How to Cope with Lockdown and Social Isolation… Your guess is as good as mine.

How to Cope with Lockdown and Social Isolation… Your guess is as good as mine.

I struggled to come up with an idea for this month’s blog. There seemed to be an endless supply of “how to survive lockdown’ advice available. 

Well, firstly, as a Solution Focused practitioner, my ethos is definitely not about giving advice. Secondly, on a personal level, I found most of it irritating (social media noise that I really didn’t want to be involved in) and thirdly, ‘How would I know how to survive lockdown?!’ I’ve never done this before either, this is my very first pandemic and I’m swimming the same choppy waters as everyone else.

So, I had a word with myself!

This month’s blog is an honest transcript of my spending a little while, talking to myself (well aren’t we all at the moment?!) and asking, “What would I say to myself, if I were my own client?”

It was helpful for me, and I hope it will be helpful to you too because Solution Focused work has faith in the client, the client is always a capable human who is able to come up with what they need.

What’s been better? (since you last wrote a blog)

Sleep: I’m starting to sleep much better, getting around 8hrs every night, and at a time that suits me.

And what difference has that made?

Normally I set an alarm clock and get up uncomfortably early to start work at the hospital. I've never really got used to it, even though I've been doing it a long time, this jarring start to some of my days has always been difficult unpleasant. With all the changes Covid-19 has required, I've ended up doing shifts that start, and end, later, and I can feel a difference. Being able to sleep in a pattern that suits me (usually 11/11.30 – 7/7.30) and wake up in my own time every day has been an eye opener. I knew, intellectually, that the last hour or so of sleep is really important and that we often get our last burst of REM sleep in that time. I also knew that REM sleep is vital in processing emotions but I have been surprised by the difference. Even in emotionally challenging times, I have begun to notice that I have felt so much more ‘even’, much calmer, a feeling that I’m just generally able to cope.

And how have you noticed that you’ve been ‘generally able to cope?’

Well don’t get me wrong, having some learning and experience in the anxiety and stress reduction business certainly doesn’t make me immune. I’m not exactly floating along in a bubble of enlightenment here!

I’ve felt pretty abandoned by my partner who is self-isolating at his house, I’ve had panicky moments about how I’m going to manage, what will happen to my business, how I’m going to pay the bills, how I’m going to make sure my kids are ok? But, they’ve been moments, I haven’t stayed there. Specifically, I guess I’ve been able to pause and think and come up with useful ideas that have given me back a sense of control. I’ve sorted out my bank accounts, I’ve kept in contact with my colleagues and have a rota at work that is manageable with looking after my kids, I’ve maintained a good relationship, and shared fears and parenting responsibilities with my ex-husband. Oh, and I remembered that 10 minutes yoga in the mornings always makes me feel better (funny what you forget when life gets stressful!)

So even in difficult, stressful times you’ve been able to come up with useful actions. How have you managed that?

I’ve given myself time, I haven’t rushed and made panicky decisions just to distract myself. I haven’t 'scrabbled' for answers or opportunities.

‘Given yourself time’ sounds interesting. How, specifically, have you done that?

Well I suppose that’s been one of the changes I’ve found hard with lockdown. I’m normally pretty energetic, very sociable, and, if I’m honest, I’ll look for the next exciting thing to do, and launch myself into it, often to distract myself from, well, anything that feels difficult or boring I guess!  Being forced to stop a lot of activity was initially something I found really hard. I was properly in my ‘primitive brain’… you know, the stroppy 3-5yr old bit that just wants what it wants. But I was very aware of it, and I treated myself a bit kindly. I watched stuff on TV that wasn’t too challenging, I took the dog for gentle stroll round the block, I ate biscuits, I gave up on ideas of ‘productivity’. In-fact other than going to work, doing the shopping and cooking etc, I didn’t do much… I sat and daydreamed. A bit like when my kids were little and had a proper tantrum, when there’s no point trying to reason with them. I just waited until I’d calmed down.

So, what have you noticed about yourself, in the last month, that you’ve been pleased to notice? That perhaps you’d like to see more of?

