Is shielding making you sick?

It has been 4 months since lockdown, although there are changes being made to the guidelines all the time we are still being urged to keep away from others. It doesn’t feel natural to keep apart from the ones we love for as long as we have been doing but if you are shielding or are living with someone who is, you may choose to continue no matter how hard it is becoming. This may feel even more difficult now that you can see others out and about, socialising more and shopping. The government guidelines which are due to change from the 1st August will now advise that you do not need to shield at home. 

You know what you feel about this idea and if you are ready to make a change to your daily living arrangements. If you have a serious health condition you may decide to continue to shield for as long as you decide it’s right to do so. This is a totally individual choice but you may have external pressures on you to stop shielding when you don’t feel comfortable just yet to make the change. This in itself will lead to uncertainty and indecision which is bound to cause some degree of anxiety. You are not alone with your concerns, even people who haven’t been shielding are worried, it is a natural and understandable reaction but it is a feeling that you can overcome if you allow yourself some time to start making changes slowly. It’s really important to make small changes which when they come together give you confidence to move forward. 

You may have pressure from your employer to return to work and have the worry that your workplace isn’t covid secure. This is a very real concern for anyone who has a severe or underlying health conditions. You will have to consider your level of risk and how you can protect yourself in this situation. Talk to your boss about what safety measures they will have in place and if you can continue to work from home you should still do this if you are vulnerable or high risk. You can find more information from the HSE website here 

https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/working-safely/

Perhaps you have grandchildren who you haven’t been able to hug or have round to visit since lockdown began? And now it is up to you and family what you do. For example, you can enjoy having your family around you again providing you social distance. There are measures you can put in place to keep things as safe as possible. 

Also, you may not want to upset your loved ones by continuing to shield now that the rules are due to alter. Although your family will completely understand the need for you to carry on shielding, younger grandchildren will not comprehend the meaning behind why you are staying away and you may end up feeling torn. 

Given the virus is completely invisible, children will only understand why they have to do what they are being told, if they have developed the cognitive processes that enable them to think abstractly. Young children (up to 10 years) will not understand the full implications, so are more likely to forget what you tell them and become upset if they haven’t seen you for a long time. That’s normal.  The way in which children develop is visible in the government’s decision that children under the age of 11 are exempt from wearing masks.  

Do you feel trapped, like a prisoner in your own home? You may be yearning to go somewhere different, go back to work and have built up a resentment of those who can go about their daily business seemingly without worrying. Alternatively, after all this time shielding, the thought of stepping outside your own four walls may cause you to recoil in horror.  

If you are a vulnerable adult, after shielding is paused you can still receive support with collecting shopping, medications etc from the NHS Volunteer Responder Scheme website

Stress relievers to try 

We all think we know how to breathe, many of us don’t. When we’re stressed our breathing becomes shallower and that sends the wrong message to a particular part of our brain which puts that part of the brain on alert and so our stressed cycle continues. You can search our Facebook page for more information and techniques. 

If you are able to, get outside. Make a conscious effort to get into the fresh air, just into your own garden if you feel more comfortable. Try out some mindfulness – be still for 5 minutes – listen to the trees or the birds. Going barefoot is another stress relieving technique, just wander round your garden barefoot for a change. To feel the grass under your feet makes us feel grounded and if it’s wet? Even better! You will feel invigorated within a few minutes. 

There is the home workout option too, you really do feel the benefit of it afterwards and there are hundreds on YouTube to suit every person’s situation, need and age. To change your mood, change your body. Get up, change the position of yourself, get moving, put on some uplifting music to listen or dance to. You will almost instantly feel different. Listen to this one and you’ll see you just can’t help feeling happier! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6Sxv-sUYtM 

This won’t last forever. 

If you are feeling stressed out or anxious this is a natural response to these abnormal times, however it’s important that you get help to deal with your anxiety because in some cases untreated anxiety can lead to clinical depression. If you would like some independent help to reduce your anxiety contact us to book an online session with Adriana, our experienced psychologist. 

Live Life Not Strife 
We’re available for remote consultations, for a confidential chat on how we can help 
you contact us on 01625 786026 / 07980 667103 or email [email protected]. Please visit our Facebook Page: 
https://www.facebook.com/livelifenotstrife 

Tiny tips towards living a fuller happier life! 

Uncertainties about keeping safe

Now that lockdown restrictions are being lifted, we find ourselves with a brand-new set of questions and worries about social distancing. Of course, we have the government guidelines set out for us to work to but it almost seems that the onus is on the individual now to decide how they conduct themselves; whether you wear a mask when you’re out and about, visit your relatives in their homes, standing 2 metres apart from your friend in the park? It is almost bringing a whole new etiquette into our daily lives which in itself can be stressful. 

