lock down one.
Keeping Informed using information from reliable resources:
Over the last few months there has been so much conflicting advice and information from many different outlets, which has left many people confused and scared. Using reliable facts and advice from the relevant sources such as the government website will not only offer reassurance but also help to counter the worry and or negativity that may be consuming the persons thought process.
Look for practical support from charities and organisations:
The pandemic has affected everyone in a myriad of different ways, and there are many charities and organisations offering practical help, advice and support on many individual issues such as bereavement, work, parenting, financial and health. They can be found on local council websites, the government website and by searching the internet.
Make decisions that you can and have control over:
Leading up to and over the lock down period, our choices and sense of freedom was limited and as we went into full lock down, to many it felt like the control of our everyday life had been taken away from us. It is important that as we slowly emerge from the lock down that we focus on what we are able to do and control rather than what we are not. It can be helpful to write a list on a piece of paper, computer, or phone the things you can change and then separately the things you cannot on another.
Focus on the now!
With so much uncertainty around what tomorrow and the months hold ahead it is important to focus on the now and try to enjoy and appreciate the present for what it is.
Sleep, exercise, and nutrition:
Good quality sleep is one of the most vital ingredients in maintaining good mental health. Many of us have difficulty sleeping at the best of times and during these unprecedented times insomnia has sadly become even more of an issue. As much as possible as this ‘new normal’ emerges it is important to try and accommodate a regular routine of exercise, good food and a sleep. Without wanting to spoil anyone’s fun, being aware of things such as to much alcohol, certain foods, to much screen time and to many late nights can on a regular basis be detrimental to someone’s overall mental health.
No matter what you are feeling – your feelings are valid:
Everyone will react and feel differently during the process of lock down being eased. Some will feel relief and happiness with a sense of freedom that they can live the new ‘normal’, whilst others may feel nervous, anxious and worn down, concerned about how Coronavirus is going to affect your day to day living, family, education or career. Whatever way you are feeling, know that your feelings are valid, they are a real response to a real change in your life and should be accepted as a part of your journey. Try to create coping strategies that work for you such as using meditation or mindfulness or creating time for yourself for self-care.
Anxiety in the elderly and the easing of lock down:
Feeling anxious about going out into the world again and seeing family member and friends, although being a big step in the easing of lock down, is also going to be very daunting for those who have been self-isolating for many months. The foremost anxiety surrounding Covid-19 will be a big impact on their anxiety levels, being around larger groups of people on the streets, in supermarkets and being out of their ‘safe place’ which is their home. Communication is key in this instance, let your family and friends know your concerns and worries so they can help and put measures and boundaries in place that will ease your concerns.
Anxiety in the under 25’s:
Living through the months of lock down have enabled the under 25’s to become accustomed to a false way of living them, allowing many to become isolated in their bedrooms with their ‘virtual’ friends spending many hours through the day and night fixed to their screens. Coming out of lock down and having to face the reality of the real world again will cause many anxieties as they have to re-introduce themselves into the social whirl of school, college and university and their peer groups. It is crucial this point that communication is encouraged around how they are feeling, and they are afforded the time and space to do this at a level they can cope with.
Last but not least, ‘communication’:
Communication and lack of judgement is key to aid positive mental well-being at any time, so the Coronavirus and easing of lock down is not any different. Being able to talk to someone you trust about any worries or concerns you may have is vital with the hope that it will help to dissipate those worried by being able to share them and talk them through, so please do not be afraid to reach out yourself to talk to someone or to someone that you think maybe struggling and need a friend, remembering always kindness is priceless in any situation and an invaluable gift to the receiver.
Mental health charity SANE – www.sane.org.uk<http://www.sane.org.uk/>
Samaritans – www.samaritans.org<http://www.samaritans.org>
Young Minds – https://youngminds.org.uk/
AgeUK for the elderly – https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/health-wellbeing/mind-body/mental-wellbeing/
UK Government Covid-19 – https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Local councils information – https://www.local.gov.uk/