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Covid 19 and Mental Health

by Fran Dundee
Ways to look after your Mental Health during the Covid 19 Pandemic | Fran Dundee Counselling Services

Life is what Happens While We Are Making Other Plans

Allen Saunders

This quote has never felt so relevant with the enormity of the impact of Coronavirus here in the United Kingdom and all over the World. This new unfamiliar, unpredictable virus has created shock and fear and a sense of threat to our safety. This sense of threat has caused unease, panic and frustration with the loss of our familiar routine.

Our primal subconscious survival instincts takeover of fight, flight or freeze to help us cope and survive this pandemic.

For the over 70’s, pregnant people, people with underlying health conditions, organ transplants or patients undergoing cancer treatment they have been urged to spend at least 12 weeks in isolation. This is already a challenging time and being labelled as vulnerable then losing the opportunities to get out of the house for a change of scene or to have some visitors can cause dysregulation and feeling of being out of control.

We all have the capacity to adapt by creating a new balance, an opportunity to create regulation and acceptance and experience feelings like aware, cheerful, hopeful, content, thoughtful and relaxed.

Social distancing has impacted our livelihood, plans and significant events. The things we have put so much effort into, worked, saved and planned for and looked forward to have been cancelled and we are left feeling a loss of the things which are important to us in the here and now feelings we may have are anger, overwhelm and helplessness.

Circumstances we have taken for granted, spending time and connecting with family and friends and doing the things that offer us satisfaction and achievement have had to stop for now. Many are working within the caring industry having to put aside the worries and concerns they have to continue looking after others. Some have to continue to work regardless of how fearful they are.

As I write this I recognise that each and every person is different and will be experiencing a range of emotions we all cope in different ways. This dysregulating change may be familiar for some especially when illness has required social isolation and distancing and for many nothing like this has ever happened before.

With no time to slowly adjust to this enforced social distancing and isolation it’s difficult to come to terms with all the restrictions that have been forced on us. Our choices have been taken away for the time being and we find ourselves spending time at home with our families experiencing a range of unexpected thoughts, feelings and emotions. Angry, frustrated, depressed, lonely, helpless, insecure, overwhelmed, tired, hostile, hateful as well as other feelings may resonate with you.

Here are some ideas and suggestions to help you create more balance in this challenging time – We still have many choices and opportunities from the comfort of our own homes.

  • Create routine and balance in your day
  • Begin the day with an invigorating shower or have a lovely hot bath in the evening. At meals times try something new to eat change what you are putting into your body, more vegetables how about Vitamin C and D if you are not able to go outside.
  • Include exercise and having some variety dancing or running up and down the stairs to increase your heart rate. YouTube offers many exercise ideas.
  • Put aside time to connect with others and play with your children, do you have Lego what can you build?
  • Create a gratitude diary being grateful for 3 things at the beginning, middle and end of your day. 
  • Have some you time are you reading a good book? Do you enjoy playing video games? Pampering yourself with a beauty routine? Watching your favourite TV programme? Start a project. Make something or plan a fun at home event.
  • Look online and experiment with mindfulness ideas, meditation or self-compassion practices. If the first thing you find doesn’t resonate with you try another one. The voice and principle behind the practice is important and finding the right one to suit you will make it easier.
  • Do those jobs you haven’t had the time to do or having been putting off for ages. With the warmer and brighter days getting out in the garden to do jobs or just relaxing in it will bring the benefits of a change of scene.
  • Limit your time watching or listening to Corona Virus news. Put your phone down if you are spending endless time scrolling through information where you find yourself comparing your life to others and then you don’t feel good about yourself. Take a social media break.
  • Create a mood board of ideas you would like to do when isolation is over. Where do you want to go? Who do you want to see? What do you want to achieve. Think outside your comfort zone.
  • Try an experiment and imagine how it would be for you to experience everything as new for the first time? For example you wake up and scan the room taking in all the information as if for the first time, slowing everything down, noticing the colours and shapes what do you notice? Try this with other parts of your day notice what is it like?

I can help you through this difficult time, I provide therapy by telephone or secure online video. Make the first step and get in touch.