Since March 2020, the UK has been through a very difficult time as news of COVID19 broke out, and for many, lives have been changed forever.
It has taken everyone a huge amount of strength and resilience to manage through the initial lockdown. Everyone lives in different circumstances, some with family and others living alone. Some working as keyworkers, others furloughed or told to work from home. For each of us the lockdown presented different challenges, whether working from home, home-schooling or struggling with the feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Each time the lockdown eased, each one of us navigated our way through to the next lockdown. Feelings of fear were very strong, as the COVID19 outbreak continued to spread across communities. Feelings of loss felt by so many who had lost family, friends or loved ones to the virus. Feelings of uncertainty, about when we would be able to get back to some kind of normality, to return to work, to see our children return to school. A sense of being constantly 'out of control' not knowing what the next Government announcement and guidelines would be.
So what is Uncertainty?
So how does uncertainty affect our mental health?
Uncertainty brings with it so many other feelings, stress, anxiety, and powerlessness, feeling a complete lack of control. We, as humans need to feel secure at home, at work and in our relationships. Security is one of the foundations of all of our lives, something we all need to feel safe and to be able to to function. Not feeling safe brings with it additional emotional strain, constantly worrying about 'what if', and what's going to happen next'.
As we hear more news about the new variant 'Omicron', there are signs of increased concern and feelings of uncertainty, especially as we approach the Christmas period where so many have made plans to be with family and friends.
How can I assess how I am?
Using a scale of 1-10 can be useful to assess where you are currently.
1 - I am absolutely okay with anything that may happen, I am taking one day at a time and will cope with anything that the pandemic brings
10 - I am absolutely overwhelmed, feeling so frightened about the new variant and what is going to happen.
Recognising where we are on a scale and checking in regularly can really help us to identify our own mental health state, and to see how this is changing, or not over the course of a day, a week and over the months to come.
So what else can we do to manage our own feelings of uncertainty?
Recognising what you have already been through since March 2020, how you coped during the first lockdown, and what worked for you during this time.
Take notice of how you are feeling, using tools such as Moodmeter to record your mood throughout the day (downloadable app for phones).
Practice mindfulness, focusing on one day at a time. What do we know today, what facts are available to us today. Focus on the here and now and take one day at a time.
Working with a Counsellor can help you to reframe your thoughts, especially where you are experiencing heightened levels of fear, anxiety or uncertainty which can result in negative thinking.
Talking to others can help to normalise your feelings, and to explore ways others cope with the uncertain times we are all finding ourselves in.
Journalling, writing down thoughts, feelings and acknowledging your strengths is also useful.
Research practical advice which will help with any practical issues you are facing e.g. relating to financial, employment, housing or other similar personal issues.
Stay in control of your own decisions, get in touch with what feels right for you and only do what you feel comfortable with.
Minimise how much news and media you access. Limiting exposure to social media or online media news relating to the pandemic to a maximum of 20 minutes per day can help manage anxiety.
Uncertainty and change is something that we all have to face in our lives over time. The pandemic has meant that some changes have happened very suddenly, with lives being changed overnight. The world became very unpredictable. This can make us feel completely out of control, although we still have some control over so many aspects of our lives.
Writing down a list of things that are in your control can really help. For example if you have lost your job, you are in control of how many applications you submit, or how many people you network with using sites such as LinkedIn to help you find potential new contacts or employers. Other things you are in control of include; what you eat / drink, how much exercise you get, what time you go to bed and get up each day. Thinking about the things that will help you with your levels of anxiety or stress each day can bring back a sense of control.
Finally, try writing down a list of things in your control in each of the areas below;
- Social Life
- Health (physical and mental)
- Personal Growth (things we can do to better ourselves, learning new skills)
Additional resources can be found on our resources page;
If you would like to book some counselling if you are feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope please complete our self-referral form www.therapycentreservices.com/self-referral
We offer all new referrals an appointment within 24 hours.