Many lockdowns later, we are starting to re-emerge from our slumber. Most of us will not be the same: and this can be a good thing. We now recognise the need more than ever, to take care of our mental health.
For many, it did not take a global pandemic to trigger mental health problems such as anxiety or depression, and this has been a daily struggle in and out of lockdown. I hope that this pandemic has made people more understanding and considerate to those who have fought these struggles on a daily basis.
We won’t all feel the same things. For some of us, even the happy, much anticipated changes and re-adjustment can be difficult for our mental health. And for many others the prospect of coming out of lockdown when debate is still live about the science supporting it can be a real worry. This may especially apply to those more vulnerable to the virus and those of us with mental health concerns.
Fear and Anxiety
These feelings will be some of the most common emotions as we ease ourselves back out of lockdown. It took so long for us to find routines and ways to cope through the lockdown that have become so familiar to us now. Many will find it hard to release this again and find new routines.
Take things at your own speed but try to challenge yourself by incorporating something different into your day. If something good happens, celebrate it! Enjoy the small wins because we deserve to!
Tips to Help Manage Fear and Anxiety:
- Control what can be controlled – make an action plan for things you can control; this will balance the feelings you get by things that cause you fear or anxiety. Not everything can be controlled and dealing with what can helps ease this.
- Pace yourself – do not let people peer pressure you into things you are not ready for. Such like going out for drinks or parties. Start small if need be and build up. People might have a different pace to you, and it is ok to give each other space and discuss this.
- Build tolerance – try challenge yourself everyday but do not beat yourself up if it doesn’t go according to plan.
- Switch it up – Vary your routine every once and a while! We have been stuck living a rotation of eat, sleep, binge a show, repeat for a year. Take your walk in a different park; treat yourself to M&S, try a new hobby!
What else can we do?
Remember when everyone was telling us at the start of lockdown to eat healthy, stay active, stay connected and find time to relax? That will apply more than ever as we remain in a period of high stress but with more demands on us.
Don’t let other people’s stories undermine your own. We are all dealing and managing in different ways. Social Media enhances this. Make sure to take time off your phone and in real life! This will really stop you from overthinking or having negative emotions that can be triggered by online media.
Deal with uncertainty in a healthy way by just focussing on the present.
What can you do today that will make your day? That will cheer you up? That will positively contribute to your life? Try switching off the bad news and focus on the good for a while.
- Enjoy the little things in life
- Talk to those who make you smile
- Rediscover a hobby
- Make the most of the sunny days!
Recognising the Issue
Recognising if you have any symptoms of anxiety is really important. If stress and anxiety are left untreated for a long period of time, it can start to impact other areas and quality of life. It can affect your work/study or relationships and can possibly even cause other ailments.
If you notice that you ask yourself every morning, or write it in a journal, ‘how am I feeling? What’s my energy levels like today?’ and you consistently feel the answer is low mood, irritable, worried, anxious, tired all the time etc., you need to do something about it. Speak to your GP.
The University offer counselling for students and staff which provides a safe space for you to talk about your issues or concerns. It’s healthier to explore it with an experienced counsellor than bottle it up and never see an improvement.
If they cannot help you, they will pass you on also suggest other sources of help.
They are currently offering counselling sessions by telephone or Microsoft Teams, so you can so from the comfort of your home.
I hope everyone stays well and can reencounter some of the joy of the new experiences coming our way again!