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Help Counselling is here to support you during this lockdown

Sue Brayne, Trustee of Help Counselling

This third lockdown comes with its own stresses and strains. Many people are exhausted from finding ways to survive the chaos and challenges we have all been facing since the first lockdown back in April. Each of us has been doing this in our own way, but it is taking a serious mental health toll as we continue to be presented with distressing news about the overload that our wonderful NHS is coping with, and not much hope of things easing for a while.

Some clients say that they have started to realise that they have been existing between the states of survival and struggle for so long it has become normal for them. This means headaches, anxiety and poor sleep are just part of their everyday experience. However, even the smallest extra pressure can push things over the edge, giving rise to feelings of anger and resentment, overwhelm or compassion fatigue.

Here are a few Help Counselling pointers to support you:

Coping with anger and resentment.

It’s really important to understand that everyone is on edge after last year, so tempers can fray much more quickly as this current lockdown continues:

If you feel anger and resentment rising, here are some suggestions to ease it:

  • STOP and take a breath or two
  • Notice what has triggered the anger
  • Leave the room for a few minutes
  • Walk outside until you feel calmer
  • Listen to some soothing music
  • Write down how you are feeling or draw it
  • Be mindful of how much you may be drinking – alcohol can fuel aggressive behaviour.
  • Notice where you are carrying tension in your body and breathe into it or stretch it out.
  • After the anger eases, perhaps you can tell someone how you were feeling.

Feeling overwhelmed

Many clients have had their lives turned upside down through job losses and financial hardship and have no idea if they will ever be able to return to a sense of normality for the foreseeable future. Many are also having to home-school their children, while other young people are struggling with isolation and the lack of work. The thought of this can feel so overwhelming clients say they are on the verge of tears most of the time. Many clients are also feeling deeply distressed about being continually separated from friends and especially elderly relatives who are not part of their household bubbles, or who are having to self-isolate or are in locked down care-homes.

If you find you are feeling overwhelmed, here are some suggestions to help yourself:

  • Do what you can within your emotional and financial means to create some kind of workable structure in your life.
  • Sit down with the family (on zoom if necessary) and talk through how you can create a safe and sustainable way of getting through this lockdown.
  • If you are living in a family bubble, take time out for yourself whenever you can – even if it’s for a few minutes.
  • Go for lots of walks with the family or on your own.
  • This can be really hard with young children but try and get some sleep or at least a rest during the day.
  • Stay in contact with elderly relatives in any way you can.
  • Stay in regular contact with friends on zoom or join zoom groups via the internet.
  • Have a damn good cry!

Combatting compassion fatigue

We’ve all been struggling over these past months and we can forget that some people are finding it particularly difficult to cope even if it appears on the surface, they have all they need. It’s too easy to dismiss them by saying something along the lines of, ‘Well, think about how lucky you are.’ While, of course, it’s important to be grateful for what we have, a response like this is not supportive because it makes us feel wrong or inadequate.

Here are a few suggestions to help to put things into perspective:

  • Don't compare how you are feeling to anyone else. We are all dealing with the stress of this Covid lockdown in our own way.
  • Don't feel guilty if you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed – it's a normal response to a very distressing extended period of time.
  • Don't feel you are wrong to feel like you do. Your feelings are as valid as anyone else's.
  • Choose people to talk to who are willing to really listen to you. These may not be family or old friends.
  • When someone is in distress, practice kindness and compassion. Afterall, we are all in this together.
  • Remember, listening with compassion is one of the greatest gifts we can give to each other.
  • And, remember this time will pass. We just don’t know when.

Help Counselling is here to support you in any way we can. You can contact us on 01225 767459.

If you need urgent emotional support, please call the Samaritans free on 116 123.

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