In my own practice I am seeing more people struggling with a range of issues stemming from isolation and uncertainty. Now more than ever, supporting each other is vital. As an essential service, counselling services are permitted to remain open to support people struggling with their mental health at this time. Travelling outside the 5km limit is permitted to attend a medical appointment such as counselling. I am grateful to be able to stay open at this time and I have online options available for people also.
Anxiety levels have increased, people are worried about their financial futures and many people are worried for their own health or a loved ones because of a lack of access to health screening and elective procedures. Loneliness is an increasing issue because of the winter weather, the darkness and the fear of being penalised for meeting other people. So what can you do to mind your mental health over the coming weeks?
-Turn off the news, Primetime, Late Late Show etc and the radio. Fear weakens our immunity. The constant reminders about Covid and cases etc will drive your anxiety higher. Listen to your favourite CDs/Spotify. Remember if something important happens..someone will tell you. You do not need to be informed 24hrs a day.
-Get outside daily for a walk or a run even if it’s raining...ideally in the morning time. Buy some waterproof clothes so you’re not waiting for good weather to get fresh air and some exercise
-If you’re off work due to the lockdown, draw up a routine for your ideal day and follow it! E.g. I’ll be up at 9, out walking at 9.30, bedtime will be 11pm. Following a routine and getting some daylight every day will set your body clock and make it easier to sleep.
-Insist on good sleep above all else- Make time to unwind before bed (not by watching current affairs!). Turn off screens (phone/iPads etc) for an hour before bed.
-Feed your mind with your favourite comedy programmes or music before bed. Laughter will boost your immune system and releases happy hormones.
-Remember you create your reality...what you focus on grows! If you choose to focus on fear and restriction right now, that will be all you will see around you. If you choose to focus on what you do have control of right now, you will see more opportunities for you to feel well (e.g. going for a walk, chatting to a friend, cooking yourself a nice meal, watching a comedy)
-Share how you’re feeling with family and friends...everyone is struggling to different degrees during lockdown. You are not alone. If you feel you need extra support, speak to your G.P or seek some counselling for yourself in person or over Zoom if you are more comfortable with that.