Over recent weeks, lockdown restrictions have been cautiously lifted by the government. Life for us all is changing again as we are able to take up more activities, visit more places, see friends and family and perhaps return to work. This is a huge change to the lives we were asked to lead back in March when we were all asked to stay at home, to protect the NHS and to save lives. The message then was clear, as was the aim – to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Compliance with this message was high both here in Doncaster and across the UK as a whole. This took an enormous sacrifice for everyone but we all pulled together, supporting each other in so many ways.
The restrictions are being lifted as the number of coronavirus cases reduces and this in itself has produced a mixture of feelings for many people, ranging from relief and excitement to anxiety and stress. This is an understandable reaction as it is unsettling and we find change difficult as human beings. We have got so used to life in lockdown, however hard that may have been, that the new freedoms now available to us almost seem strange and can make us feel cautious.
The mental health charity MIND carried out a survey recently and found that over half of adults and over two thirds of young people said that their mental health had got worse during lockdown. Loneliness, not being able to go outside and restrictions on seeing people all impacted on our mental health. But that doesn’t mean that now restrictions are being lifted, we will automatically feel better and happier. As a GP, I am seeing more people struggling with their mental health as they try to adjust to a new world with new rules.
Looking after our mental health is always important but even more so as we move through this next phase of the pandemic and recovery. Worries about the changing situation can affect anyone, young or old, in different ways.
There are many positive things we can do though to stay as physically and mentally well as possible. I am passionate about promoting good mental health and so want to take this opportunity to raise awareness that there is support available for everyone.
Here are some useful tips to help you manage post-lockdown anxiety:
- Practise self-awareness and compassion – be kind to yourself
- Speak to someone you trust – share your fears and concerns
- Plan ahead – think about situations which make you anxious and what you can do to make the situation easier
- Read trustworthy, reliable information – guidance is constantly changing so use reliable sources of information and keep up to-date with the latest guidance on coronavirus at gov.uk
- Look after your physical and mental wellbeing – take care of your physical health to help you cope with stressful situations
- Focus on the positives – take pleasure from the small things you can enjoy again such as a socially-distanced garden visit to a friend or family member
I would like to encourage anyone who has become stressed, anxious or worried about their mood or mental health to seek help. There are many sources of support and advice available, so please don’t worry alone or feel that you can’t cope. Please seek help early. There is plenty of advice and information at our fingertips and there is professional help available in Doncaster to ensure you get the support you need.
It really does help to talk and to share your concerns and worries. So please step forward and access the support you need so you feel better in yourself. Everyone deserves to feel good.
I have included a few resources here which provide advice, information and support.
NHS Every Mind Matters: 10 tips to help if you are worried about coronavirus
The Samaritans: Coronavirus resources
National Domestic Violence Helpline: You are not alone
For young people:
Young Minds: Coming out of lockdown
Childline: Help if you’re worried
For older people:
Silverline: free confidential helpline
Age UK: Coronavirus guidance