I think it is safe to say that 2020 hasn’t really started like most years, and describing the last 4 weeks as surreal, is quite the understatement. The importance of the COVID-19 lockdown can’t be denied, we are all having to stay home to keep ourselves, friends, family and the country safe.

Everyone is affected and we are all in the same boat right now, so I certainly don’t want this blog to be a ‘poor me’ or ‘I am worse off’ scenario. I am now 5 weeks into self-isolation and that has been completely on my own. Living with myself is sometimes trying, but with myself and my anxiety, turns out we are not the best of roomies!

I am very aware that despite feeling alone a lot of the time, I know I can’t be the only one that feels like this. So for anyone that is feeling anxious or is experiencing your anxiety heightened in this crisis, I am writing this for you.

The Brain Fog

Despite being a fairly sociable individual and a self-claimed ‘people person’, turns out that I am not as good at entertaining myself on my own. It is hard not to dwell on the negative things when you are having a low moment, or when everything is becoming too much. Only having yourself to bring you out of it is the toughest, as it is that brain of yours that has got you into this state. And if it’s not your active mind going round and round with thoughts, it’s one of my regular visitors, ‘the brain fog’. That feeling of disconnection from your day or lack of attention span can creep upon you, when you least expect it and when you definitely don’t want it.

Little Wins

To tackle this, I have taken to writing a day plan/to do list and sticking it on my fridge every night. So when I feel myself slipping into a state of panic or unrest, I make myself tick something off the list! It is not a foolproof plan but it certainly gives an interim of distraction and a sense of achievement to counteract that bloody fog!

The Outside World 

Now lockdown fortunately does not mean being confined within our four walls 24/7. Exercise and essential shopping is allowed. However, with the social distancing regulations and the threat of the pandemic, I have found that this doesn’t always give me any self-isolation relief. Shopping is now stressful – avoiding people in the aisles, trying to get in and out as quickly as possible with all your essentials and hoping you haven’t forgotten anything. Not to mention when you get home you have to wash your hands first and foremost and make sure you clean all of the outside off you. To avoid this, I could just online shop but I feel more content with leaving those slots for the more vulnerable and in need of their shopping delivered.

Getting Up and Running 

On the flip side, I now love exercise! Slight overstatement, I need to exercise as I like to eat and drink what I want. Although working out has been one of my biggest saviours through this. Setting myself a daily challenge really helps me get active and feel really proud of myself for doing it. Whether it is a Joe Wicks workout or a 5km run, or both sometimes, it really doesn’t matter. I am not a scientist but they aren’t wrong when they say getting moving releases those ‘happy hormones’. Don’t get me wrong some days it is a real struggle to get myself motivated to do anything but when I do, my mood change is amazing.

Human Interaction

One of the hardest things about being on your own is a sudden realisation that it is 4pm and you haven’t smiled, laughed or even spoken a verbal word all day. Granted this doesn’t happen everyday and that is not because I have started talking to myself, yet! I’m extremely fortunate to have the best family, friends and colleagues that are always available when I need them and even when I don’t think I need them (but during this time it seems I do a lot!). There are definitely times when I don’t feel like talking, or moving from the sofa, but a five minute call can make a massive difference, I don’t think I’ve known what people are having for dinner so much in my life.

Keep Chatty 

I could continue and discuss the lack of sleep, regular chest palpitations, breathlessness etc, but if you are someone who suffers with anxiety already or are feeling more anxious than usual, you know what I mean.

Happy to Talk 

As I stated at the beginning of this blog, I know I’m not the only one in this position but I wanted to share my thoughts and how I am taking each day, in the hope that it might resonate with others and make you feel less alone.

We have to make sure we are looking after our Mental Health and keeping it as safe as we are our physical health amid this pandemic.

Stay safe everyone and I am always happy to chat 🙂

Sarah Childs – Head of Digital Delivery and Diversity & Inclusion

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