After more than a year of isolation, regularly hearing messages like “stay home and stay safe”, from 19th July 2021 some big changes are taking place. Many activities that were restricted or closed will now resume and the wearing of face masks will become voluntary. For some, these changes will cause an increase in tension and some may feel more socially anxious than ever. You are not the only one and if you are experiencing higher levels of anxiety, it’s understandable.
For some people, lockdown has increased a sense of security with life seeming more certain and predictable than usual. However as changes start you may feel anxious about what is an uncertain and at times unsafe world. For example questions such as:- Could I still contract the virus? Will my vaccinations protect me? What if colleagues or friends want to hug? Others may appear far more relaxed about the changing rules and not adhere to any distancing. Some may be feeling a pressure to return to work with uncertainty about how safe that environment will be.
On a practical level the last year may have offered advantages that you are reluctant to give up. You may have loved not having to go beyond sweat pants or pyjamas whereas now the work clothes are coming out of the wardrobe again. Not having to navigate a commute and saving money all seem like positive outcomes of lockdown which we may be reticent to give up.
Do I have any Choice?
One of the big changes which perhaps garners less attention is the fact that the pandemic has raised choices. Prior to lockdown, we worked and lived in particular ways which we though were fixed. Lockdown has shown that there is more flexibility. For example, the way we work has been significantly altered, with many not returning to their offices and working in a blended way. It’s possible that some of the things we regarded as fixed, may actually have more flexibility post Covid. Recognising you have choices and exploring these choices can be helpful as we make post 19th July adjustments.
Other techniques which can help us navigate these changes include, taking time, recognising you’re not alone and taking things a step at a time. Lots of people will be feeling anxious about the changes and many will fear returning to their workplace and old routines. Talk about this transition, recognise that you’re not alone and if you need additional help with anxiety, seek it. Make time to relax too – we need breaks and many things we could take for granted before Covid may have changed. That’s taxing, so taking breaks is vital.
We are living through historic times. It feels like the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world to a shattering halt, prompting everyone to rethink the way they live. With that comes worry and anxiety – not just about the virus and how it affects our daily human interactions, but also about the consequences of its economic fallout. In these unprecedented times, our mental health is everything.
At KlearMinds, we have been working with clients throughout the pandemic, providing online counselling, coaching and psychotherapy to address issues ranging from coronavirus induced anxiety to marriage problems, from career coaching to bereavement counselling.
Access to good mental health apps is one way to seek help. While they’re by no means a replacement for professional treatment from a qualified therapist or counsellor, their usefulness shouldn’t be underestimated. Depending on the issue and the person, smartphone apps can help provide relief. They’re widely available and easily accessible, making them a handy tool to help make you feel better, anytime and anywhere. Here are some of the most popular apps you could try, in no particular order:
This popular meditation app promises to help you live a healthier, happier and more well-rested life. There are guided meditations, sleep casts and expert-led ‘SOS’ sessions that are handy for moments of extreme stress, panic or anxiety. It is said that Headspace has been proven to lower stress in 10 days, negative feelings by 28% and increase resilience by 11%.
An NHS recommended mental wellbeing platform, Thrive is a tool to help you manage anxiety and stress on down days. You can track your moods and educate yourself on the best coping mechanisms when you need them most to get on top of stress, sadness and negative thinking.
Calm is a popular mindfulness app with guided meditations, mindful movement exercises and calming audio content in 6 languages. Look out for effective sleep music and download sleep stories read by celebrities including Stephen Fry, Harry Styles and Matthew McConoughey.
Panic attacks can strike at any time, with both mentally and physically debilitating symptoms. Beat Panic will guide you through an attack when it happens, wherever you are. By helping you breathe deeply and focus on something other than the current reality, the app promises to lower your heart rate and panic levels.
This app is an interactive online journal that helps you manage, record and take control of your mental health. You are encouraged to write down your worries and fears, then using cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques to help you recognise, tackle and overcome your fears.
A vast resource offering 70,000 free guided meditations and soothing bedtime stories, some of them delivered by celebrities’ dulcet tones including Gisele Bundchen, Moby and Elizabeth Gilbert. There are yoga classes and music tracks, all combining into a general wellness app for sleep, anxiety and stress.