That I am quite capable of dealing, on my own, with uncomfortable emotions. I can feel bored or sad or lonely or anxious… and nothing awful happens. It’s just a feeling, it passes if I just let it be, I calm down, then I’m able to just quietly get on with the small stuff, complete the small (boring!) jobs instead of avoiding them, which gives me a sense of accomplishment at ticking things off my list, finishing things off. I've recognised that there are things that I can do that help me feel safe, and a bit more in control, and its only then that I am able to come up with more creative, forward focusing ideas that make me happy (Like what to write in a blog!).

If you, or someone you know is struggling right now, with low mood, anxiety, work productivity, unhealthy eating or drinking habits, then I don’t have all the answers… but I do have skills and techniques that can help them find what they need for themselves.

Give me a call for a chat, pass on my details. All appointments are online, and it works great.

… and in the mean-time; What have you noticed about yourselfthat you’ve been pleased to notice, and would like to see more of?

All the best,

Alex

Finding Resilience

Finding Resilience

I work part time in the NHS and part time self-employed here. For me, like everybody else in the country, it’s been quite a fortnight.

Last week I was really busy with calls to Green Tree from folks who were really scared. Most of them weren’t in a position to pay me, and I was happy to be able to do something useful and help them to manage a bit better.

This week has been quieter and my days at the hospital especially have been weirdly, eerily quiet. I have spent my time mainly trying to help people over the phone and prevent unnecessary hospital visits. The hospital is as empty as possible. It reminds me of films of tsunamis, when the tide goes way, way out and the beach is still, but with an incredible air of tension.

I have four kids at home, a partner who is self-isolating at his house, half my income has vanished and I’m now on call to head back to ward work (for the first time in almost a decade) whenever I’m needed. I’m completely out of my comfort zone, I have many fears about what’s to come, and I’m certainly not the only one.

This week I’ve met hospital managers who feel completely out of their depth, receptionists who are terrified of patients breathing on them, a dentist practice manager who looked white with stress behind her face mask and a fellow Occupational Therapist who has to make an impossible decision about how to continue working at the same time as protecting her high-risk family member, to name but a few.

So, whilst I’m waiting at home for whatever is coming our way, there are things I can do to help, particularly for my fellow health care professionals, but for anyone who is struggling in this situation.

Today, I want to share an exercise I learned from the amazing teachers and therapists at Brief* in London. These guys are the world’s experts in Solution Focused Brief Therapy and I was lucky enough to do some training with them last month. They started the course with this exercise, I have used it a few times since and was reminded of it by the extremely knowledgeable Evan George in his latest Facebook video. It’s an exercise that can be tremendously useful for people facing difficult times, and if ever we needed that, it’s now!

Like all Solution Focused stuff, it’s simple, but not necessarily easy. It requires some work and some concentration.

At the beginning of your working day, take a few minutes, as a team or on your own. Sit somewhere quiet, with a piece of paper and a pen, and ask yourself this question:

“If, somehow, I was to find myself at my absolute best in the coming days or weeks… How would I know? What would I notice?

Then write down 20 things you would notice, about yourself, if you were ‘at your best’. 

Now write the names (or initials if you prefer) of 5 important people in your life. Then list at least 5 ways that each of them would notice that you were at your best. What would they see? What would they notice about you if you were, in-fact ‘at your best’? 

It’s important that there are a lot. It’s in that concentrating to find all 20, and then all 25 that you’ll come up with the useful skills, attributes and resources that are all too easy to forget in difficult, stressful times when we are overwhelmed with a problem. Reminding yourself of your skills, attributes and resources puts you in a completely different frame of mind. It’s surprisingly empowering, it enables you to remain calm and make sensible decisions, and it's key in finding the resilience you need.

I hope you enjoy doing this, I hope it helps and please give me a call if you’d like to talk. 

Look after each other,

Alex

* https://www.brief.org.uk

 

 

Publish the Menu module to "offcanvas" position. Here you can publish other modules as well.
Learn More.