Todays blog is written by Kym Winter, CEO of rareminds and psychotherapist.

We’ve all got used to the saying during lockdown that ‘we are all in the same storm, but not all in the same boat.’ Some of you will be craving space in a house that feels too crowded, some of you will be craving company and coping with loneliness; some have lost jobs or be furloughed, whilst some of you will be working harder than ever. And for each one of you feeling relief at having some time off from hospital appointments, there will be another of you worrying about or coping with the impact of deferred treatments or scans.

What we all have in common is we are having to find ways of living with loss and change, and the challenges of surviving a difficult time with no clear end in sight. As human beings, we cope better with painful experiences if we know it is only for a certain length of time. Ever-changing rules and reviews about ‘what is going to be possible when’ makes it hard to hold onto hope in the face of continued uncertainty. Like living with an ongoing physical condition, keeping in mind an image of ‘surfing’ the storm waves, rather than ‘wishing the storm away’ or ‘railing against it’ can be a more productive use of emotional energy.    

 

Many of us are finding this 3rd Lockdown particularly challenging given the time of year. January and February can often be a challenging time mood-wise, especially when it’s cold, wet, and the pandemic makes it hard to arrange things to reliably look forward to. So here’s just a few ‘At Home in Lockdown’ Tips to bear in mind:

1. Naming feelings can help in managing them.

Check-in with yourself at morning, lunch and evening. Try to name the feelings, i.e. are you worried, tired, hopeful, lonely, content, frustrated, etc. Just accept the feeling as there are no rights or wrongs. Acknowledging the feelings also means you are less likely to express them in unhelpful ways to those around you.

2. Everyone has different responses under stress.

Some of us withdraw, some become very emotional, others very ‘logical’. Try to know your own ‘tendency’ and also those of people close to you. This can help you make allowances for others and recognise your own ‘stress signs’.

3. Try to be clear about what you need and when.

Most of us aren’t mind-readers! Asking for what you need from another person opens up more possibility of having your needs met. That’s true if you live alone, with others, or in the workplace.

4. Try to phrase requests (or complaints!) positively:

‘I find it helpful when ……..’, is often better received than ‘It’s so annoying when ………’

5. ‘You can’t pour from an empty jug’ is a really useful phrase to hold onto if you find it hard to make time for your own needs.

Looking after yourself IS part of looking after others too (especially when you are the supporter/carer) as then others don’t have to be worried about how you are coping. We know this can be a real challenge for some during lockdown – especially if you’re a key worker, home-schooler or juggling other caring responsibilities.

6. Try learning a new skill like Mindfulness.

There are lots of resources out there. The team at rareminds all voted Headspace as our favourite; it’s also available as an App. Even 3 mins a day can help!

7. Help is out there

Often we are better at, and even enjoy, helping out others with their difficulties than we are at attending to our own!. So don’t be afraid to reach out to neighbours, friends or family when you need to.

If you are feeling alone or struggling, there are also many resources available.

Here are just a few:

The NHS has started a new campaign called ‘Every Mind Matters’ with lots of physical and mental health advice and resources.

Relate has a wide range of resources to support relationships during lockdown, including helpful books, workshops and 1:1 Couples counselling.

The Mental Health Foundation has lots of downloadable guides, podcasts and videos.

The AKUS Counselling Service is available on 01727 752147/[email protected]. (Mon-Fri ) and can usually respond within 72 hours.

If you are really struggling or in crisis, contact your GP or NHS 111/999 (out of hours)

The Samaritans also provide an excellent listening/crisis support on 116 123 or [email protected].