Photo: Female opening the curtains to daylight by josue Verdejo from Pexels
There is no getting away from it. This has been the strangest festive period ever and news of high rates of COVID infection, friends and family becoming ill, and reports of the huge pressure on ambulance and emergency services, can really bring you down and affect your mood. Self isolation, social restrictions and limited access to leisure activities mean you cannot do the types of things that help you to cope.
When this is compounded by your own worries about money, your job, your career, your home, flood damage (if you live in Bedfordshire), education, relationships, lack of relationships ... a belief that things will get better feels like a distant dream.
Feelings of Panic and Anxiety
All of these issues can bring on feelings of panic and despair in many of us. And depression or a low mood that is hard step away from. There is a lot of uncertainty right now and the things we do to make ourselves feel better like meeting with friends, visiting galleries, museums, cinemas, theatres, church, pubs, clubs, eateries, sports venues, are not able to happen.
The team at Newham Talking Therapies have put together a list (and film) of things to do that might help you in this time of uncertainty. See what they have to say to stop your anxiety bubbling up and overwhelming you:
This 12 minute film made by Newham Talking Therapies has tips about how to cope with uncertainty
Try and stay with your routine - when you are on leave from work, furloughed or socially isolating, it is easy to become nocturnal or go to bed late and sleep late. Routine plays an important part in our wellbeing . We do better with repeat cycles and activities so try to stay with your usually meal time and sleep time routines.
Don't watch the news all day - decide to look at one of the news programmes. The 6.00pm edition usually has all information gathered throughout the day
Watch out for fake news - Newham Talking Therapies advise to check the sources of the information you are reading. There are websites such as Fact Check that can help: https://factcheck.afp.com/
Agree a limit to discussion/conversation about the pandemic - It's easy for this to be the focus of all your conversations online, on the phone and in person. This will 'feed' your sense of helplessness about what is going on. So try and get a balance and agree a limit with family and friends so you can talk about other things.
Eat well and make meals an event - Eat at regular times and plan your meals so that you don't get hungry and end up snacking or sending out for a delivery. Make your meals an event. Take care in preparing them and set the table. Perhaps ask family members and housemates to sit at the table. Make it social and an opportunity to listen to how everyone is getting on.
Try and stay occupied - writing a journal about how you feel right now can be interesting. Plot things you want to do when the restrictions ease. Think about little jobs around the house that could do with your attention now and do them. Many won't take long and the satisfaction will stay with you all day. Everyone has a drawer that has everything stuffed in and could do with a clear out. How good will that feel. Go through your wardrobe and select clothes for the charity shop that you haven't worn in the last two years - you're not going to wear it again, are you! Go mad and get the paint brush out - DIY shops are open even in Tier 4.
Listen to music or radio - Those bubbly radio presenters can lift our mood and make us feel like part of a community of listeners. Talk shows can be stimulating and you might feel the urge to call in yourself. Or just hum along or, if no one at home or even if they are, dance around the kitchen a bit!
Exercise - Yes, it's the one thing we can all do. You can undertake exercise with one other person from outside your household. So plan a series of walks/strolls/jogs in different parks and countryside where you live and make it a social event by catching up with a friend. If no one is around, walk on your own and talk to all the dogs you see. They may not talk back but their owners will. Most love talking about their pets!
Get support if you need to - The festive period can be a difficult time for many reasons. If you feel that you haven't been coping for a while and recognise that you have reached a point where it would be good to get help, the Trust's Talking Therapies Services can help. (see below) They have webinars, pre-recorded sessions, online group therapy and one to one therapy which can help you to address whatever is holding you back or making you feel unhappy.
The pandemic and lockdown restrictions have made many of us reflect on our lives, think about what's important, question if we are where we want to be in our lives and consider what is in the way of us being in a better place. If this is you, start the new year with a plan to get the support and the tools you need to to take the first step. Our talking therapies services can help:
Newham Talking Therapies
Bedfordshire Wellbeing Service
Tower Hamlets Talking Therapies
Richmond Talking Therapies
If you feel things have become more difficult and that you are moving towards a serious mental health crisis situation, then contact the 24 hour Mental Health Crisis Line for the area where you live
The Samaritans helpline and Samaritans online support can also help you to talk through how you are feeling: https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/contact-samaritan/