A second national lockdown is looming, so it’s time to get proactive about our mental health.
While we may have learnt lessons from the first lockdown, we also know exactly how tough it is to be cooped up at home for weeks. And for many, the thought of being isolated for another long stretch is going to trigger anxiety, stress and low moods.
If you’re really concerned about how you’re going to cope with this second lockdown, make sure you reach out and get professional help. Your GP will have strategies to help you with your mental health.
But, there are also things you can do for yourself. It’s important to make positive, healthy decisions at the moment, and avoid negative behaviour patterns where you can.
Noel McDermott – a psychotherapist with more than 25 years experience – has compiled practical things that we can do to limit the mental health impact of the new restrictions.
When we can’t manage the world we are in, he says we can at least use certain techniques to manage ourselves.
How to boost your mental health in the second lockdown
Normalisation is a very powerful tool for helping manage uncomfortable feelings about the situation and our possible spike in uncomfortable feelings about the latest spike is also normal.
Learn to self-sooth and tell yourself that this is understandable and manageable, making sense in this way is very helpful.
The first crucial skill to employ with this current wave of infections and restrictions is to acknowledge this is normal for a pandemic. They come in waves and in the pattern we are experiencing now.
This autumn/winter spike was predicted, and we are responding to it. Although being in a pandemic is out of the ordinary for us, what is happening is well charted.
Accept the here and now
Connected to normalisation is acceptance and using the power of here-and-now thinking.
Inevitably our minds will go to the things we feel might be threatened in the future by these new restrictions.
The future though, like the pandemic is not something we have the power to change. We have to power to change our experience and management of what is happening right now.
Write a list of the things you have right now that you are grateful for.
When your mind goes to fear about loss in the future, remind yourself of what you have right now.
Keep coming back to the present moment and finding gratitude.
Utilising hope and faith about the future (accepting without proof that things will turn out OK in the end) will make you feel better.
It can’t be overemphasised that making yourself feel better in times of stress through positive psychological and behavioural methods is gold dust.
Moving into stress and feelings of threat will be painful and counterproductive at this time. Reducing stress (the biggest cause of death) is wholly to be sought after.
If you are finding yourself in a position where your troubles seem so big you can’t see a way out, try reaching out and helping others.
Always in life there is someone who is struggling more than ourselves and helping them gives us two things; perspective and purpose.
Perspective, seeing a bigger picture, allows us to get out of ourselves in a healthy way.
It is simply one of the best mental health decisions you will ever make.
A few minutes a day of mindful breathing to achieve the ability to manage your mind. It’s a no-brainer.
Behaviours to avoid during lockdown
- Drink or drugs: Increasing your alcohol consumption or taking non-prescription drugs at this time will not help. This will not help manage anxiety, stress, depression or sleep issues.
- Isolate yourself from others: Stay in touch with friends, colleagues and family, and talk all this over.
- Buy into the fear: Keep up sensible precautions about infection control, follow all of the guidance and adjust to the new normal, but don’t avoid living! Keep planning for the future and the things you look forward too.
‘Rather than focus our attention on what we cannot genuinely influence, the course of this pandemic, instead we need to focus our attention on what we can influence, our responses to the pandemic and the new restrictions,’ explains Noel.
‘By bringing our focus to that we can ensure not only that we are resilient to this situation, but also that we can grow from it.’
Do you have any lockdown tips to share? We want to hear from you.
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