Happify is a mood-lifting app with evidence-based exercises, daily articles and fun games to help you overcome negative thoughts and feelings, enjoy everyday moments, set personal goals and improve your mood. Over time, you will be building healthier habits to do the things that make you feel good.
Everyone has unique physical, emotional and spiritual needs that play a role in their overall mental wellbeing. Mental health apps are a personal choice – finding the best one for you is likely to be a process of trial and error. Seeking help is often the hardest step, and easy access to wellbeing apps has made this a lot less daunting. If you are ready to make contact with the experienced counsellors and psychotherapists at KlearMinds, we look forward to hearing from you.
For much of the last year we’ve all been receiving messages like “stay home” and “stay safe”. More recently, the messages have changed and we are being encouraged to step out of our bubbles and reconnect – whether that means a gradual return to work, seeing friends or family in person, or being able to head back to the shops. It can take some time to change or undo messages we’ve been hearing for such a long time and so it’s pretty natural that we may experience an increase in anxiety as we try to navigate these changes.
Many feel happy about the relaxation of restrictions, but there remains uncertainty; have I had my vaccines, what is the threat out there, and what about the future?
What is re-entry anxiety?
Re-entry anxiety is fear of the changes that occur when we start to get our lives back to how they were – socialising, travelling, working. Leaving our bubbles can trigger a range of thoughts/concerns such as:
- Worried about the risk of COVID-19 (contamination/transmission)
- Uneasy about mixing with lots of people
- Uncertain about changes in your workplace
- Nervous about doing your job again
- Anxious thoughts about being in crowded spaces
- Having nothing to say in social situations
- Being concerned about your appearance and how people may judge you
- Feeling that you don’t want things to change too much or go back to the way they were before
These thoughts can grow and develop in our mind, to such an extent that we start questioning whether we are OK and whether we can succeed again. After a year of feeling safe and protected in our bubbles, choosing which clothes to wear, how and when we speak to others and having had almost no physical social interaction, it’s inevitable that getting back on the Tube, eating in a restaurant or working alongside a colleague can be seen as challenging.
Helping to managing your anxiety
To help manage these changes and reduce the impact of anxiety, it’s important to also focus on how beneficial some of the changes may be:
- Being able to see colleagues again
- Being able to separate your home and work life
- Getting back to a routine that you’ve missed
- Expanding your world from a few rooms to many
- Seeing loved ones in their own space rather than via Zoom
We can also check out what things have been put in place to help mitigate any risk, such as finding out what changes your workplace have made to mitigate COVID, i.e. extra hand washing facilities, use of screens, staggered hours to reduce travel during busy periods. We can also do some personal things which can help manage and reduce anxiety:
- Breathe deeply into your belly, using your diaphragm. Try to make the inhale and exhale of equal length.
- Create some self-soothing statements which you recite internally: “It will be fun to see my friends again”, or, “I used to like these sorts of events” “I’ve got lots of experience of this” “People will respect my boundaries”.
- Go for a walk-in nature and remind yourself of your connection to yourself, other people and the planet.
- Talk to others and check out how they’re doing
- Organise a meeting with a psychotherapist or counsellor who can help with many of these concerns.
We’ve all been through a tough and unpredictable year, using up resources to make and manage it. So as we now start our return towards the life we knew, we need to be compassionate, understanding and recognise that some days we’ll manage better than others.
Click here to learn more about Anxiety Counselling at KlearMinds.
For most people, the easing of lockdown can’t come soon enough. We’re looking forward to hugging our loved ones, spending time with friends and getting back to our hobbies. But for those who suffer with anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder, the pandemic has been even more difficult to cope with. We’ve written about anxiety related to COVID-19 before, but what about the anxiety-inducing situations we’re faced with as lockdowns come to an end, from spending time in crowds, shaking hands and meeting new people? We’ve compiled some of our top tips for helping you to cope as the world reopens.
Talk to someone you can trust
Sharing your concerns and worries can help alleviate them, so find someone you can trust and who you feel comfortable talking to. There’s a good chance that they are feeling a similar way, which will help you to feel supported and like your worries aren’t unwarranted. If your anxiety is making it difficult to do things in your everyday life, it can be beneficial to speak to a counsellor who can help you get to the bottom of what’s bothering you.