Wearing masks 

The governments’ announcement yesterday evening that it will be compulsory to wear a mask in shops in England from next Friday may come as a relief, as the uncertainty recently has led to confusion and anxiety for some. Wearing masks can be a very individual decision, you may wear a mask yourself every time you go out because you believe it will limit the spread of the virus, plus you may feel more protected in wearing one. 

You may have asthma in which case the Asthma UK website states: 

“If you’ve got asthma, you may or may not be able to wear a face mask or covering. It’s a good idea to try one out at home, or on a short walk around the block first. If it feels fine, then you can wear it, and it won’t harm you. 

But if it makes it feel harder to breathe, the UK Government has advised that you don’t have to wear one. You could try a few different types to see if there is one that suits you, but if you feel breathless or suffocated while wearing a face covering, then don’t wear one.” 

NB Always remember to take your inhalers with you. 

Others might have different personal issues with wearing masks. It takes a bit of getting used to and if you harbour some level of claustrophobia perhaps or have a child with autism it may well be completely impossible for you or your child to put a mask on. You might have autism yourself, in which case the same issues apply, Autism Hampshire.org says: 

These new guidelines raise new challenges for some autistic people. Autistic people sometimes have difficulty in understanding facial expressions in ‘normal’ (pre-Covid-19) times. The new guidelines for people to wear masks will make it even more difficult for some autistic people to understand facial expressions as body language in communication will be restricted to what the eyes can tell us.”  

Practically speaking 

You might find it helpful to try a few different types before you find one that is comfortable or easy for you to breathe in. You may feel self-conscious or vulnerable which puts you off wearing a mask, if this is case just give it a go! In time we may see pictures similar to those in China where wearing masks is part of our daily routines.  

Why is it hard to wear a mask? 

You might not understand your hesitation about wearing a mask outside of your home. As humans we are deeply programmed to assess risk by watching what’s happening around us. So, before we pass somebody, we will automatically have looked at their face and unconsciously made an assessment as to whether we feel safe. If not, we tend to put greater distance between us and them in an everyday setting, it could be crossing the road.  

Wearing masks stops us from gaining the information we need to feel safe. It also stops us from giving feedback to other people approaching us. Maybe we have to consider new ways of giving this information, such as a nod of our head as we approach somebody rather than smiling. This deep unconscious recognition of another person, is what helps to ease the anxiety of passing someone we don’t know. Alternative ways of acknowledging someone e.g. by a nod in passing or saying hello can reassure that we and/or they, do not present a threat. 

Visiting friends and family 

Then there is the question of visiting friends and families’ homes. The guidelines now state we can go into another household and have another household visit us, while maintaining social distancing, but again it all comes down to personal choice. It may feel totally strange to go into your friend’s house for a coffee and chat after all this time we have been staying away. We know that the risk at the moment is lower than it was, but it is still there. You may feel too worried to take this step right now, there’s always that ‘What if?’ in the back of your mind, so just do what you feel comfortable with. 

Alternatively, you might be keen to invite your friend in for that long-awaited cuppa, but don’t be surprised if they don’t take you up on it just yet. It might take them a little longer to get used to the idea. Another friend might just bite your hand off! Maybe you have actually “got out of the habit” of visiting friends and are finding it difficult to get back to doing it – (not just because of the social distancing or fear). 

People who are natural introverts may have even found lockdown an enjoyable experience, to have the social pressures of meeting friends removed may have been almost a relief and now the thought of getting back to normal could be anxiety inducing! Sometimes it’s hard to make the first move, especially if you have let contact lapse over the last 2 -3 months and haven’t been mixing with people much?  

Take it slowly, as a first step, send a text and ask how your friend is, do they fancy a chat at some point? Don’t worry if they don’t get back to you straight away, they themselves might be in a similar situation. Once you’re feeling a little more confident, think of someone who makes you smile. Make an arrangement to meet them, for example, out of doors for a quick catch up, you will be glad you made the effort as chatting to a friend can be beneficial.  

Finally, it’s natural for people to react by having an opinion about others who aren’t wearing a mask or keeping their distance, but we have to keep an open mind. We should perhaps concentrate on what responsibilities we are taking ourselves rather than scrutinize other people’s behaviour. You may feel less stressed out once you take on this mind set!  

If you are unsure about what is the right thing to do regarding social distancing, click the link here for the government guidelines https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Have a look at some of the information we have on our Facebook page about anxiety but if you need more individual help please contact us to book an online session with our experienced psychologist. 

Live Life Not Strife 
We’re available for remote consultations, for a confidential chat on how we can help 
you contact us on 01625 786026 / 07980 667103 or email [email protected]o.uk. Please visit our Facebook Page: 
https://www.facebook.com/livelifenotstrife 

Tiny tips towards living a fuller, happier life! 

Young children missing seeing their grandparents?

