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Stress Awareness Month – Stresses Around A New ‘normal’ After COVID

Stress Awareness Month – stresses around a new ‘normal’ after COVID

Struggling with stress and anxiety

I have always struggled with stress and anxiety; they might stem from external stimuli but generally my mind is pretty good at making them bigger then seem. Making it so it’s hard to get stuff done or think about anything else. Then came along COVID, and the ‘unprecedented times’ we are in. It might be a stressor that we are all going through but people are responding in so many different ways and have their own fears and anxieties.

Being around people again

It feels like so many people are talking about the excitement of reducing restrictions and how things will get better as we begin to return to some kind of ‘normal’ that they forget the anxious people like me. The people who are filled with fear at going back to situations I found difficult pre-Covid. Situations like meeting new people which have always been difficult now seem impossible when I have barely been in the same room as anyone other than close family for a year. I keep wondering, how did I do this all the time? Because anxiety feeds off avoidance, or in the COVID case not doing these situations because of a global pandemic! This left my anxiety to grow in the absence of facing these fears and I’m stressed about going back to normal.

Logically, in reality I am not saying I prefer doing work at home then at school or work, but right now it feels like that. I’ve adapted to working at home and having to change again is bringing me a great deal of stress, because I am now no longer sure how I will work in school or work environment, having not done it for so long.

Vaccine worries

This was true when I left the house to get my vaccination, not just because of the vaccine itself, but the whole set up was new. Things outside of our control are often stressors. It’s hard to go into situations where you are not sure what to expect and getting the vaccine felt like the ultimation of all of this plus a needle. The vaccine has been held up as the light at the end of the tunnel, but the prospect of being vaccinated can bring a lot of stress to many people, including me, especially when two doses mean going through the whole thing twice.

Making sense of COVID

It’s also hard to know how to deal with the stress of the virus itself, and the risks that it now has. I keep asking people, is it okay now? With positive steps forward with vaccines and a lower R numbers we can start to see beyond the pandemic, but I keep wondering what will happen next: will we just learn to live with COVID to a certain extent? I can no longer tell what a ‘normal’ amount of concern is over keeping safe from the virus and what is going into unnecessary stress. Put simply I still don’t know how to make sense of covid as I contemplate my life going forward.

Express your anxiety

To all the people who are anxious about the way forward, about things changing again even if that is towards a more ‘normal’ routine, you are valued and seen. For me, it’s been important to get these thoughts out and express them. I think often we can find it hard to express things if we feel mixed about events. Maybe we are not sure quite what we feel or what we’re anxious or stressed about and why, but don’t let this stop you! Express all of this in its messy completeness. You could express this through talking to your family or friends. If you find it helpful to think things through, perhaps write down your thoughts in a free writing session. If writing feels difficult you could try drawing or scribbling or using colours to describe and express how you are feeling.

Just let everything out. It can also help to be aware of all the different feeling words there are to describe our emotions and get specific! Check out this pdf of feeling words,  because sometimes words like fear or anxiety don’t cut it, or don’t quite sum up something. Be open to exploring exactly what is going on for you and new ways to express it.

Thank you to Dorset Mind Your Head volunteer Alice for this heartfelt blog.

Where you can go for help

Dorset Mind Your Head offer support groups

These give a safe environment to talk through your anxieties. We deliver support groups for 2 age brackets: 11 to 13 yrs and 14 to 18 yrs.  Sessions are informal and allow you to explore issues in a supportive, non-judgemental environment. There will be a maximum of 12 young people in the group at one time.

Our facilitators will guide, listen and support as you build new emotional skills and connect with others. They will help you on your journey towards living life mentally healthy.

 

Untapped – If you want help expressing yourself through art you could try art therapy.

Art Psychotherapy (Art Therapy) is the process of creating art with the guidance and support of a professional art therapist. Through the process of making art, clients are able to explore their inner world, develop greater self-awareness, express thoughts and feelings, access creativity and self-esteem, and better cope with stress.

Untapped offer private individual sessions, online group sessions, and regularly fundraise to provide free sessions for vulnerable individuals and groups.

Steps 2 Wellbeing

This is a free local NHS service that is confidential, people aged 18+. They provide psychological support across Dorset and Southampton for people registered at either a Dorset or Southampton GP surgery. As an IAPT service (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies), they accept self-referrals online and by telephone.

For more information on anxiety and stress you can visit these national charities.

Anxiety Care UK

Helps people to recover from anxiety disorders.

Anxiety UK

Advice and support for people living with anxiety, stress and anxiety-based depression. It has an infoline, text service and digital online therapy service (subscription required).

 

 

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