Talking Therapies | Looking after your mental health over lockdown
With the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re now living through a world crisis, the likes of which none of us will have ever experienced before. This means we’re all facing new challenges and disruption to our routine that might impact our mental health.
You might notice that you are more anxious than normal, or your mood has been impacted; everyone will react differently to situations. If you notice that you are struggling with your emotions, here are some helpful tips from Kate Dyer and Claire Franklin of Talking Therapies on how to keep these at a level that feels acceptable to you.
Separate what you can and can’t control
In a situation like this, it is hard to predict how things will develop and circumstances can change very quickly. Worrying about what might happen is understandable, but if you don’t have much control over a situation, doing that can actually make you feel more anxious. Things you can’t control might include how long the situation will last or other people’s behaviour. For these worries, you can use certain coping techniques such as grounding to refocus the attention away from them.
A good formula is ACE:
A = Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings
C = Come back into your body
E = Engage in what you’re doing
One key thing you can control in this situation is your own response to it. This includes the way you think about the situation and your own behaviour in relation to it. You can do this by taking a break from checking the media if you need to, or by trying your best to follow the guidance that has been set out to keep you and others safe. Taking meaningful action towards the things you can control is also a helpful way to refocus attention away from the things you can’t.
Humans are, at our core, social beings. At these times, maintaining a network can be tricky, especially if you’re distanced from loved ones or need to self-isolate. Many people have moved a lot of their real-world social life online; seeing their friends/family via video calls or joining online groups centred around their interests. Think about how you can recreate what you enjoy about your connections with others from home or at a safe distance.
As well as relying on your social network for support in a time of crisis, remember that you can also be an important source of support for them. Think about what you can offer to other people. Research suggests that the happiest, most satisfied people are those who regularly support and help others.
Routines and priorities
The pandemic has turned life upside down for many people. The day-to-day impact on each person might vary, but it’s safe to say that the changes will probably leave you feeling out of sorts. Be kind to yourself and prioritise what matters most. It can be helpful to make a plan for the day or even the week. Sticking to a routine which has a range of activities that give a sense of pleasure and achievement gives you the natural mood boost you need to keep motivated. Prioritise activities that relate to your own values – what’s important to you? How do you want to treat yourself and others? Activity planning can also help you schedule in when to address some of the practical worries you may be experiencing.
Tower Hamlets Talking Therapies is a primary care NHS psychology and counselling service offering free access to confidential and evidence-based therapeutic interventions. During the pandemic, we are open to referrals and offer appointments remotely via telephone or videocall.
Self refer by visiting our website.