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, instead focusing on 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 with treating depression, allowing you and your therapist to work together to break the thinking error cycle and allow happy positive 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, or typed, 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.
Having trouble controlling your negative thoughts? Feeling anxious or depressed and wish you could switch off those thoughts? Sometimes, it’s those thoughts, rather than a particular situation or incident that may be causing anxiety or depression.
What are Cognitive Distortions/Errors?
Thinking errors happen when your thoughts and reality don’t match up, often without you even realising. These are also called ‘cognitive distortions’. They’re faulty patterns of thinking that are self-defeating, meaning it’s possible to get caught in a loop of negative thinking that can end up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. And they happen to all of us, for example:
I’ve just failed that test. I’m a useless student and should never study again
Holding this thought might prevent you studying again or doing anything where testing is involved.
If the initial thinking error is dealt with appropriately, the negative cycle (see diagram below) and any resulting depression or anxiety could be avoided.
The diagram below shows how the thinking error cycle could get triggered after someone is invited to a party, when the day of the party arrives:
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help you recognise your distorted thoughts and learn to question them. With practice, you can learn to break the cycle of negativity that could be triggered by negative thinking, and replace it with a healthier, more balanced way of thinking.
Here are 7 common thinking errors that can be helped by CBT.
1 “All or Nothing” Thinking
If you are routinely thinking of things in terms of ‘never’ or ‘always’, you may be tempted to view anything less than perfect as a failure. Try to find the ‘in between’ and learn to accept that there is a wide range of possible outcomes between complete disaster and total perfection.
If you get 85 per cent correct on a test, you think you are a complete failure because you missed 15 per cent.
If you don’t look like a model, you decide you are really ugly.
You’re passed up for a promotion at work, so you think that means the company is planning to make you redundant.
Try to find the “in between”. Remind yourself that there is usually a broad spectrum of outcomes between absolute perfection and complete disaster. Very few situations are truly all-or-nothing.
If you are thinking of something in terms of “never” or “always”, can you think of an exception? If so, that means it’s not truly “never” or “always.”
- Is it really that bad or am I being extreme?
- What other ways are there of looking at this situation?
2 Mental Filter
Are you dwelling on the negative aspects of any given situation, disregarding the positive side? If so, you may need to shift your mindset to acknowledge the good things that exist and learn not to let your negative thinking dominate.
Your presentation was well received by your superiors at work, but you noticed a typo in one of the slides. Instead of enjoying the compliments your boss gave you, you’re only thinking about the typo and expecting to get terminated soon for paying poor attention to detail.
Focus on the concrete facts. In the example above, your boss said you did a great job. That’s a concrete fact. Don’t waste time thinking about the unknowns; the possibility of you getting sacked is an unknown.
Try to rewrite the problem or situation as though you were telling it to a sensitive child. Only include the positive parts of the story. Then read it when you’re feeling overly anxious.
- What are the positives in this situation? Try to focus on them more.
3 Fortune telling
Do you tend to jump to conclusions based on your negative thinking, convinced that a certain situation or opportunity is bound to turn out badly? Rather than letting foregone conclusions limit your thinking, learn that you do have control over the outcome.
“If I apply for this job, they will laugh at me and toss my CV.”
“If I ask this girl out, she will definitely turn me down.”
- How do you know it will turn out this way?
- What facts do you have that prove this negative outcome will inevitably occur?
- How do you benefit from reaching this conclusion?
- What will happen to you if you continue thinking this way?
4 Mind Reading
Similarly, you may be making negative assumptions about a person’s intentions or thoughts. While you engage in a thinking error known as ‘mind reading’, you are assuming people focus on your flaws through their responses, even though that may not be the case at all.
“My friend didn’t answer the phone. She must be trying to avoid me because I annoy her.”
“My son’s teacher must think I’m stupid because I forgot to sign his permission slip.”
- How do you know that?
- Does assuming something make it true?
Even though the conclusions reached from mind reading are often incorrect, it is still helpful to try to let go of your need for approval and accept that you can’t please everyone all the time.
Another type of negative of thinking error is the habit of creating a broad generalisation out of a single isolated incident. But an unpleasant situation that occurred once doesn’t mean that the same thing will happen every time.
Your spouse got mad because you spilled wine on the carpet. You start to think, “He’s mad at me. He always gets mad at me. That probably means he hates me and wants to divorce me. I must be the worst wife in the world.”
You failed your driving test on the first try. You tell yourself you’ll never get your license and you’ll be stuck riding the bus for the rest of your life.
Try to think of times in your life when a particular negative situation did not end up being a sign of things to come or have a long-term outcome.
- Just because this happened once, does that really mean that it’s going to happen every time, or are other outcomes also possible?
6 Disqualifying the positive
Are you constantly dismissing good things, compliments you receive or positive things people say? With this thinking error, you are discounting the good, while looking for a negative message or ulterior motive.
