England has been in and out of lockdown and there have been numerous restrictions.
The first lockdown was a complete nightmare for many. Resources were stretched far past their limit and the uncertainty of it all made people physically and emotionally unwell. I have heard from others that ‘this is the second lockdown, it should go better because people know what to expect’. There may be some truth in this, but we feel it is our responsibility as a mental health clinic to provide some tips to help you all get through this.
A key aim of lockdown is getting people to isolate in their homes to reduce the risk of infection, and although it has been shown that it is effective in doing this, reduced access to family, friends, and other social support systems causes loneliness increasing mental issues like anxiety and depression. After the last lockdown, it is vital to educate and prepare everyone about the mental health issues they may endure during this period. Below we have listed what you may experience and some tips.
You may become anxious:
- You should recognise the fear but also recognise you are not the only one feeling this way.
- Plan your daily routine as it helps in adapting quickly and managing anxiety.
- Divide your time clearly as work and non-work times. When you are working from home, this can get really hard (especially when you are used to physically leaving the workplace at the end of the day). Don’t forget to assign yourself a lunch break just like you would normally and step away from your desk. Productivity levels will differ when working from home and you may need a couple of days to adjust, most employers will be understanding of this.
- Identify an activity/hobby that brings you joy and perform it. This is key because it provides a nice distraction and helps fill up some hours in the day.
- For both tips above, remember to work in short bursts with clear breaks. It will help to maintain your clarity of thought.
You may feel lonely:
- Research into the interactive platforms that are available. Check to see if groups that you are already a part of or hobbies that you enjoy host meet-ups that are virtual.
- Spend time with loved ones whilst adhering to guidelines. We all have become more accustomed to ‘remote socialisation’. Have your Friday work drinks over Zoom or Sunday dinner over Skype. It’s not the same, granted, but it works.
- Be in touch with friends, family, and colleagues over social media or the phone. Continue to make an effort with the people you did pre-lockdown, they will be missing you too!
- Try to learn something new every day to keep your mind engaged. It doesn’t have to be something that takes weeks to master. How about a new word that you have to try and use five times? (We will give you the first word – kerfuffle). If you prefer something that takes some time to master, e.g. drawing, stitching or even picking up what you started during the last lockdown, do that. It is important to note that this is not something that you need to do to prove that you have had a successful and productive lockdown.
- Pen down your thoughts and emotions regularly.
You may find it difficult to concentrate or motivate yourself:
- First, remember that it takes time to adapt.
- Pick a physical activity of your choice like yoga or even simple stretches. Spend at least one hour per day on your physical health. It doesn’t have to be intense and there is no set outcome in mind.
- It is a good idea to meditate or practice mindfulness – both have been shown to improve concentration.
- It is important to be rational regarding the expectations we set for ourselves as well as for those close to us. Those around us are sailing in the same boat, so try not to have the sort of expectations that would make you feel stressed.
You may feel stressed:
- First, read our last blog post
- Exercise regularly, eat healthy food and sleep well.
You may feel scared about your health:
- This form of health anxiety is common and needs to be managed.
- Do not Google symptoms of any disease, trust doctors and trusted governmental advice.
- Avoid frequently checking the latest COVID statistics.
- Do not be hesitant to seek help if you feel like you need it.
- Keep time aside every day for breathing exercises and meditation.
You may feel scared about finances:
- It is very possible that Covid-19 and another lockdown has left you in some debt or has not left you with very much money to live off.
- You can consult a financial advisor over the phone, many offer free consultations. They will shed light on how to improve your situation.
- See what grants or financial support the government or your employer is offering. Also check to see what the companies/banks etc are offering – it may be possible to get a short-term holiday.
- The positive here is that you will not be going out, unless essential, so set a daily/weekly budget of the essentials you require and stick to it.
You may feel worried about the future:
- This is completely understandable and unfortunately tips for this are harder to give. To very simply put, avoid speculation and focus on facts. If your relative is telling you that lockdown is going to go on for another 6 months, take it one ear and out the other. Same for if you read it on Facebook. Choose your trusted sites and sources and go by what they say. Also, remember that we will bounce back – no one can give you a date or time, just be hopeful.
We remain open during lockdown as psychiatric and mental health related services are essential. Please contact us to enquire about any of our services. We offer nationwide remote consultations and socially distanced face-to-face appointments.