You know yourself best, so consider the situations where you’re feeling the most anxious and think about how you can ease the nervousness you feel about them. For example, if the thought of taking public transport and being surrounded by crowds fills you with dread, is there a different way you can travel that will make the situation easier for you? Maybe you can travel at a different time of day so as to minimise the number of people around you. Taking a proactive approach to your anxiety can help you feel more in control, which can reduce the stress you feel.
Misinformation only fuels anxiety and makes social situations seem even more terrifying, so remember that education is key. Make sure you’re armed with the facts from reputable, reliable sources so that you can be confidence what is safe and what isn’t. However, try not to become consumed by “doom scrolling” through social media or watching the news too much if this causes further anxiety. Limit yourself to once a day to gather up to date information and stay up to date on the latest guidance from the experts to ease your worries.
Show yourself compassion
The easing of lockdown and returning to normality is another big adjustment, after over a year of strict guidelines, so be patient with yourself. There’s an expectation that once social activities are available, everyone should be returning to pre-pandemic life immediately. But that’s not necessarily the case for everyone, especially those with anxiety. So, don’t feel pressured to get involved if you’re not ready – take it at your own pace and be honest with those around you if you need more time to adjust.
Focus on the positives
Anxiety can shroud the positive aspects of situations, making it feel like there’s nothing enjoyable to look forward to. But remember that this is the anxiety talking and not the reality. While there are likely to be social distancing measures and masks involved for some time yet, there are still positives aspects to lockdowns being lifted. From visiting family to getting coffee with a friend, seeing colleagues you used to chat to in the office and taking part in distanced group activities once again, focus on the things that used to bring you joy. You may find it helpful to list out the things you’re looking forward to, so you can refer to it when you’re feeling anxious.
Social anxiety can be difficult to manage, and it can be a lonely experience that leaves those affected feeling disconnected. If you need support with your anxiety, our trained counsellors can help. We offer a range of counselling services, including cognitive behavioural therapy, online counselling and life coaching to suit your needs. Contact KlearMinds today to learn more.
A public health crisis such as the coronavirus pandemic is not something any of us have experienced before, which makes 2020 a truly unprecedented year. The impact on our lives in terms of stress and anxiety should not be underestimated.
Everyone feels different about what is going on around them, and every person reacts in their own way. Whether you are anxious about getting ill, worried about losing your job, frustrated about not being able to socialise or bored working from home, please remember that all of these feelings are perfectly natural.
During times of uncertainty, we need to take good care of our mental health and wellbeing. Here are some simple things we can all do to help us think clearly, so we can look after ourselves and our loved ones.
1 – Get the facts
While there is no shortage of information about coronavirus available in the media, not all sources are trustworthy. Conflicting advice can make things more difficult, affecting you and those around you. Whether you get your updates from social media, newsfeeds or other people, it is important to fact check everything before you choose to believe it or pass it on.
The best course of action is to find credible sources you can trust, such as official government and NHS information. If you find it upsetting to read or watch coverage of the current outbreak, limit your exposure to news and current affairs to maybe once a day – or switch it off altogether.
2 – Talk about difficult feelings
It is perfectly normal to feel worried, scared or helpless in the current situation. One of the best things you can do is to share your concerns with others that are in your confidence, acknowledging that some things are outside of your control.
However, if you have no-one to talk to or sharing your feelings has not helped, and you feel overwhelmed by constant anxiety about coronavirus, we are here to help. KlearMinds is providing online therapy so you can get the help you need, as safely as possible. Contact us here for more information and to book an online session.
3 – Stay connected
Maintaining healthy relationships with friends and family in times of crisis is crucial for our mental wellbeing. As much as official regulations allow, make a point of meeting up with people in person (always following social distancing and health advice).
If face-to-face meetings are not possible, or you are shielding at home, technology is now easily available to allow you to stay in touch via phone, video calls, social media or online meeting apps.
4 – Look after your physical needs
Your physical health has a huge impact on how you feel. This is not the time to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour that can make you feel worse. Instead, pay extra attention to looking after yourself.
Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and keep sufficiently hydrated. Make sure you incorporate exercise into your daily routine – a walk, run, bike ride or workout can really help lift your mood and clear your mind. Maintain good sleep hygiene and a regular bedtime, ensuring you get 7-8 hours sleep a night. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, screen time and energetic activity, especially just before bedtime.
5 – Focus on the present
Paying attention to the here and now rather than worrying about the future can help to improve your wellbeing and deal with difficult emotions. There are many relaxation techniques available to help with feelings of anxiety – take a look at mindfulness and meditation apps such as Calm, Headspace.
Ground yourself in the present by doing something you really enjoy. Do you have a favourite hobby that you feel passionate about? Would you love to learn a new skill? Whether you love reading or gardening, painting or playing an instrument, helping in the community or practising yoga, losing yourself in an activity can help with anxious thoughts and feelings.
The impact of changing from a regular routine to a period of uncertainty has been well-discussed in relation to mental health, especially in terms of how this influences an individual’s feelings of anxiety.
These feelings have understandably been of great concern over recent months but, as the lockdown restrictions have slowly eased, life is gradually returning to some sense of normality and the attention on mental health is shifting in another direction.
With this in mind, how can you ensure you embrace post-lockdown life in as calm and stress-free a way as possible?
Being aware of how things change and how this might affect us is usually the best place to start, especially when it comes to managing yet another shift in routine.
In this article, we have highlighted two of the main changes you are likely to encounter over the next few weeks, as well as the potential impacts these changes could have.
Returning To Work
As we move away from pandemic-style working life into a new post-lockdown environment, anxiety levels may be starting to rise in certain people.
Because of this, it’s important to now understand why these changes are occurring so that you can prioritise your mental health as your working environment becomes more COVID-secure.
In light of these changes, it’s perfectly normal to feel uncertain. Some studies suggest that it can take more than two months for new behaviours to feel more familiar. With lockdown lasting almost double that length of time, all changes you now have to encounter should, therefore, be considered as ‘new’ again.
It goes without saying that it will take time for you to adjust. But, as you move through the process, make sure to prioritise your mental wellbeing, taking steps to minimise any feelings of anxiety or stress you encounter along the way.
Over the past few months, we have all been frequently told about the potential dangers involved with arranging group activities, parties or mass gatherings.
Depending on your living arrangements throughout lockdown, social interactions could now therefore be a more unfamiliar occurrence than ever before.
With this in mind, it’s completely understandable to feel some sort of social anxiety towards the prospect of integrating with other households once again.
Although restrictions have now been somewhat lifted, you should take your time, move at your own pace and prioritise your mental health when choosing which individuals and households you want to interact with.
For some people, going from sole interaction with your own household to the prospect of meeting in groups of six can understandably feel rather daunting.
However, by managing your stress in the right way, you can quickly start taking the steps required to minimise any social anxieties you feel.
The stresses of COVID-19 are understandably causing a powerful impact on our mental health. Financial pressures, furlough schemes and even social anxieties are all weighing on our minds as we start to think about seeing our friends and families again.
However, for now at least, we are still in the midst of the lockdown, forcing us to stay alert and maintain social distancing measures. It is still, therefore, imperative we all take care of our mental health as a priority.
With this in mind, join us as we run through some anxiety-reducing at-home activities you can try with your partner. Whether you’re looking to strengthen your relationship or reduce your level of stress, the ideas listed below are a good place to start.
Cooking & Baking
By cooking up a dish that reminds you of your childhood, or baking up a favourite sweet treat can be an effective way of relieving feelings of stress and anxiety.
Since our sense of smell is so closely associated to memory recall, cooking and baking can quickly direct you towards your most cherished memories.
By reliving the scent of the bread that wafted through your grandmother’s house or cooking a dish that your mother taught you to make, you will work towards boosting both your and your partner’s mood.
Arts & Crafts
Being creative can be a fantastic way to reduce your level of anxiety. Whether you decide to pick up an old hobby, teach your partner a craft you know yourself, or decide to learn something entirely new together, there is a whole host of ways to be creative while at home.
Painting, sewing, knitting, clay work – whatever you decide to do, arts and crafts therapies such as these are a proven way of blocking out stress and enabling individuals to express themselves in a healthy manner.
