You've got this! Expert tips to get you through lockdown 2.0

Weary. Angry. Tired. Scared.

There’s a good chance you’ve felt at least one of these emotions in the last few weeks as we all cope with the challenges of COVID-19.

Dr Suzy Redston, our Medical Director, Mental Health, says that’s a completely normal reaction to the world we currently find ourselves in.

“COVID has caused a massive, sudden change to our personal and professional lives. Nothing can prepare you for that,” Suzy said.

“Many of us in health manage with a high level of background anxiety but right now this may be a little bit more heightened than normal.

“On top of what we may be dealing with at work, it’s also completely natural to be struggling with the impact of Stage 4 restrictions which mean we have less person to person contact and fewer outlets to release our stress than we normally have," she said.

But Suzy said there are things that we can all do to help us through something that none of us have ever dealt with before.

“Some of the options available to us are not the same as they would be without COVID but we need to adapt,” she said. 

“The simplest place to start is to take a break, even if it’s not part of your usual practice. Get up, go outside if you can but just change your surroundings.

“Another easy thing to do is to pay someone else a compliment. Random acts of kindness have incredible benefits for both the giver and the receiver.

“Yoga is also a great way to relax yourself but not everyone has access to the tools they need so even just sitting and being is a form of mindfulness that helps to reduce stress.

“There is very good evidence that suggests human contact is helpful and fulfills our need to connect with others so going for a 15 minute, socially distanced walk is great or even going outside at home and connecting with someone in the street without leaving your property will make a difference," she said.

Suzy said there may still be days where your emotions start to build up despite your best efforts.

“It’s important that we find constructive ways to express any frustration or anger we may feel, and exercise is one way to do this.

“Another option is to write a letter to COVID-19 and tell it what you think about it. Once you’ve been able to get your negative feelings out on paper then you can screw up your letter and throw it away or burn it in your fireplace as a way to clear away those emotions.

“We need to keep checking in on ourselves and those around us particularly if they seem more snappy, cynical or disengaged than normal.

“We don’t need to be therapists but asking if someone needs a hand or thanking them if they do open up does make a difference. It’s OK if you’re not necessarily equipped to help resolve their concerns but listening and helping to point them in the direction of support is an important step.

“As hard as it can be to see at the moment, this current situation won’t last forever and maintaining hope for the future is vital to managing the present,” Suzy said.