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Laura Clifford-Jones MBACP, Adult & Young Persons Counsellor gives some tips on how to cope with anxiety with reductions in lockdown restrictions.

How do we keep ourselves safe?
How do we keep our loved ones safe?
I am scared to go out.
Do I have to wear a mask all the time?

It is natural for us all to be concerned and anxious at the moment over our own and our loved one’s health and safety. As we all start getting back to the new ‘normal’ this can cause a lot of additional anxiety which can trigger health and mental health issues.

Our brains are wired for survival and it would be remiss of our brain and body to not respond to this threat and perceived threat in the way that it will, due to these feelings of threat our fight or flight system has to be turned on for our own survival, as with all things we can react in varying different ways.

Anxiety is a protective mechanism which drives people to avoid the things that care them. When a “scary” thing is avoided, there is an immediate but short-lived sense of relief. This creates a harmful cycle of avoidance, and worsening anxiety.

For carers and someone with health issues, this can lead to stronger anxiety issues such as a fear of making their own or their loved ones illness worse, not wanting to venture out just in case they contract Covid-19 and/or pass it onto the person they are caring for, so the fear can trigger anxiety symptoms to the point that it interferes with daily life. Living with anxiety can be exhausting for someone who constantly worries about germs, getting sick, and non-specific symptoms they fear may be terminal.

So how can you support yourselves and others during this transition period of getting back to as close as ‘normal’ life for you and the person you care for?

  • Talk over your anxieties and worries with someone, this can be a close friend, relative, support services such as us at Carer Support Wiltshire. We are also offering free counselling to carers registered with us at this time, contact us to find out more. 
  • Understand there is nothing wrong with how you feel, all of us are struggling at the moment with feelings of anxiety and worry. My moto is ‘Be Kind to Yourself’ and what I mean by this is that it is ‘Okay not to feel okay at times’.
  • Accept we can only do our best! “If I have taken all the precautions I can, this is good enough”. What I mean by this, is following the guidance on wearing a mask, you could start by using the mask in the house in order to get use to how it feels on your face, how it feels to talk and listen with other (this is a strange thing for all of us), wash your hands and/or use hand sanitizer when going out or coming home.
  • A lot of us have lost contact with our family, friends and even peer groups, this is a good time to contact them, start a conversation, arrange to meet in a place that you feel comfortable with, gaining our social group connection back can help ease anxiety and enable us to start getting back to what will be our new ‘normal’.
  • If you are struggling to go out, start by just stepping out your front door, then take a short walk around your road – strange as it seems the more we push ourselves the more we are able to do, this can come from challenging your negative or irrational thoughts by asking yourself:

Is there substantial evidence for my thoughts?
Is there evidence contrary to my thoughts?
What would a friend think about the situation?
If I looked at the situation positively, how is it different?

  • Distraction from our negative thoughts can help bring us back into the here and now, this can be done through an anxiety copying strategy as described below.

Anxiety Grounding Tips:

Look around you and find:

5 things you can see
4 things you can touch
3 things you can hear
2 things you can smell
1 thing you can taste

This is called ‘Grounding’ – it can help if you feel like you have lost control of your surroundings.

Being aware of using and incorporating healthy coping strategies into our everyday life such as:

• Exercise – this does not have to be running, as short walk if you are able to, just moving your body around, walking up the stairs etc. remembering to take into account your own health issues and advice from your medical practitioner.
• Healthy eating – taking into account any dietary needs.
• Relaxation and sleeping – when we are overtired our anxieties can become stronger due to the brain needing time off to recharge, refocus, so take some time to relax during the day and before going to sleep, switch off the TV or phone half an hour before bed, sit and read or listen to some soothing music.

Taking care of ourselves, means we are more able to take care of others. I would like to end with this message for you.

A Thought 4 U
The longest and most important relationship you will ever have is the one that you have with yourself. It is the ONLY relationship that you have from the moment you are born to the moment you die. It is also the relationship that is most neglected. You are worth getting to know. So, take some time 2DAY.

About Laura

Laura Clifford-Jones MBACP

Adult & Young Persons Counsellor & Coach –
I offer a friendly, confidential and professional counselling service for Adults & Young People (11+), sessions can be In-person, Online or by Telephone, I have specialisms in Anxiety, Medical Anxiety, Autistic Spectrum & Eating Disorders. I also have personal experience of being a carer and understand the complexities of emotions that can occur within this role.

I am also the Founder & Counselling Lead at Poole Therapies & Associates