Meditation & Yoga
While meditation focuses primarily on relaxing and repairing the mind, yoga helps strengthen the body and improves flexibility.
With a unique set of associated anxiety and stress-reducing effects, you and your partner can quickly learn how to control your way of thinking, slow your breathing and relax your mind.
Massages and Self-Care
Why not consider combining a few at-home therapies like aromatherapy and massages with your self-care activities? Run a bath for one another surrounded by relaxing lavender scents and use a variety of essential oils to bring you closer together during a massage.
Going one step further, you could even choose to pamper yourselves while in the same room as each other or perform treatments on another in turns. From foot spas to facemasks, pair any self-care activities you try with relaxing music and watch the stresses of lockdown start to melt away as you enjoy your time together.
After forcing millions of people to stay inside, the COVID-19 pandemic has raised huge concerns over the mental health and well-being of everyone, everywhere.
While staying on top of our physical health is obviously imperative right now, keeping your mental health in check is also vital, in order to ensure your brain is being consistently stimulated.
If you are looking for ways to do this effectively, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered.
1 – Read With Caution.
While it may be hard to escape COVID-19 news at the moment, you shouldn’t believe everything you hear. With news outlets writing scary and often misleading headlines, it’s easy for information to spread around the web like wildfire.
Therefore, to control your levels of coronavirus-induced anxiety, try and avoid being constantly reminded about it. Only read and listen to news channels you trust, and keep your brain stimulated using various activities to keep your mind away from the latest updates.
2 – Keep Healthy.
Keeping fit is vital towards safeguarding both your physical and mental health. And, while going to your local gym may be more difficult right now, there are still a number of ways to keep active while stuck at home.
Whether it be an at-home fitness workout DVD, yoga in front of the TV, or simply dusting off your old Wii Fit, exercising will help you feel more energetic and upbeat about how you’re spending your time in lockdown.
3 – Practice Mindfulness.
Having been practised for thousands of years, mindfulness techniques, like meditation, tai chi, CBT and yoga, can help you make sense of what’s real while teaching you how to remain calm during typically stress-inducing scenarios.
From learning how to breathe in the correct manner to compartmentalising your way of thinking, mindfulness teaches you how to become a more resilient person while taking a firmer grip of your own mind.
4 – Try Online Counselling.
If you’re really struggling with self-isolation at the moment and are feeling overwhelmed or trapped by your own thoughts, worries or concerns, online counselling could help you get back on track.
Here at KlearMinds, while we are having to abide by the government’s current restrictions, we are offering an online counselling service to anyone who needs to talk about their issues. Whether you require couples counselling, help getting through a bereavement or a conversation regarding your mental health, our team of therapists are equipped with the expertise to help with a wide range of problems from wherever you are in the UK.
To find out more about this service, please click here or contact our team on 0333 772 0256.
The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in many changes to our lives in the last few weeks, leaving many of us facing a varied array of emotions.
Whether it be growing fears over contracting coronavirus itself, cabin fever from being stuck at home day in day out, or a feeling of paranoia from self-isolating, it’s imperative to focus on our mental health and concentrate on our wellbeing over the coming weeks.
The lockdown has forced many of us to change our routines and plans, ultimately knocking our minds into an unfamiliar frequency. In light of this, it’s important to move with the changing times and reprogram our minds to ensure we can deal with anything that comes our way – a similar concept to that used within cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) treatment programs.
The principles of CBT work on the premise of altering people’s attitudes and behaviour, changing how someone responds to and deals with an emotional problem. This is particularly relevant when it comes to dealing with the mental repercussions of self-isolating; by recognising and understanding our own cognitive processes, we can alleviate the feeling of stress currently being felt throughout the nation.
Recognising The Changes in Your Routine
With our daily routines and timetables being disturbed, it can be easy to pay too much attention to our body’s defence mechanisms by worrying and panicking. However, by taking the time to recognise how our routines are being changed, this can help us to process these changes in a very different way.
Redefine your own routine and find methods that suit the adaption in a way which benefits you personally. Don’t let the lockdown take away control of your routine – set new goals and milestones to take back control of your day.
