Some Dos and Don’ts for better mental health during lockdown

As the nation prepares for its second lockdown, there’s a growing awareness of the impact the change from a usual routine, and isolation, can have on people’s mental health. Here NOEL McDERMOTT, pictured, a psychotherapist with more than 25 years’ experience, offers some advice on how to keep well over the coming weeks

What To Do During the Second Lockdown

Normalise: Normalisation is a very powerful tool for helping to manage uncomfortable feelings about the situation and our possible spike in uncomfortable feelings about the latest spike is also normal. Learn to self soothe and tell yourself that this is understandable and manageable, making sense in this way is very helpful.

The first crucial skill to employ with this current wave of infections and restrictions is to acknowledge this is normal for a pandemic. They come in three waves and in the pattern, we are experiencing now. This Autumn/Winter spike was predicted, and we are responding to it. Although being in a pandemic is out of the ordinary for us, what is happening is well charted.

Accept the here and now: Connected to normalisation is acceptance and using the power of here and now thinking. Inevitably, our minds will go to the things we feel might be threatened in the future by these new restrictions. The future, though, like the pandemic, is not something we have the power to change. We have to power to change our experience and management of what is happening right now.

Be grateful: Write a list of the things you have right now that you are grateful for. When your mind goes to fear about loss in the future, remind yourself of what you have right now. Keep coming back to the present moment and finding gratitude.

Have hope: Utilising hope and faith about the future (accepting without proof that things will turn out ok in the end) will make you feel better. It can’t be overemphasised that making yourself feel better in times of stress through positive psychological and behavioural methods is gold dust. Moving into stress and feelings of threat will be painful and counterproductive at this time. Reducing stress (the actual biggest cause of death) is wholly to be sought after.

Be helpful: If you are finding yourself in a position where your troubles seem so big you can’t see a way out, try reaching out and helping others. Always in life, there is someone who is struggling more than ourselves and helping them gives us two things, perspective and purpose. Perspective, seeing a bigger picture allows us to get out of ourselves in a healthy way.

Practice meditation: It’s simply one of the best mental health decisions you will ever make… a few minutes a day of mindful breathing to achieve the ability to manage your mind. It’s a no brainer.

What NOT To Do During the Second Lockdown

Drink or drugs: Increasing your alcohol consumption or taking non-prescription drugs at this time will not help. This will not help manage anxiety, stress, depression or sleep issues.

Isolate yourself from others: Stay in touch with friends, colleagues and family, and talk all this over.

Buy into the fear: Keep up sensible precautions about infection control and adjust to the new normal, but don’t cancel everything and avoid living! Keep planning for the future and the things you look forward too.

“Rather than focus our attention on what we cannot genuinely influence, the course of this pandemic, instead we need to focus our attention on what we can influence, our responses to the pandemic and the new restrictions,” McDermott says.

“By bringing our focus to that we can ensure, not only that we are resilient to this situation, but also that we can grow from it.”

  • If you are struggling with your mental health, remember that help is always just a phone call away. Samaritans Croydon can be reached on 116 123 (free from any phone) or 0330 094 5717 (local call charges apply) – or check out their website here.
  • Noel McDermott is a psychotherapist, and the founder of three organisations: Psychotherapy and Consultancy Ltd, Sober Help Ltd and Mental HealthWorks Ltd. His  company offer at-home mental health care and will source, identify and co-ordinate personalised care teams for the individual. They have recently launched a range of online therapy resources in order to help clients access help without leaving home. To find out more, visit https://www.noelmcdermott.net/group-therapy/

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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