A friend compliments your hair. You decide she is not saying it because it’s true but rather because she wants something from you or is just being polite.
Make a list of your positive attributes and accomplishments.
Try to accept compliments when people give them to you with a simple “thank you”.
- If that doesn’t count, what does count?
- Who decides what counts and what doesn’t?
- Why do you think good things can’t happen to you?
Are you in danger of seeing yourself as the cause of everything negative that happens, even though you are not responsible? You may be feeling guilt or shame as a result of something that is not your fault.
“My daughter didn’t make the soccer team. I’m sure it’s because I didn’t practice enough with her. ”
“My husband hit me because I’m a bad wife.”
- How do you know that? (In the examples above, how do you know your daughter didn’t make the soccer team because of you? Did the coach say so? How do you know you are a bad wife?)
- Challenge yourself to find out just how much responsibility you could truly have for what occurred.
- Try to think of external factors that could have also contributed to the situation.
If you are suffering from thinking errors, you’ll be pleased to hear that recognising cognitive distortions is the first step towards correcting them. Your negative thought patterns can be changed.
At KlearMinds, we have experienced cognitive behavioural therapists that can help you address your individual issues and give you the tools to change your thoughts for the better. Please feel free to contact us.
Beck, J. S. 2010. Cognitive Therapy. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–3.
Burns, David D., MD. (1989). The Feeling Good Handbook. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc.
15 Common Cognitive Distortions
How Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Can Help With Depression
How CBT Can Help with Anxiety
Climate change feels like an insurmountable challenge for all of us right now, and with daily updates in the media about the state of the planet, it’s unsurprising that eco-anxiety is on the rise. In particular, eco-anxiety is something affecting younger people who are feeling intense worry and depression about the climate crisis.
It’s understandable that we should be feeling this way with so much to contend with. But positive action can feel harder to achieve when you’re struggling with your mental health. So, with that in mind, how can you manage your symptoms of anxiety?
What is eco-anxiety?
Eco-anxiety was dubbed in 2017 as ‘a chronic fear of environmental doom’ by the American Psychiatric Association. While it’s not an officially diagnosable condition, mental health professionals are aware of the impact that it can have on a person’s wellbeing and psychological health.
This can manifest as reduced feelings of autonomy and control, feeling helpless and fearful, aggressive, or as depression. It can cause chronic stress and may also lead to people experiencing general symptoms of anxiety, such as sleep problems, trouble concentrating, fatigue, nervousness or panic attacks. For those already struggling with mental health disorders, the worry surrounding the environment may exacerbate their symptoms.
Tips for managing eco-anxiety
Understanding how to manage your symptoms of anxiety in a healthy way is the first step to tackling your condition and avoiding it overwhelming you. Here are some of our tips for taking positive action to control climate-related anxiety.
Learn to recognise your anxiety as a reasonable and entirely natural reaction to what’s going on around you. You’re certainly not alone in feeling worry or concern for the environment – in fact, millions of people around the world are having the same fears as you are. It’s easy to worry that you’re not doing enough or that you’re not living up to the perfect standards you may have set for yourself. But understand that any positive action you take is beneficial and that no-one can do it all on their own. Focus on what’s within your control and try to be kind to yourself.
Speak to someone about how you’re feeling. Counselling can be a great way to manage anxiety symptoms, whether you choose in-person sessions or online counselling, enabling you to see a different perspective on the situation and learn what your triggers are. A trained professional will be able to teach you techniques for managing your symptoms more effectively too, such as CBT techniques to help you gain control over anxiety attacks and symptoms of worry and fear.
Educate yourself on the issues and what you can do to make a difference, but don’t dwell on the doom and gloom of the situation, as this may make your anxiety and mental health worse. Instead, focus on joining groups where you can work with other likeminded people or take part in group activities that are designed to have a positive impact.
It’s also worth taking time to invest in your mental and physical wellbeing, as this will boost your mood. Getting active has been proven to help with anxiety and depression, along with spending time in nature, doing relaxing hobbies and activities, and nurturing in-person relationships with those around you who can offer support when you need it.
Climate change is a real concern and something that we all play our part in resolving. But for some of us, the stress and uncertainty of the situation can become consuming, leading to intense stress and poor mental health. From talking to a professional or someone you trust to taking positive action, getting educated on the ways you can make a difference, and investing in self-care to alleviate your anxiety, you can manage your symptoms in a healthier way.
KlearMinds offer a range of counselling, coaching and psychotherapy services to help individuals and couples with their mental health, relationships and career concerns. Contact the team today to book an appointment or for further information.
Does CBT work for anxiety?
When you suffer from anxiety, it is natural for you to want to feel better as soon as possible. Many people seek cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) as their treatment of choice for anxiety issues. This is because evidence-based research demonstrates that CBT for anxiety can be a highly effective treatment; in fact GPs often recommend it. But how long will the treatment take? It’s a question that many people ask when considering treatment.
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.
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