Lockdown 3.0 is likely to be affecting your wellbeing.
Throughout the last year there have been reports of children and adults experiencing increased levels of anxiety, so much so that doctors have warned of a growing ‘mental health pandemic’.
Something you might be struggling with is a sense of being overwhelmed.
Although the pandemic has done away with our social lives and contained our movements, for many this hasn’t resulted in having more time or energy.
If anything it’s seen people put pressure on themselves as home and work life merge, alongside other concerns like finance and health depending what challenges the pandemic has raised for individuals.
Priory psychotherapist Pamela Roberts says feeling overwhelmed is partly due to our natural response system to stressful occurrences.
‘We hear terms like “unprecedented”, and phrases like “out of control” and that evokes feelings of uncertainty and a sense of foreboding, and our reflex is kicked into play.
‘We might feel overwhelmed by a host of different things – financial worries, family issues, difficulties with work colleagues, losses and grief, cabin fever, loss of a lifestyle and of interests.’
Pamela believes things like doomscrolling are another route to easily becoming overwhelmed.
Sometimes people miss the signs that show they’re beginning to feel overwhelmed, which could damage their mental health if ignored.
Signs to look out for include:
- Feeling restless
- Becoming clumsy
- Being obsessive
- Feeling constantly fearful
- Feeling knots in your stomach
- Having negative thoughts about the future
- Feeling disassociated from reality
‘If we can identify this in ourselves, we can bring reason back on board.
‘Therapy is very useful for this, as are close friends or family members who can really listen to us and restore our mind to some kind of equilibrium,’ Pamela says.
If this sounds like something you’re experiencing, as well as therapy, Pamela says grounding techniques like mindfulness and breathing exercises can help.
These are her tips to help manage feeling overwhelmed.
Try these techniques to feel less overwhelmed
These types of exercises can change the pattern of your thinking and stop you going into ‘auto-pilot’ with negative thoughts.
- Practice being in the present: Stop and listen to what you can hear, and ‘stretch’ your hearing beyond that. Can you hear things like birds? Do the same with temperatures and textures. What can you feel around you that is hot, warm or cold, or soft or ruffled?
- Go to a happy place: Imagine things that mentally transport you to a different time, especially one that makes you happy or calm. It could be imagining something as simple as hot sand between your toes.
- Deep breathing: Breathe in and count to four. Hold your breath briefly and count to four again as you exhale slowly. Repeat six times.
- Find a calming distraction: Spend 10 minutes absorbed into an activity. It can be as simple as taking a shower, or getting a hot water bottle and wrapping yourself in a blanket.
- Cut out the ‘dead’ time: This is time spent needlessly scrolling on your phone, or eating or drinking alcohol mindlessly.
- Keep a journal: Write down your worries then list five things you are grateful for.
- Do something for you: Try something unrelated to what’s overwhelming you, such as joining a virtual club. It will connect you to likeminded people and engage your mind in an activity you don’t associate with worry.
- Reach out to people: Whether it’s calling a friend or The Samaritans for free on 116 123, tell someone how you’re feeling.
The reality as Pamela puts it is that ‘the pandemic is not de-escalating as we’d hoped,’ so it’s normal to for that to have some kind of negative impact on your mental health.
Speak to a health professional if you are struggling.
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