Understanding The Effects on Brain Processing
We all have an inherent ‘fight or flight’ mechanism that floods the brain with adrenaline as a primitive biological response. However, the coronavirus outbreak doesn’t warrant this type of response, since neither taking on or running away from the virus are viable options.
In other words, there is no correct response to combat this pandemic and it is therefore entirely up to you how you decide to respond to it.
Creating Healthy Coping Mechanisms
Through reflecting, recognising and reacting to our new environments we can start to slow down our bodies’ innate need to respond, giving us time to decide on new ways to combat stress that suit you as an individual.
Try and concentrate on things you already know alleviate stress; set a routine, get a good night’s rest and, where possible, bathe in natural light. Keep your brain active with various tasks, puzzles or games, and undertake mindfulness techniques. Create achievable goals, keep active and develop a new fitness routine.
By changing the way your brain processes events such as COVID-19, you can reduce some of the anxiety this could be causing. Re-align your thoughts and re-examine your attitude towards the situation before adapting your behaviour in a way that feels healthy and productive.
Our qualified therapists here at KlearMinds can offer expert support to provide a more in-depth understanding of how CBT can help with the challenge of maintaining mental wellbeing during self-isolation. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us today or visit our online counselling page.
According to the mental health charity Mind, one in six people per week report experiencing a mental health problem such as anxiety or depression in England. If you suffer from depression, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help you break negative thought patterns and aid recovery.
Research has found that people with depression may inadvertently suppress positive emotions with thoughts such as ‘I don’t deserve to be happy’ or ‘This good feeling won’t last’. This is called ‘dampening’, a negative defence mechanism to protect from potential disappointment.
CBT has been shown to help significantly with treating depression, allowing you and your therapist to work together to break the thinking error cycle and allow happy thoughts to remain. With the help of regular CBT sessions and additional self-practice, you can identify negative patterns and work towards leaving them behind. Here are 5 CBT techniques to help you.
1 – Recognise the problem and brainstorm solutions
Both journalling and talking with your therapist can help you to discover the root of your depression. When you’ve hit on something, write down in simple sentences exactly what is bothering you, then think of ways to improve things. One of the tell-tale signs of depression is the feeling that things will never get better. Making a written list of things you can do to address the situation – taking steps to join a local club to beat loneliness, for instance – can help ease feelings of depression.
2 – Write down self-statements to counteract each negative thought
Once you’ve identified the root problem of your depression, think of all the negative thoughts you use to dampen any positive thoughts, then write a self-statement to counteract each one – for example ‘It’s OK to have a good day’ to replace ‘I am so depressed right now’. Repeat them back to yourself and commit them to memory, so that you can use them whenever necessary. In time, you will create new associations to replace your negative thought patterns with positive ones.
3 – Look for opportunities to turn negatives into positive thoughts
If your immediate reaction to something is always a negative one, you can retrain your brain to think positively. As an example, rather than thinking ‘I hate the colour of this room’ upon entering, find 5 things in the room that you feel positive about. It’s a good idea to set your alarm three times a day to reframe your thoughts into something positive. If possible, buddy up with someone who is working on the same technique, then celebrate your successes together.
4 – Finish each day with a gratitude journal entry
Starting a gratitude journal is a great habit to get into. Finish each day by writing an entry that focuses on the day’s best bits. By simply focusing on the positives and writing down what you are most grateful for, it can help you form new associations in your mind and create new pathways. Your day may go from ‘Another boring day at the office’ when you wake up to ‘What a beautiful sunny day it was’ when you come to writing your journal entry at bedtime.
5 – Put your disappointments into perspective
Everyone has ups and downs and disappointing situations are a part of normal life. It’s your reaction to each disappointment that can determine how quickly you can move forward. For instance, after a relationship breakup you may be blaming yourself thinking ‘no-one will ever find me attractive again’. A healthier approach would be to allow yourself to feel disappointed about the things you cannot change, but write down your lessons learnt and what you can do differently next time.
At KlearMinds we are aware that people with depression often don’t respond well to self-study, which is why we recommend a course of CBT with one of our trained therapists. That way, your therapist can teach you helpful CBT strategies to counteract negative thinking patterns associated with depression, then help you stay on track with practising the techniques at home. For more information or to book an appointment, please contact us.
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