So, we are into our 3rd month of social distancing and the situation isn’t becoming much easier. Although the restrictions have been lifted slightly, we still need to keep our distance from those outside our own household. To do this with our loved ones who we do not live with, feels increasingly difficult and totally unnatural. Particularly, for young children who do not fully understand the reasons for social distancing, this can be very trying. 

 
1 – Your children may have spent a large amount of time with their grandparents before the lockdown measures were brought in and since, have not been able to be with them at all. This is bound to have had an effect on them and they will undergo a form of grieving that they will not understand. It’s important to bring extra reassurances and support by continuing to give comforting hugs and quiet chat times before bed while snuggling up reading stories and playing games together is also important, being able to give your children a few minutes to share disappointments or upset about not seeing their grandparents and little friends is crucial. We often find it difficult to see our child’s upset when we can’t do anything to change things. An acknowledgement and hug makes things better for all age groups. 

 
2 – Another way to ease the situation includes bringing the technology we have around us into play. To see one another on a screen is the next best thing to sitting with your loved ones having a cup of tea and a chat, it may take a bit of getting used to at first but it is definitely a fantastic way to connect. Children love it too, although you may find they can take over the call! Equally if your children are very young they may find it hard to associate their grandparent’s voice and face with the screen and sometimes find it confusing, or they lose interest in the call very quickly, because this is a new way of being with their grandparent and planting a kiss on a cold glass screen just isn’t a substitute at all! So if this happens don’t ignore it, you may want to explain to your child that everyone in the family wants to see everyone else, but there are new rules to stop people getting poorly so we can all only hear or watch our relatives and friends at the moment. Equally a great aunt who hasn’t had children may not understand why your child doesn’t speak into the telephone or screen so explain, explain explain! 

Your children’s general level of cognitive development will help you gauge where they are with social distancing. My own rule of thumb is, if your child understands the concept of how to cross a road safely they probably understand and can remember to social distance. The less they understand that the less able they will be to understand why people are wearing funny masks and not touching each other. At least they know what a car or a bike is, but it’s another level again, to try and explain that we are all being careful of something that is invisible! Plus, there’s a balance to be had between too much information that could lead them to become anxious verses them being in situations where they are constantly having to be reminded not to do something. eg., For those of you with four year olds, this is akin to them getting 
scared because they think there’s a monster under their bed. Or teaching them to remember how to brush their teeth – and that’s only a twice a day exercise! 

 
3 – By this point in our social distancing situation, you will be able to meet together outside, which could feel like things being back to normal, from your child’s point of view. While a 7 or 8 year old will understand they can meet but can’t touch or stand too near their grandparent, you have little to no chance of a younger 3 – 6 year old child remembering to social distance, it will seem very strange to them, and they may become upset or unsettled after these visits. A little quiet five minute chat before or after seeing the grandparents may be just the thing to avert things! If you have a child under 5 years, be alert to the fact their brains haven’t developed enough to understand anything about social distancing, they will simply feel upset and hurt that their grandparent who usually gives them a hug and kiss has to turn away from them. They will not have the capacity to understand so you need to hold onto them tightly so they feel the reassurance and warmth of your love. 

 
4 – You could find time for you as a family to check in with the Grandparents and then have your more usual chat on a 1:1 another time to fully catch up with them. If your elderly relatives don’t have the facility to video call the telephone still works and is often the more ‘normal’ way for older people to stay in touch, remember learning new tech things can make us all feel a bit anxious, so keep to the things they find easiest for them. Calling them up on a regular basis, email or send them some photo’s in the post of what you’ve been getting up to gives your parents and your in-laws something to look forward to too. Or, make a personalised photo card/postcard to send to them for instance. It will brighten their day. 
Make family mini me’s with the children to send to Grandparents. As you may not be able to see each other in person at the moment, you can send them a mini version of yourselves to visit instead! Print off a full-length photo of each of you and stick to some cardboard (e.g. back of a cereal packet) and cut around the outline of the person. Then make a fold of cardboard to stick on the back so that it stands up. Get everyone to write a little message on the back of each one to make it more personal. 

 
5 – Get the children to make something for their Grandparents, it will help them feel connected. Kids love getting crafty, so with whatever you have around or from the recycling make something you can send to them. A picture made from different bits of a magazine torn up into colours for a rainbow perhaps, paintings or drawings. 
Older children may like to write them a letter, or a poem. Whatever it is they can 
make for their Grandparents one thing is certain, it will bring a smile to their face and be received with love. 

Live Life Not Strife 
We’re available for remote consultations, for a confidential chat on how we can help 
you contact us on 01625 786026 / 07980 667103, please visit our Facebook Page: 
https://www.facebook.com/livelifenotstrife 

Tiny tips towards living a fuller happier life!