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18th Oct, 2021

Here to help: Overcoming anxiety as lockdown rules start to ease

Correspondent 9th Jul, 2020 Updated: 9th Jul, 2020

Easing from lockdown

By Sheila McMahon, Qualified Counsellor Reg. MBACP, FTP and Comedienne

Mental Health Counsellor and Comedienne Sheila McMahon shares her thoughts on easing out of lockdown. Sheila has regularly performed at The Redditch Palace Theatre, as well as having appeared on BBC, ITV and radio.

AFTER more than three months of lockdown, bars, restaurants and other public venues have started opening across England with social distancing measures in place.

Some people have embraced this. Others aren’t sure.

And that’s where you’ll find me, in the ‘not sure’ camp. I am still cautious. I didn’t rush out to the pub on that first Saturday night. Instead, I did my usual ‘games night’ over Zoom with my friends. That felt right for me.

Peer pressure

During this time of uncertainty, I encourage you to do what feels right for you.

I recently compiled some sayings for one of the episodes of ‘Stories with Sheila’ on my YouTube Channel, and someone shared a quote with me that said, ‘Be honest if you don’t like something, say it and don’t worry about being you’.

This is so important, but not always easy to put into practice.

I recently went to visit some family members who I hadn’t seen since before lockdown.

I was worrying about how the social distancing was going to work, and not being able to give them a hug.

My biggest fear was having to turn the young children away and them not understanding why.

When I met them I could see that they were struggling with this too.

I felt it was important to voice what boundaries I needed. Together, we found ways to make it work – where we could keep our distance, help the children understand the situation (without freaking them out!) and enjoy spending time together. Remember we are all learning as we go along.

Personal responsibility

As we ease out of lockdown, we all have a responsibility to keep ourselves and each other safe, by washing our hands, wearing masks where appropriate and keeping social distancing measures in place.

This situation really has highlighted how we are all in this together, and that every single one of our actions can have a ripple effect on whether we continue to ease out of lockdown or find ourselves back in it.

Grounded

Whatever happens, we should try to keep ourselves grounded and keep perspective.

Eventually this will hopefully pass, or we will find ways to manage it. We can find activities that help to keep us grounded, such as meditation, walking, relaxation or yoga, and just focus on each day as it comes.

Humour

We need to keep our sense of humour. Whether that’s by watching humorous programmes or sharing messages via social media, like a funny one I read recently about a husband texting his wife saying: “Hi Darling, I’m down at the pub with the lads having a quiet drink. Unfortunately, someone just coughed everywhere so we have been quarantined – see you in 14 days!”.

Now that’s what you call a lock-in!

Creative adapting

During this time, I have continued to run my counselling business by seeing clients online. I have been pleasantly surprised at how well it has worked, with results as good as working face-to-face. I’ll continue to work online for the foreseeable future, as it allows me more time to help more people.

There have been some amazing stories about how people have adapted during this time. I encourage you to be creative in your thinking and ideas.

Be open to adapt, and keep going until you find a way that works for you. Just think, Thomas Edison had many unsuccessful attempts before he managed to invent the lightbulb. Don’t give up!

Remember, where there’s a will there’s a way. Or, as someone else said: ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a relative!’

Social Media

Remember to take breaks from the news and social media. Notice when it is having a negative effect on you, maybe fuelling anger, anxiety or fear.

Keep an eye on your screen time. Decide if it’s too much for you, and find other activities you can do instead.

Autonomy

It is important to be able to make your own decisions, but also to respect other people’s opinions. It’s OK to agree to disagree.

So, as we ease out of lockdown, I encourage you to try to live in the now and just take the world one day at a time.

For further information and resources go to Sheila’s YouTube Channel or visit www.mindmanagementforyou.com

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