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Building your resilience as lockdown restrictions tighten

Specialist Nurse Adviser for Mental Health, Bupa UK
23 September 2020

Coronavirus infections are rising. This means that some lockdown restrictions are tightening again to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Understandably, this raises levels of worry, concern and anxiety for ourselves and our loved ones. So at a time of more difficulty, resilience – your ability to deal with and respond to challenging times – is going to be key. You’ve no doubt developed helpful strategies over the last six months which you can return to and build upon.

I hope this article can give you some tools and tips to help boost your resilience and to look after your wellbeing during this time.

It’s ok to have feelings

Whatever you’re feeling, know that it’s ok to feel that way. After six months of coping with the pandemic it’s understandable to feel a variety of emotions, be that frustration, fear, sadness or tiredness. But also know that you’re more resilient than you may think.

Remember your past resilience

Over the last six months you’ve adapted and coped with the pandemic in a huge variety of ways – how you work, shop, cook, socialise – don’t forget that. Human beings are very adaptable. Try and think of this as a new phase of adaptation and remind yourself of how well you’ve coped so far.

Stay connected with others

Keep talking to your family and friends about how you’re feeling. It’s likely that they share some of the same worries you have, and it can help to talk things through together. Check in on others – this can help you feel connected and purposeful. And ask for support at work if you need to as well. If you’re worried about your mental health, make a phone appointment with your GP.

Look after your physical health

Do everything you can to look after your sleep, diet and exercise. Taking care of yourself – even in small ways – can really help. For example, going for a walk each day can help reduce stress levels. Try and go somewhere in nature if you can and pay attention to what you can see and hear.

Try relaxation techniques

Make a list of the activities that you know help you relax and allocate time in your day to do them. This might be having a bubble bath, spending time on a hobby, reading, listening to music, cooking, or a few minutes just sitting and breathing with your eyes closed. Carving out space to take a step back from stress can help you feel calmer and ready to move forward again.

Take a tech break

The news can be overwhelming and accelerate feelings of anxiety. Take some time away from your phone or the TV. Check the news once a day but try not to keep looking at it if it’s adding to your worry levels. Turn your phone off for an hour or choose to spend an evening not watching the TV and doing something else to relax instead.

Reduce the risk of spreading the virus

Wear a face covering, wash your hands, and keep your distance from others. If you’re able to, work from home.

If you have symptoms or have returned from certain countries abroad – follow the rules and isolate.

Give yourself a break

Keeping yourself and your family going and looking after each other is what’s important right now. So don’t feel down on yourself if you’re not achieving big goals at the moment. Take the pressure off yourself and acknowledge that you’re doing the best you can in a difficult situation.

Be kind to yourself

Remember, to be patient and kind to yourself. Reward yourself for small achievements, nourish your mind and body with healthy activities, spend time in nature and give yourself permission to recharge when you need to.

Caroline Harper
Specialist Nurse Adviser for Mental Health, Bupa UK

    • How to manage stress. Developing resilience. Mind. www.mind.org.uk, published November 2017
    • Coronavirus outbreaks FAQS: what you can and cannot do. GOV UK. www.gov.uk, updated 14 September 2020
    • Stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. GOV UK. www.gov.uk, updated 20 September 2020
    • Travel advice: coronavirus (COVID-19). Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office. www.gov.uk, last updated 18 September

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