Good morning and welcome back to Mental Health Monday on The Spoonie Mummy. Today in England, the restrictions begin to ease for the people who have been shielding since March. While exciting, these changes are also happening very quickly and have caused feelings of worry and anxiety to rise in many.
I thought I would tackle this subject today, as I know many of you have been feeling the same way about this. Unfortunately, I don’t have all the answers (SORRY!) but the main thing I want you to know is you are not alone. Many of us feel the same way. We don’t know what will happen and how exactly we will move forward, but one thing we can do is all support one another.
Firstly, I thought I would clarify the new rules for you. From today, anybody in the shielding group can begin to meet up with others, outside, in groups of up to 6 people (including you). People will need to observe social distancing (2m) at all times.
From August 1st, shielding ends and we will be subject to the same restrictions and rules as others in the area we live in (I say it this way as some areas are experiencing local lockdowns).
Remember: the general rules about hand washing, not touching your face, wearing a face mask and staying socially distant from others when out and about are all important and should still be regular behaviours we adhere to.
Obviously my first reaction was one of complete joy. Being able to see my family again had me in tears… even though I still won’t get a Mummy cuddle, being able to spend some time with them will be so good for me.
Even though we have had Zoom chats and my Dad socially distancing dropping off my shopping, it hasn’t been the same as being able to relax in each other’s company. Socially, us spoonies rely on social media for much of our contact with others. I thought I would ace lockdown, being used to not getting out and seeing people all the time was my norm.
But that wasn’t the case and I have missed seeing my support network of close family and friends so much. Although I rely on my chronic illness support network online – they are there for me and truly understand how I am feeling when I am struggling – it doesn’t make up for physically being around others.
After the initial elation, I felt the anxiety creep up on me. Questions about the speed of the easing and how we could possibly go back to ‘normal‘ from August had me thinking. The thinking turned into worrying which turned into fear.
When you have anxiety your thought process tends to start tumbling from a couple of worries before free-falling into huge bouts of overwhelming fear. The thoughts spiral quickly out of control , almost constantly occupy your mind and begin to impact on the things you would usually enjoy.
I would love to be able to reassure you and say that everything is going to be okay, but nobody has that knowledge about the future with the virus. The news and social media don’t always help, offering up conflicting information and stories, opinions and downright scaremongering at times.
As I said, there is no quick fix and I cannot give you any promises about the future of life with Covud-19 still around.
I have two posts about coping with anxiety – one which has some grounding techniques and the other with some advice for general anxiety surrounding the lockdown situation, which I will tag here rather than repeating myself.
Grounding techniques are really good for when you feel the overwhelming, struggling to breathe, closing in kind of fear. They are often focused on breathing and help you connect back to the present and reset that flight, flight or freeze response going on in your body.
In the 12 Ways To Cope With Anxiety During Lockdown post there are lots of different ways which can help and that can be used in a variety of different situations, including while lockdown is being eased. Tips such as not over consuming news, focusing on what you can control and looking after yourself are all really important still. As with when lockdown started, everybody was fearful of the unknown but by being gentle with ourselves, we settled into the ‘new normal’. The same will come as the restrictions ease.
Focusing on what you can control really can help. Although the restrictions are easing, you can do this as quickly or slowly as you like. I am looking forward to seeing close family and my best friend this month but won’t be rushing straight back to the shops in August, even though I have missed the normality of doing the weekly food shop.Start small and anchor yourself in the things you can trust and what you do know. Nobody has all of the answers, but this will help you find a balance in yourself with the things you don’t know.
It feels hard because it is hard. There is no right way to cope with this situation and you need to do whatever feels safe and is practical for you. Just know that you are not alone in these feelings and while we all feel excited to be allowed some sense of normality to return, our health will always mean we worry abut the potential consequences of catching the Coronavirus. The last thing you need during this time of stressful daily life is to be beating up yourself because of your feelings. Remember:
Take care and keep safe,
If your anxiety is severely impacting your life you may want to speak to a professional about it. My post – Where Can I Find Support For My Mental Health – has a range of different resources that may be helpful.