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Lockdown

Life in lockdown – The impact it has on our mental health

Life in lockdown

With all the excitement we initially felt about the year 2020, we only reached mid March and then suddenly we are faced with the impact of the world being in crisis as a frightening Covid 19 virus surfaced. 

The virus spread globally at a super speed with the heavy impact of the largest and most dangerous “Supercell” tornado.

The overwhelming confusion, chaos and uncertainty of being in lockdown and faced with a silent killer leads to feelings of anxiety. 

We become addicted to watching the news for guidance, reassurance and information as we are sent into a “grief” like state for a while.

We try to digest what is happening to make sense of it all as we feel so disorientated.

 

How do I adapt to life in lockdown?

I tried to figure out how this instruction for “lockdown” would play its part in our lives.

Of course, none of us were mentally prepared in any way and naturally there are the logistics of changing our lives in such a dramatic way. 

A challenge for parents who no longer have outside support and are trying to home school for the first time.

NHS workers, key workers and carers are faced with all this emotional distress without the luxury of having the time to digest and reflect on how to manage it.

Straight out to work in really difficult conditions feeling scared as they are facing the reality and trauma of seeing people die from Covid 19.   

 

The effect lockdown has on our mental health

We have been in lockdown for 8 weeks now with still so much uncertainty about when it’s all going to end.

Without clarity and with so much chaos and uncertainty, along with the fear of illness or worse still death we can feel immensely threatened. 

This can lead us to feeling anxious, angry and on an emotional rollercoaster leading to low mood or depression.

When we become triggered by an event such as this our “threat system” is activated. 

This threat system that I am referring to is called the Amygdala, our fight or flight response. It’s purpose is for threat detection and protection so we need the Amygdala but we don’t want to overuse it.

 

Looking for solutions rather than focusing on the problem

After an initial short period of loneliness, boredom, low mood, anxiety and guilt about “what I SHOULD be doing,”

I retreated into myself to reflect and I decided I can use this period as a self healing and growth spurt.

New activities to keep me sane include:

Daily Joe Wicks workouts which has resulted in me valuing exercise even more and raises serotonin levels/endorphins

I’ve baked cakes valuing eating cakes even more (I concluded the 2 things balance each other out)

Mindfulness walks out in nature which includes Vivary park and beyond over Cotlake Hill, Netherclay nature reserve and Long Run

Meditating on a daily basis which reduces stress, anxiety and develops the prefrontal cortex, known as the “soothing system” 

House party and Zoom meetings with friends including those I have not connected with in years. 

Before all this happened who knew about online Apps such as House party, Zoom and TikTok?

Colonel Tom Moore has become a legend as he raises £32 million for the NHS as the momentum continued with much media coverage as we all needed this positive and uplifting man to help us all feel anything other than utter despair.

 

Reflections and resources available

There has never been a bigger challenge for our society and indeed the world in my lifetime than this current period of lockdown. 

It’s okay to feel low, anxious, negative and pessimistic about what the future holds.   Just be mindful that you don’t want to get stuck there …  

You can always aim to look for a positive solution, sometimes it can be helpful to discuss it with someone who is calm and rational.

Connect with friends & family preferably by video rather than just texting, exercise, meditate, bake, cook healthy meals, walk in nature, cycle .. 

 Alternatively you could write a journal so you can reflect on this period in your life.

One day we will look back on this period in our lives and reflect back based on what we have stored in our memory.  Life before and during lockdown!

– What sort of memories are you making right now? 

– Are you reaching out if you need emotional or any other kind of support?

– How has this period of self reflection helped you think about your life, what could you change and what solutions are available to you?

-How do I/we adapt to life in lockdown?

 

There is a quote: “This too shall pass”  and it will, hold in there as it’s a really tough period we are going through.

Reach out for support and don’t keep things bottled up.  There are plenty of people out there who will support you if you allow them to .. 

If you feel you may need some professional support then please do get in contact with me to discuss your situation.  

