Updated: Nov 17, 2021
Pre COVID and the first UK Lockdown I found myself in an abyss of stress. I was experiencing stress at home to the point I was discussing divorce and dividing up assets. I was also experiencing stress at work with new changes and understaffing issues. I booked a doctor’s appointment and asked the doctor to increase my medication I had been on for thirteen years for depression and anxiety. My medication was changed, and I suffered adverse reactions resulting in more issues. So, I decided to transition back to my old medication, starting back on the lowest dose. My husband responded ‘there’s the woman I married’. At this point I decided to cease medicinal support completely.
For the first time in a long time I began to feel. Not just feel the stress, depression and anxiety I suffered, but also the positive emotions such as joy and excitement. I not only felt, but I felt like someone different. It turned out the entire time I was on the medication, I had been oblivious to my circumstances. I had established some self-care strategies that I realised I needed to expand upon in order to survive. Then COVID and lockdown one hit!
I had been delivering Cognitive Behavioural Therapy based programmes and self-care strategies for six years, so I knew what they were and how to use them.
I have always found the most beneficial deep breathing. It is something so simple you can do anywhere at any time and no one even knows you are practising it. It is basically deep breathing through your stomach as opposed to your chest and focus on exhaling for longer. This will focus your mind on your breath and distract it from negative thoughts that may elevate your emotions. It also regulates the breathing and heart rate and I have used this to evade panic attacks.
I also rely heavily on exercise as a way to start my day, be it cardio, weights, pilates or yoga. I find this supports me by burning off any existing anxious energy. It’s also good for waking me up. Plus, the routine of exercising is beneficial for motivating myself to be productive during the day. Routine I find for myself is also an essential strategy for my self-care.
In addition, I practice mindfulness. Again, something so simple that can be practised anywhere at any time. Simply focus on something in detail engaging all the senses. This can be anything, internal or external, depending on where you are and what you are doing. It can be focusing internally on that breathing in immense detail. It could also be focusing on something external such as the sights, smells, sounds, tastes and climate of a Spring Day.
Getting started with routines and strategies such as these may seem daunting at first, but once practised like any skill it will become like second nature. Tools in your arsenal should you need it.
For everyone self-care strategies will vary. What works for one of us will not necessarily work for the other. It is about finding out what works for you.
These are troubling times, but they will pass. I believe if I can support myself through this crisis anyone can. If you need support to do so, reach out. Please feel free to message me if you require any support.