There’s no getting away from it, we’re facing a lockdown (by another name), during the darkest and coldest months and I’m already missing my nearest and dearest

I was scrolling through my old photos on my phone this morning, for no other reason than to see some evidence of what it used to be like. Looking at all those photos of smiling friends and family, from across the years, all with crowds of people or very close contact has made me feel very nostalgic for simpler times. Times when we took it for granted that we could meet up with people, whenever and wherever we wanted to, without limits on numbers.

Times when we didn’t need to don a mask, we could rock up to any pub or restaurant without checking in, we didn’t need to leave the pub at 10pm or worry too much about whether our mate had been generous with their germs. I miss those times. It’s not that I don’t agree with what’s going on, I just miss that close contact with people. Yeah, me the raging introvert that doesn’t ‘do hugs’…

And let’s not forget that I don’t live on my own. I have someone here all of the time and I can get a hug, or a bit of attention when I need it. But, if I’m feeling it, what about you out there in cyber-space, that are living on your own, struggling with feelings of isolation and loneliness, or just trying to deal with the day to day struggles of how you’re going to be able to cope and make ends meet for the next six plus months? I mean fuck, that’s a scary set of circumstances!!     

Which is why I want to talk about how we can all make sure we get through this, regardless of what we’re struggling with, me need to make sure we’re all here and accounted for come the Spring. That’s not to say I know this thing is going to end in the Spring, just that everything feels more bearable when the days lengthen and we know Summer is knocking at the door.

This isn’t going to be a list of ‘do’s and don’t’s’. Putting it bluntly none of us need to have any more rules thrust at us do we? Instead these are suggestions for thinking about how you can support yourself during this time.

Physical contact

Touch starvation is a very real thing. We’re hard wired to want and need physical contact from the time we’re born and without it we can struggle with depression, anxiety and sleeplessness*. Hugging, touching a shoulder, leaning on someone, we used to do all the time without thinking, but now we’re facing a reality where we’re simply not allowed to have even the smallest physical contact with people.

One way to counteract this is to have a massage (while it’s still possible to have one at the moment), but longer term it’s about managing how you deal with this. Moving your body and getting outside can help with this, as it grounds us. You can even massage yourself, just to replicate that touch on your skin, or if that’s a bit cringe, dance like no-one’s watching to something that gets you moving and you feel into your body.

But perhaps best of all, is to make sure you keep in touch with friends and family. The people that you care about might not be able to touch you physically, but they can make you feel loved and valued. They can reminisce with you and give you hope for better times ahead.   

Mental stimulation

This can be the toughest to do, when you’re feeling low, lonely or anxious. How do you get engaged with this when the brain is telling your body that it has nothing to give? Yeah, I know I’ve been there and it’s hard to want to do anything at all, especially when it’s cold outside.

Start simple – are you a visual or a kinaesthetic (you like doing) person? Then get outside. Wrap up warm, get moving and drink in the sky, feel the wind or the rain on your face and get moving. If you’re visual, take photos of what you find interesting or visually pleasing.

If you’re someone who focuses on listening then what is it that pleases you to listen to? For me, it can be music, but if I’m struggling to focus or to sleep I listen to ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) videos on YouTube. They are basically videos to help you relax and provide ‘tingles’ (of the non-sexual variety), to help people sleep. It can cover anything from page flipping, painting, colouring in…whatever tingles your tingly boat.

Emotional support

As I said on Monday, as a raging introvert, the easiest thing for me is to shut myself away when I’m struggling. I can easily shut myself away, but then the tougher bit is asking for help, when I realise I’ve been a bit too reclusive. But, people that are on the opposite scale to me, as extroverts, this type of climate at the moment is tough too!

Doesn’t matter what type of person you are, don’t beat yourself up for just doing what comes natural, but do make sure you’re checking in with the people you care about, even if it’s just a WhatsApp chat. I know we’re all Zoom’d out, but park that as much as you can and get involved with virtual meet ups, whether that’s a club, a meet up, a group of friends or family. Whatever, to get some quality connections with other people. 

As I mentioned yesterday, all of us on the Full Stop podcast are worried about our community, which is why we’re opening up every Saturday morning at 10am for a virtual chat over a coffee (or something stronger depending on what time zone you’re in).

And obviously, if you need something more meaningful to help you with any mental health challenges you might be facing, then it might be time to get some counselling. If this is you, then you know how to get in touch with me or pop on to Gateway Women to see a listing of other mental health professionals that can help you.  

And if you want to ask for help after reading this then perhaps it’s time to ask for some help from a counsellor. You know where I am if you need me x

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