Text/call me on 07967 753460 or message me by using the contact page.

https://dianeknight.co.uk/counselling-in-taunton/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAxW1XT0iEJo0TYlRfn6rYQ

The link if you fancy giving the Joe Wicks workouts a go. Highly recommended!
A recommendation for a meditation to reduce anxiety and stress!

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Feeling anxious and constantly worrying about everything?

Anxiety is on the increase, especially for our youth. As part of the human condition, we live in a world that offers a lot of uncertainty and there are many different aspects of life that will affect us in many different ways. Most of them are outside of our control or influence:

Politicians and Government bodies making decisions about our future
The erratic and unpredictable weather patterns
Ill health, dying or the death of a loved one
Ageing and our physical appearance

Menopause
Being liked and gaining other people’s approval
Finding employment
Redundancy, being laid off or not enough regular work
Heavy workload and not enough support which presents itself as stress
Inflation and the general cost of day to day living 
Replacing items due to wear and tear 
Children’s safety or empty nest syndrome as they grow up and leave 

The list goes on, I’m sure you can all add a few (or a lot) of your own ..

So what does worrying about all these things do?

 Nada

We can worry until the cows come home (sorry I am a farmers daughter) but worrying about things going wrong doesn’t actually solve anything.  Negative thinking creates neural pathways in our mind which sadly also has a negative impact!

The type of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy i’ve trained in (Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy) uses a simple formula to help you manage your anxiety by finding the irrational belief.  In keeping with simplicity, it’s called the ABC model.

So what does the ABC stand for?

A – Activating event/trigger (The situation that triggers you)
B – Belief (Our interpretation of the event)
C – Consequences (Thoughts, emotions, symptoms, what you feel like doing and your behaviour)

How do I find out the irrational belief?

You don’t need to, that’s for me to help with as i’ve had all the training so i’ll be working collaboratively with you to discover it. It can be quite tricky to find but we will dig it out!

Firstly we work together to look at the A. The situation which happened or the event/trigger (Ie. Suffering with ill health)
We then jump over to the C as we investigate the consequences of what’s happening (Ie. I felt anxious, I had tummy ache, tight chest, felt sick and kept looking online to see what I may have based on the symptoms I was experiencing)

Then we work towards discovering what the B is.
The irrational belief (I MUST have certainty there is nothing seriously wrong with me and that I will be okay) which is actually causing the emotions (I.e Anxiety which explains all the worry)

B causes the C

Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them – Epictetus.

By working together I will help you to change any unhelpful beliefs you hold and educate you on how to manage your emotions better so they don’t control you.

If you would like to know more about CBT and the way I work and to discuss your situation, then please get in touch by calling, texting or sending me a private message.

Tel: 07967 753460

I’m based at Beaux Health and Wellbeing, 20 The Crescent, Taunton and also at Cranleigh Gardens Medical Centre, Bridgwater and for those who are further away, I also offer appointments on Skype. 

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We don’t talk about depression. I don’t want to appear weak!

I want to reach out to the guys out there who are struggling to make sense of how you are feeling and not being able to articulate it for fear of appearing to beunmanly”.

Feelings, emotions, depression .. Yuk, we don’t talk about that stuff. It’s too girly right?

Sorry to break the stigma, but here’s why you are wrong.

For as long as you are a human being who has a brain, you will have an amygdala which is an almond-shaped set of neurons located in the limbic centre of your brain which will create emotions such as anger, anxiety and disgust. 

The amygdala is responsible for the “fight or flight” reactions you have (which come in really handy when you need to flee from a very dangerous situation). We need the amygdala as it’s useful, the message is “Better safe than sorry” but it can be overused.

So here is the paradox:

As long as you are bottling up all these feelings and emotions, it’s likely that you are behaving in a defensive way that’s not particularly helpful. Ie. Drinking too much, self medicating, taking drugs, overeating on junk food, womanising or withdrawing from friends, family and the world in general.

