Just when we thought it was nearly all over, we are shunted back into lockdown once again. So to help coax you through the current situation, we asked leading Phsychotherpaist Anna Mathur her tips for avoiding a lockdown melt down.
December 2 was meant to mark freedom, but as the date crept closer, alongside it came the gloomy news of a very restricted, tiered lifestyle system and a very pared-back Christmas. And now, a few weeks later, we’re shunted back into lockdown for the third time in less than a year. “The things that we’re normally looking forward to and the way we usually do things is being challenged,” Anna explains. “It’s really helpful to remind ourselves that as humans we thrive on predictability and routine and familiarity, and whilst we love adventure – we do benefit from having a bit of unfamiliarity in our lives – it’s the predictability and the routine that grounds us.”
Thanks to Covid, we’ve had not enough travel and adventure, and either too much or too little routine – we can’t quite decide. The point is, “we’ve not had enough difference”. And “while we’ve had our need for predictability and routine met by the clarity of the rules that come with lockdown, and I think now, looking ahead, and having that changing again, people are understandably feeling destabilised. It goes against our human nature to be lumped with another load of uncertainty,” Anna explains.
With dreary mornings, dark afternoons and general Covid-fatigue combined with our multi-tasking, always-connected lives, how should we cope better? Can we dig deep and find more positivity?
Here Anna Mathur shares her tips on dealing with uncertainty, and tells us it is perfectly normal to feel stress and joy at the same time.
1. Find Your Pocket of Predictability
“Knowing the things that ground you amidst the uncertainty, and acknowledging the things that makes you feel safe and secure is key. When the general routine is being shifted, find the part of your own personal routine can you keep, and make sure you prioritsie it. It could be exercise, or meditation, or scheduling chats with friends on certain days of the week – so that they’re actually there and we don’t just presume they’ll happen – keeping a semblance of routine is important.”
2. Don’t Worry About Crossing That Bridge
“One of my favourite mantras throughout this pandemic has been, ‘I will cross that bridge if I get to it’. There’s no point in trying to prepare for something that might never happen. You’ll only end up dragging your heart through the ringer twice, instead of once. Make a plan and tuck it away, whether that’s childcare provisions for work, or otherwise, there’s no point in continually playing it over in your mind.”
3. Get Up And Get Dressed.
“Acknowledge that there is a child-like side of you that wants to roll over in bed, stay in your pyjamas, watch Netflix and drink tea, but that there’s an adult there that is also urging you to get up and get in the shower. When you haven’t had the accountability for those simple actions in your normal life, the line end up blurred. It can chip away at your sense of purpose when you’re not living with a sense of routine and accountability. Know what’s good for you, really think about what makes you feel better, and try to reengage. Coach yourself. Know your self-worth and treat yourself with respect.”
4. Make A List That You’re Not Afraid Of
“The sense of achievement when ticking something off a list is so good for our mental health. Often when we see a list in its entirety, it seems so big and so long, but it’s just about breaking things down. As the saying goes – If someone says the little things don’t matter, they’ve never seen a match start a wildfire. Actually it is the little implementable things that make a difference. Take it step by step don’t try and climb the whole mountain in one go.”
5. Remember, It’s Really Good To Talk
“Keep speaking to people. That’s really important. They might not be able to get you your job back, or unfurlough you, but its productive to chat things through so that they’re heard and validated by someone else. I think what often happens if we can’t have what we need is we just throw the baby out with the bathwater – we think what’s the point. We push it all aside but actually conversations help. Keep in contact with people, even if it’s not in the way that you’re yearning for, it’s so important to keep those points of contact.”
Anna Mathur is a Psychotherapist, writer and speaker. She runs regular Mental Health lives on Instagram – @annamathur – as well as a twice-weekly podcast called The Therapy Edit. She also runs virtual courses on topics like ‘Reframing Anxiety’ and ‘People Pleasing’.