Is it me, or does this lockdown feel different? I have noticed that there is a greater element of anxiety in the clients that I work with. There is a sense of fear too. It feels like the threat of COVID-19 has been with us for so long now, that its danger has seeped deep into our individual and collective consciousness.
I often remark that there is no point worrying about things that you cannot change, instead, direct, your mental and physical energy into what you can affect. However, the bombardment of negative and frightening information from all media, the opinions, the statistics, graphs, and ominous predictions for almost a year, has to have had an effect.
Is that what we as individuals and as people globally, are now experiencing as increasing anxiety and growing fear?
I do what I can to protect myself and those that are close to me. I go the extra mile to protect people who come to me for help, Air filtration, UVC and OZONE room sterilisation, sanitisers, change in operational practice, investment in equipment for the best possible online experiences, the list goes on.
I feel this gives me some autonomy in these restricted times. I call this being self-full. I meet my needs, within my means, to the benefit of myself and without detriment to others. This is the polar opposite to being Selfish, where someone meets their needs to the detriment or cost to others, regardless of the consequences.
Coping in this pandemic is a challenge for us all, and sometimes we could do with a hand or new ways of coping, so here are my tips to survive and thrive during a lockdown.
Keeping to a routine that is as close to pre COVID-19 as possible, is a really great way to anchor you. Things like going to bed and getting up at the usual times. Disrupted sleep patterns are well known to have a negative effect on our mood and general health. Routine helps to maintain the circadian rhythms, we function best when these are maintained. Routines also give you a framework for activities, like work, exercise, eating, sleeping etc. This can maintain the sense of purpose needed, as well as allowing us to feel productive.
Plan exercise into your day, every day
Exercise and movement are so important to both physical and mental health. What exercise you do is up to you, just make a commitment to yourself to do something every day. There are many online, free to access, exercise programs that vary from gentle to high energy routines. If a daily walk is accessible, you choose the distance, pace and energy you put in. If going out is not an option for you, then going up and down stairs a few times can get the heart pumping and get you a little out of breath.
No stairs, step ups or vacuuming, changing the bed, cleaning the bathroom, organising drawers / wardrobes / Kitchen Cupboards are just some of the things that require physical activity.
Exercise and movement that has your heart working a little harder, your breathing a little heavier enables the body to release endorphins, and allows you to work off stress that may be building up. This alone can act as a defence to negative thinking and low moods setting in.
Limit your consumption of News and Social Media
The News for the last year has been so focussed on death and dying that it is no wonder we all have a generalised fear and depression. Bad News Sells. The more terrible, frightening and shocking a headline the more that newspaper sold. What we see written down we often accept as fact, this has been programmed into us for many years. Reporters interviewing reporters is the new normal. Hardly unbiased and enables the sensationalism that keeps the viewer watching, after all, viewing numbers are how money is generated, careers made and market share consolidated.
Choose a news programme and watch only that, once per day (twice at most).
Limit the feeds on devices, wean yourself off the consumption of information that you do not control. Give yourself limits on all the passive social media channels. You can lose hours to scrolling and end up feeling empty and frustrated that the day has gone, and you feel like you have achieved nothing.
What you see posted on sites like Facebook and Instagram, is not a true and real version of someone’s life, its edited, touched up, sanitised, and enhanced. This is what the person wants you to see or believe, it is a version of their reality (and it may well be what they want to believe themselves). This can, over a surprisingly short time, lower your mood and facilitate self-criticism.
Be kind to yourself
Plan in things that look after your body and mind. This can be as simple as taking a long bath, listening to your favourite music, learn breathing for health, read (audio books count), try meditating etc. Self-care is about meeting your needs, even if you have never done this before.
Gently challenge the inner voice that criticises you, after all, you wouldn’t let anyone else speak to you that way!
Reach out and keep in contact
There is a reason that solitary confinement is a prison punishment.
We are by nature, social beings. We need the interaction with others, the diversity of conversation and company.
You will have likely heard of the 7-38-55 rule. Very simply, Albert Mehrabian researched communication and outlined that just 7% of communication are the words used. The tone of voice makes up 38% of the
communication and a huge 55% is nonverbal, body language, facial expression, eye contact etc. If we accept this then it is easy to see why emails and particularly text messages can so easily be misinterpreted. Is this why face to face conversations are so much more fulfilling than messaging?
There are many ways to make up for the lack of contact we need. Technology is great at connecting us we often forget its value.
A telephone call is simple, yet can be so rewarding. Yes, it takes effort and an investment of time, but so worthwhile. Video calling is now on almost every mobile phone and is a great way to add the missing parts to communication, as mentioned above. There are services like Zoom and Skype etc. that enable you to involve more than one other person. Setting up quizzes, group chats, games are all doable and enable you to interact outside your household. Whenever you can, reach out to others, make time for them and for you.
We have all had changes put upon us during this pandemic. We can resist change as much as we like, it will happen anyway. If we choose to accept that change is a way of life, and go with it, it can reward us. It is our choice. If you choose to own this thought, then you regain the self-autonomy that you may feel you have lost.
If you are looking for support or help during these challenging times you can book counselling or coaching with me at www.chorleytherapy.com/book-online. There are a free taster sessions available, so you have nothing to lose.
If you need more information, please visit www.chorleytherpy.com
Thank you and hope to see you soon.