Some questions for you to answer:

Do you honestly believe it’s a good idea to ignore these emotions and feelings?

How’s this working for you so far? Has 2018 been a good year?

What impact is it having on your work, your relationship, friendships and family?

These aren’t the behaviours of a “manly gentleman” so I would conclude that if you want to make a positive change in your life, it’s time to be brave and open up. It’s about saying “actually I am struggling and I would like to address some of these issues as I am not coping as well as i’d like to”.

You are not a failure/unworthy/a loser/an idiot/disgusting/no good/worthless or any other labels you may use against yourself as you feel hopeless and helpless.

These are just some of the unhealthy irrational beliefs that could do with being examined with the help of a professionally trained therapist.

– Psychotherapy is about giving your mind the same attention you would give your body if you wanted to improve your muscle tone and fitness. Let’s just call it a “mind gym”

– It’s about opening up and sharing this stuff you’ve been carrying around and then feeling better for offloading it to someone who really listens and “gets it”.  You are not alone in feeling this way.

– It’s about being brave enough to look at these emotions in a helpful and supported manner rather than dismissing them and wondering why they aren’t going away on their own or keep popping back up.

– It’s about feeling safe, supported, understood and having the time to address your negative thoughts so you can finally seeing a positive outcome for your future.

If you want to have a brief chat about your situation, please get in contact with me after all 2019 is a new year and maybe, just maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Please do not suffer in silence – Call or text me on 07967 753460

Overcome Dental phobia with CBT.

Close shot of a person's mouth undergoing treatment at the dentistImage copyrightThinkstock

People with a dental phobia are more likely to undergo treatment without sedation if they have had Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), research suggests.

The research, published in the British Dental Journal, looked at 130 people who all feared dental treatment.

All had talking therapy, and more than three-quarters went on to have treatment without sedation.

The research was carried out by King’s College London.

Patients with a dental phobia are often sedated to allow them to become relaxed enough to have work done to their teeth.

‘Set goals’

Such individuals are also more likely to put off going to the dentist, and as a result experience more dental pain and have poorer oral health.

But getting sedated “does not help them to overcome their fear in the long term”, according to the author of the research, Prof Tim Newton.

“The primary goal of our CBT service is to enable patients to receive dental treatment without the need for sedation, by working with each individual patient to set goals according to their priorities,” he said.

The research looked at 99 women and 31 men who attended a therapy clinic at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.

Three-quarters of the group had a “dental phobia”, while the remainder had a specific fear of one aspect of dentistry, such as injections or the drill.

Of all the patients, four-fifths (79%) went on to have dental treatment without the need for sedation, while 6% had their dental treatment under sedation.

The average number of therapy appointments required before a patient received dental treatment without sedation was five.

“Our study shows that after on average five CBT sessions, most people can go on to be treated by the dentist without the need to be sedated,” Prof Newton said.

Dentist Ben Atkins told BBC News that during his 23-year career he had only ever referred two patients to have treatment under sedation.

“Personally I take it as a failure if I have to do that, because good dentistry should be all about communication with your patients and you should be able to talk any fears through,” he said.

“It’s about putting the patient in control. These days, dentistry should be 100% pain free.”

“The patients I have known who need sedation are sick at the very thought of dentistry and often won’t even show up, unless they’re desperate.”

Andy Parkin, 40, from Lancashire, said his phobia “started at a child and then got worse throughout my teenage years”.

“The first sign I realise I’m getting out of control is my palms start sweating while I’m still sitting in the waiting room,” he said.

“The key to overcoming it is talking things through and finding a dentist who is receptive and having an honest dialogue with him.”

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?

Generic shot of anonymous man on a couchImage copyrightThinkstock
  • based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle
  • aims to help you crack this cycle by breaking down overwhelming problems into smaller parts and showing you how to change these negative patterns to improve the way you feel

Source: NHS Choices

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