In a time of crisis…

As I write this, we are in the middle of a pandemic.  Coronavirus has swept the world in less than a month.  We are suddenly facing limitations and restrictions that I have never seen in my lifetime.

In our world of 24 hours rolling news and social media platforms, the access to information is unfathnable.  Whilst this access to information for the masses has many fabulous opportunities and applications, it is now tinged with poorly resourced information, biased opinion and half heard research.  Information these days seems to be like japanese whispers, that old game where one thing is whispered to someone and then passed on to someone else, somewhere down the line the original whisper had changed dramatically.

In the uk, the goverment has announced that schools will close except for the children of front line workers, the entertainment industry has stopped, services are being reduced, large social, events including sports events have been postponed or cancelled this year.

I am both saddened and overwhelmed by the reactions and responses by people at this time.  Whilst I’m hearing about panic buying of food, sanitiser and toilet rolls?  (Really struggling to understand the toilet roll thing…)  It seems that the lack of consideration for other people is incredible, and yet, if you search, if you look, you hear amazing wonderful stories of community spirit and kindness.

Year 5 pupils in a primary school wrote notes and letters in class which they then randomly posted through letterboxes in their community, one card stating “We wanted to spread kindness and not coronavirus”, countless community facebook groups offering to pick up shopping, take people to appointments.  People are posting slips of paper through doors offering to help in their local area.  In light of school closures, a local garage owner is offering to help out with food for children on free school meals and anything else he can do to help.  Stories of spaniards exercising together on rooftops and wonderful stories such as a the world harmony orchestra going round to people who have to self isolate and playing music to them outside their door, and the incredible stories of residents in Italy singing from their balconies.  We can choose to look at the world in a different way, we can be consumed by the fear, the anxiety and the pain of this situation, or we can look forward, reach out and build hope and community.

Whilst the fear and the anxiety is real, it is important we continue to look after ourselves and our mental health.  Self isolation is the reccomendation if people find themselves with the symptoms associated with Coronavirus, which you can read more about here.  It is not sure how long this pandemic will last, as the entertainments industry, cinemas close and people find themselves in restricted environments, the concern about wellbeing becomes more and more apparent.

Taking time to reflect on how your feeling, how your mood and anxiety might be impacting on our nearest and dearest is important.  As we begin to adjust to the various changes to routine and expecations not faced before become placed on families, I wonder how this will impact relationships and families.  So looking at what people can do to lessen the anxieties and improve wellbeing are important factors to focus on.

  • Reducing the amount of time we spend on social media.  This will help avoid snippets of news that is promoting worry and anxiety.
  • Following the five ways to wellbeing will help promote physical activity, mindfullness, improve emotional intelligence and improve your psychological wellbeing through simple changes to your routine that will help distract from the situation.
  • Whilst working from home, don’t forget to break, take yourself off for a wellbeing walk.
  • Speak to your friends and colleagues, remember that self isolation can be lonely for you, and for others.  So reach out and connect to others.

This might be a scary uncharted time for people.  Alot of counselling is moving online or going via telephone.  As this situation deepens peoples lives are going to change, for some it will be slight adjustment, for some it will be a major change.  Remembering to reach out to others and offer to help.  In times of stress, people cope differently, some with anxiety and some verging on apathy, here is some information about coping with levels of stress from the CDC.

As for myself, I’m going to carry on, I’m going to work, go to my allotment, take my dog for a walk, spend time with my family, watch movies, read, and laugh.  I’m going to laugh, and watch comedy and listen to podcasts and laugh.  Because humour to me is therapeutic, it affords me a window to look at the rediculous and gives me a perspective.  This world we are now in might not be like anything we’ve experienced before, but everything that happened to me before was something new before I experienced it, I’d never been married at some point, or had never been a parent.  There were so many things that I’d never experienced until I did.  Some of them were worrying, scary and life threatening.  Yet here I am, intact, sat at my laptop writing them down.

This too shall pass.

Sincerely Yours

A Thirsk Counsellor