Anxious about the new term, and life outside of lockdown

This has been a very peculiar year, hasn’t it?

Families across the world have been impacted, and have had to deal with all kinds of changes, challenges and routines which are so far from what we are used to – and I know that most of us are still processing all of those changes. Now it’s time to start processing some more, as children across the UK return to school, students back to colleges and universities, and those who have been working from home for the last six months make plans to return to offices.

Don’t think that you’re alone in being anxious about these changes, and about the safety and well-being of your families and loved ones as they go back out into the world and mix with their peers again.

Whilst there are many practical steps being taken in all of these environments to protect people (increased cleaning, social distancing, one way systems, hand sanitising stations) and we can reassure ourselves with these practical acts – which we know are going to do a lot to protect many people from any risk of infection or harm – I know that anxiety doesn’t always care about practicalities or facts.

Those little voices that whisper at the back of our mind about the dangers, the risks, the fears we are carrying, don’t go quiet simply because we have facts to shout back at them!

So what can we do to challenge those anxieties, and to support our own mental well-being and that of our loved ones and families as life moves into the next phase of the Coronavirus pandemic, and how we function through it?

Reminding ourselves of those practical steps is a good first step. For example; “I am worried about my child being in a class with other children” can be challenged with “but they will be in one seat at a sterilised, safe desk, distanced from others; the will have their own hand sanitiser and know how to properly wash their hands.”

“I am worried about travelling to work on public transport” can be met with “but I have my own mask, I can maintain a physical distance between myself and others and, where that is difficult, our masks will reduce the risk. I have sanitiser in my pocket and contactless payment for my journey.”

When anxiety builds and you begin to feel panic or overwhelm, try to find coping techniques to get you through that moment:

  • Breathing exercises can calm your heart rate
  • Grounding techniques can stop your mind spiralling into negative thoughts
  • Remove yourself from any crowded or busy public space for a few minutes
  • Wear headphones to reduce external sensory input
  • Wear a mask in public areas
  • Carry your own wipes and alcohol gel so that you can protect yourself from germs
  • Remind yourself that you have remained safe so far, and will remain safe because you have taken the right steps

Many people are finding that they coped well during lockdown, because they had the focus of their family and were busy throughout. Now that life is returning to some semblance of ‘normal’ and we are under less pressure, the need to ‘cope’ well is reduced – and we are actually struggling more without that constant need.

This is entirely normal, and very common; crisis brings crisis management techniques, and only once the crisis has passed do we feel the fear and overwhelm of the situation we just lived through.

This is a great time to reach out to your support networks; family and friends, occupational health, your GP and professional counselling, which can help you to process that trauma in a healthy way and move through the stages of what is, essentially, grief and fear.

Small acts of self care can help you to re-centre and reduce anxiety, and give you some inner reserves to get through the next weeks. Never underestimate the power of small kindnesses – for yourself or for those you love.

I can help you with the anxieties of moving back into the world, and I can help you to find coping methods for those moments of overwhelm. I can also  give you tools to support those you love with their own worries, without harming yourself by taking on the weight of other people’s emotional well-being and need.

Contact me through this website, on the phone on 07849 037095 (as a call, a text or via WhatsApp) or by email on amandaburbidge-counselling@outlook.com – you don’t need to struggle alone with your worries; I can help.