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July 19th Freedom day…….but for who?

Clubbing, 2bat1 Hypnotherapy, Wymondham, Norfolk

With the lifting of most coronavirus restrictions in England, on July 19th 2021 life is supposed to return to normal, or as normal as it can do considering we’re still in the midst of a global pandemic. Anyway, don’t you worry about that, if you've been working at home go back to your place of work....but gradually.... You don’t have to socially distance anymore, but try not to get close to those who aren’t in your household. You don’t have to wear a face mask, but you really should in crowded places. You can meet up with your mates but wherever possible do it outside.

Good, I’m glad that’s cleared everything up and we can all carry on our lives as usual.

Now don’t get me wrong, I personally feel it’s essential to take our time returning to a supposed normality and I know I’m not the only one who thinks this. In fact, a recent survey showed over two thirds of people in the UK thought some form of restriction should remain in place after July 19th.
You have to ask the question, is it any wonder people are feeling confused, anxious and fearful when Freedom Day was originally advertised as a day for mass celebration? Ok, so there were some with a carefree exuberance who managed to celebrate by staying up to queue to get into a nightclub which opened at 12.01am on a Monday morning. They were obviously working from home that day. For others it’s just another day. Some however, will be suffering from increased levels of anxiety caused by the very act of lifting restrictions I’ve listed above.

There is good news however, medical research suggests those suffering from coronavirus anxiety will continue to put safety first and adapt a cautious approach helping reduce virus spread. Hmmm I not sure that’s any consolation.

With Coronavirus anxiety and indeed any form of anxiety, it’s really important to appreciate that you are not helpless. There are many small things you can do to help guide you through those anxious times and feelings. Here’s a few to consider.

Focus on the things you can control

Accept the fact that many will be behave in a different way to you. Pay attention to the things you can control, such as continuing to take steps to reduce your own personal risks. If it feels safer for you to wear a mask in a shop when you don’t have to, then wear it! You’ll actually be helping others too which brings its own reward.

Stop the what if’s
Pay attention to the questions you know the answers to. The strategy of focusing attention on things we don’t know will only lead to feelings of being overwhelmed and anxiety.
It’s perfectly natural to worry about something that may happen, on occasions it helps us to plan for future events or scenarios. However, recognise when it becomes an obsession. If necessary, write a list of all the possible solutions to what you’re concerned about and focus your attention on the things you can change, rather than those beyond your control. If you double check your list there will probably only be a couple of things in your control, which you can plan for. Once done, you can then put your list to one side safe in the knowledge you’ve done everything you can.

Stay in touch
The ability to virtually connect to people far and wide has been a life saver for many during the pandemic. It’s not always going to be possible to see people face to face so why stop with the virtual hellos? One important point to note is whist its always great to have a sympathetic ear or someone you can sound off to, be careful who you chose. Turn to those people in your life who are calm, level-headed and good listeners as those who tend to be negative will only help to fortify the negative feelings you may be experiencing yourself. Sometimes speaking to someone who doesn’t know you at all and who can give a completely impartial point of view can feel like a breath of fresh air.

Look after yourself
Many of us are more than familiar with the local streets, parks and open spaces having walked them many a time over the past 18 months. This exercise doesn’t have to stop. In addition to perhaps your normal classes or sporting activities continue with the walks, perhaps local and further afield. Fresh air and sunshine and the very act of being out in nature can help to make us feel good.

Do the things you enjoy doing
It can be hard when we’re not feeling at our best to have the motivation to do the things that bring us pleasure. Yet, this is exactly what we should be doing to help lift our spirits and help change our negative thought processes. So walk those beaches, splash those puddles, read that book or watch that comedy film. The very thought may be hard to start off with but rewards can by instant.

Recognise you are far from being alone with your struggles. Understand that many others are struggling in the same way as you and many many more are on their way or are feeling massively improved. Very little in this world is permanent, dare I say it even coronavirus. Things change and so will you.

Be present
As I mentioned earlier in this article, it’s very easy to become caught up in what happened yesterday and what you think may happen in the future. The past can help us learn from experience, and the future help us plan, but that doesn’t mean to say we need to live in either tense. If you find yourself overthinking anchor yourself into the present moment. Meditation is a great way to achieve this and can help to restore a sense of balance. Little and often is a good way to start so why not give this simple 6 minute breathing exercise a go.

I really hope you ‘ve found some of my tips useful. If you do need help or advice dealing with anxiety please don’t hesitate to contact me. Wishing you all well, Paul.