As we continue our ‘Easing Out of Lockdown Campaign’ today we focus on our mental health & resilience as we get to grips with our new normal.
Reports are showing a major spike in numbers of people suffering with poor mental health as a result of the pandemic and lockdown.
We asked Deb Milligan, Seed’s Psychotherapist & Hypnotherapist, for her top tips on how we can achieve better mental health and resilience as we come back into the world.
You have been busy throughout lockdown. Has there been a common theme among your clients during this time?
Almost without exception people are talking of heightened anxiety, self-doubt, and fear of the unknown – but these are completely normal responses to the constant changes we’re experiencing. We’re in a situation none of us have ever dealt with before, and it’s not surprising that facing so much uncertainty takes its toll on our mental health.
Many people have struggled with all sorts of emotions for all sorts of reasons, from anxiety and depression to grief and fear. What would be your top tips for them as they start to engage with the world again?
It’s important to know that you’re not alone when feeling any of these difficult emotions – they’re natural human responses and to be expected. And we will all respond differently, in our own unique ways, shaped by our own individual lockdown experience and the specific challenges each of us have faced.
Allow yourself to feel these feelings – don’t push them away – they’ll only surface later, sometime, somehow. And try to be as kind to yourself as you would to any close friend experiencing the same difficulties. Recognise what you’re feeling, remind yourself these feelings are perfectly valid. If possible, talk to someone – open up to trusted friends or family. It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s part of taking charge of your well-being and building resilience.
There have been lots of positive stories about people feeling more of a sense of community, unity and kindness. Have you seen these positively impact your clients and their mental health?
Absolutely. Many have actually reported diminishing anxiety and improved mood once they began doing things for others, some finding a sense of purpose, some who’d felt isolated and lonely now becoming more connected to their neighbours and community even through things like the ‘clap for carers’.
Obviously, lots of people are worried about their livelihoods. What mental health support is available for people on a budget?
It’s relatively straightforward to find online support groups on Facebook or run by organisations like Mind, who have an online peer support community, where you can share your experiences with others – welcoming people from all backgrounds, whatever they’re going through.
Also, there are many activities you can engage in that have a therapeutic effect of calming the anxious brain and helping restore clarity and a calmer mindset:
Do you recommend anti-depressants as a means to cope with mental health issues if talking therapies aren’t working?
As a therapist and not a medical professional it is never my place to recommend that anyone starts or stops any course of medication. But there are so many non-pharmacological interventions that go beyond ‘just talking’, that help us boost our bodies’ own natural ‘happy chemicals’. They are designed to do the same job as anti-depressants in terms of lifting our mood and helping us feel so much better. It’s my job to help people access their own ‘feel good’ resources rather than get them from prescription meds.
What are your top tips for building mental resilience?
This is about learning to bend, and not break. It’s about taking things at our own pace and showing ourselves a bit of compassion. As long as we do things in a measured way, that’s key.
What other therapies / remedies do you recommend, if any, to support people’s mental and emotional health?
The primary underlying cause for mental health problems is stress – so anything and everything that helps increase how much quality relaxation we build into our daily lives is hugely beneficial – whether that’s yoga, Pilates, massage, mindfulness, all of these will help. Also staying active, being outdoors, connecting with nature, laughter, singing, dancing….
Is there anything else you wish to add?
We found it difficult to get into the routine of lockdown, so it stands to reason that we’ll find it difficult to get out of the routine of lockdown as well.
While the coronavirus pandemic has put a lot of strain on our mental health, it’s also offered us the chance to start an important conversation about what we want from our lives, and which bits of ‘normal’ we actually want to return to. It’s given us the time we need to re-evaluate what really matters, and a chance to collectively change the way we live our lives, for the better of everyone. Let’s not waste it.
For more information on what Deb has discussed or to find out how she might be able to help you build resilience, please contact:
T: 07584840142 / E: email@example.com
You can find all our FREE content from the ‘Easing out of Lockdown – safely, effectively & without fear’ campaign on our COMMUNITY page.