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How to stay calm during these chaotic times…

Post lockdown: how safe are we and what should we do…?

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These are questions at the top of nearly everyone’s minds.

For some people, the easing of lockdown is going to be welcome – they can socialise and part take in activities of real value.  But for many, it brings a sense of dread and a real challenge to mental health.  The continuing debate/disagreements between scientists, politicians and psychologists, has the public stunned at best and terrified at worst.  Add to this the obsession with the topic and incessant discussion amongst family and friends, is it any wonder we all feel desperately frightened and challenged?

Let’s look at the facts:

Uncertainty: NOBODY knows exactly how this virus works or how it can be contained. We only partly know how it is working right now, but as it is a virus, it is mutating all the time – we are trapped in quick sand. Sir Patrick Valance, our Chief Scientific Officer said  in March (and not much has changed since), ‘Because this is a novel disease, our learning is evolving all the time’ and Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer adds ‘you are dealing with uncertainty’. Additionally, we are all unique so no 2 people will react in exactly the same to the infection.  We can set up generic controls based on the general behaviour of the virus but each one of us can potentially have a different response, as Dr Mike Hansen So, let us accept that uncertainty is here to stay for the timebeing.

Culture: Other countries who have been more successful in containing the virus have different political, sociological and cultural setups. As reported in the Lancet, China has put forward extremely strict state run measures in place and therefore been more successful in controlling the spread of the virus.  The SARs epidemic in the past has also given China  experience in this field and therefore a head start. For example, drones equipped with echoing loudspeakers rebuked Chinese citizens who were not following the rules: “Yes Auntie, this drone is talking to you”, one device proclaimed to a surprised woman in Inner Mongolia – how would we feel if this was done here in the UK? There would be uproar….

Mismanagement: The UK has been complacent and irresponsible from the start: we were told masks were useless by our esteemed PM in March but are now a necessity; the pathetic fiasco with PPE cost untold lives and helped the virus to spread, and the utter failure of the test and track programme, are just a few areas in which our government has failed in its duty. South Korea on the other hand has been a leader with its expansive and well designed test and track programme 

Instant ‘cure’: We are looking for a magic bullet – there isn’t one. If the vaccines developed in such a short period of time are so effective, why do other vaccines take such a long time to hit the market place?  What is being compromised?  I understand that billions of pounds have been provided for this vaccine to be created but one gift no one has to give is time…time to see the effectiveness and equally important, time to see what the after effects are.  So how confident are we going to be to receive this vaccine when it does become available?  Additionally, vaccination is not a guarantee against getting infected, it is a safety tool to be used for vulnerable people and those with serious underlying health concerns – it is worth being realistic about outcomes.  Our immune system is beautifully highly complex system and the way the Oxford vaccine is working is puzzling scientists. The closest comparison we can make is with the flu vaccine.

Personal responsibility: We habitually expect someone else to be responsible for our Wellbeing. Why can’t the supermarkets reduce the number of highly processed foods? Why are there so many fast food outlets strategically placed to catch our eye? Why isn’t more money being plunged into the NHS?  Ok, the last one has many ramifications but you get the gist, right? Here is a spoiler: we and ONLY we are responsible for our Wellbeing.  We don’t have to buy processed or fast food, we can cook from scratch.  We don’t have to eat fast food 5/week and we can take better care of ourselves so that we don’t need to visit the GP or go to the hospital frequently.  Before you get angry, I am not talking about getting seriously ill, or having an accident or taking elderly aunt Maude to hospital because she has had a fall. There is so much self help information available for FREE to allow us to take better care of ourselves and take back control.  Isn’t it time then to do just that?

So here are 5 tips on taking back control:

Overwhelm: Reduce time spent reading up about Coronavirus – the important stuff will filter through, you don’t have to worry about FOMO. Listen to a short bulletin daily but try not to do this just before bedtime, or else you may struggle with sleep

Plan how your life is going to be after the lockdown as the rules & infection rates stand right now. Breath as you do this exercise, stay in touch with your feelings.

If you find this overwhelming, below are 3 activities you could try:

  • Listen to some upbeat music and dance with free abandon really shaking your body out – this will discharge the negative energy of your anxiety
  • Stand barefoot on grass, even if it is raining – this helps to discharge the negative energy into the earth’s energy field and the water on the body really will shock and ‘cleanse’ you
  • Sit in a quiet place and do some meditation

Personal hygiene: do the best you can to remain safe by buy wearing cloth masks, washing hands frequently and maintaining safe distance wherever possible

Boundaries: Be strong and assertive. Don’t be overtly concerned about upsetting people by saying no e.g. when organising Christmas, you are perfectly entitled to protect your family by declining an invitation to Uncle Ted’s Big Turkey Family Lunch

Gratitude & Service: 2020 has been a devastating year for so many who have lost loved ones to the pandemic. There will be many empty places and unopened presents this year.  When it all gets too much and we are taken over with self pity and anxiety, let’s stop and thank the Universe for what we have.  Let’s bring these unfortunate people into our prayers and send them love.  The agony of saying an untimely good bye to a dear one is traumatic and that pain lingers on for years.  Let’s reach out and embrace them so they know they may have lost 1 person, but there are lots still here to help them through…

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