I have had a lot of clients and friends talk to me recently about feeling even more anxious as we go back to normal than they did at the start of lockdown.
As I write this in the UK, we are coming out of a nationwide lockdown in a series of steps. This means that the government rules and guidelines are changing regularly and as science is reviewed and tested, scientific recommendations are changing also.
It seems to me that in the run up to lockdown there was anxiety around jobs, paying the bills and the changes that we all had to make. At the time however the rules were simple, don’t go out unless you really have to.
What we are seeing now is that the rules are much more complex and nuanced and, in some cases, they depend upon where you live and what the case numbers are like in that area.
So, I have some tips to help you navigate this new and complicated return to normal:
The world is going through a pretty significant crisis at the moment so try not to give yourself a hard time if you are feeling stressed, anxious or overwhelmed. There is a lot of fear and confusion around COVID that is inevitably going to have an impact. If feelings become too intense then make sure you talk to someone whether that be a therapist or family and friends.
One of the biggest challenges of the pandemic has been the fake news surrounding it. There have been heart-breaking cases all over the world of people who have lost loved ones after thinking the pandemic was a hoax or a conspiracy. Resources like the World Health Organisation (WHO) are much more reliable and will be based on the best current evidence available.
It is so easy to be constantly connected to the outside world through 24hr news channels and social media. Have a think about whether exposing yourself to these things could be contributing towards your anxiety. I have seen a lot of news stories with sensationalist or speculative titles that are designed to get an emotional reaction from you so that you click on their links. Remember that often reporters are selling stories not necessarily providing you with information.
Consider what is best and safest for you and your loved ones. The government and scientific guidelines are still relatively simple; make sure you wash your hands regularly and keep away from other people who are not in your household. Things like masks are extra precautions so wear one if you can but try not to judge those who can’t, just stay away from them.
Stay up to date with WHO guidelines here: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public
It is well documented that a healthy lifestyle contributes towards good mental health. This includes eating a wide range of foods and plenty of veggies, exercising in a way that you enjoy, having fun and being creative and spending time with other people (within social distancing rules). I would also add to this making sure you have the best opportunity to get regular good sleep and avoid using alcohol and other drugs to change your mood.
I love self-hypnosis and it can be really helpful in a crisis but that’s what has worked for me in the past and what I am trained in (you can learn self-hypnosis online here).
Find something, or several things that work for you. Ideas could be walking (especially if you have or can borrow a dog), dancing, yoga, Pilates, random stretching throughout the day, running, mindfulness, meditation, horse riding, bike riding, reading, playing games, comic books… I have run out of examples, but the key thing is:
Thank you for reading, if you found this blog helpful then please share it with others and if you have any questions or would like to know more about cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy for anxiety then feel free to email [email protected]
The way we think has a huge impact on our mental health. If you are looking to overcome your anxiety or just improve your mental health then first you need to know what thoughts are making things worse.
This download gives you a list of the most common ways we think negatively. All you need to do is see which ones you do most.
Also, keep an eye on your emails! I will be sending you a really useful video that goes with this exercise.