Easing Lockdown Anxiety

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As we move into a new phase of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown measures continue to be relaxed, the thought of venturing outside more and picking up our lives where we left off may feel a struggle after such an extended period where, up until recently, the message has been ‘stay at home!’ This is uncharted territory, so it’s understandable if some people feel anxious, especially when fear of the unknown and concerns about health and loved ones is wrapped in uncertainty. 

The term ‘Coronaphobia’ is already being used in the media in recognition of rising mental health issues due to the impact of coronavirus. A phobia is essentially a form of anxiety where sufferers usually describe having an overwhelming fear or sense of danger about something, in this case the fear of returning to normality once lockdown has been lifted. This perceived fear can trigger a physical response in the body known as the stress response (or ‘fight or flight’) which causes physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, racing pulse, sweaty palms and dry mouth, as well as feeling anxious and panicky.

Some anxiety is perfectly normal and can help us perform more optimally or keep us safe (e.g. motivate us to maintain social distancing). However, when our anxiety levels reach an unhealthy level it can start to impact on our lives in more negative ways. Signs of this may include recurring negative thoughts or worries about the future, problems sleeping, checking the news constantly for covid-19 updates, or in more severe cases, panic attacks. 

Helpful tips to manage anxious feelings:

  1. Breathe…. As obvious as this may sound, take a few nice, deep breaths as soon as you start to notice any uncomfortable, anxious feelings and focus on the sensation of your breath as you inhale and exhale. Our breath acts a bit like an anchor in an emotional storm and can help us re-centre ourselves and return our breathing to its normal rhythm when our body goes into ‘fight or flight’ response. 
  1. Ground yourself. Take a moment to connect with your environment: notice 5 things you can see, 5 things you can hear and 5 things you can touch, or feel on your skin. The aim here is to refocus your attention on the present moment, rather than on anxious thoughts, which are generally future oriented and based on a perceived threat or danger. 
  2. Notice your internal dialogue. Are the thoughts you’re having helpful, or are they contributing to your uncomfortable feelings? It’s not uncommon for people having anxious thoughts to catastrophise and make negative predictions about the future. Ask yourself, “Is this thought fact or opinion?” and then “what is absolutely true about this situation?” Another useful question to ask when observing any negative thoughts is, “is this thought helpful to me right now?” and if not, then ask “what would be helpful to think right now?” 
  3. Make choices to control the things you can.  Accepting that some things are out of your control and focusing on the things that are within your control can help you feel more empowered. It can be helpful to write down a list of all the things worrying you about post-lockdown. Then take two separate pieces of paper and on one list write all the things you can’t control and on the other, all the things you can. For example, lock-down rules relaxing are something you can’t control. However, you can control the amount of Covid-19 media you consume, for example, or decide what measures you will take to protect yourself as much as you are able and feel comfortable with.

The NCH (National Council for Hypnotherapy) estimate that over 11% of the population have some form of irrational fear, so it’s more common than you may think. Most phobias are a learned response, which is a good thing because it means they can also be unlearned. Clinical hypnotherapy has much success with the treatment of anxiety, helping you change the way you think, feel and respond to a certain situation, helping you feel more relaxed and giving you a greater sense of control in your own life. 

If you would like to know more about Clinical Hypnotherapy or would like to book an appointment with Penny then please do contact The Thornbury Clinic on 01454 838366 or info@thethornburyclinic.co.uk. You can also book online at www.thethornburyclinic.co.uk

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