Is Your Mind In Safe Hands?
“Decided not to listen to government advice or 111, because Sandra who lives next door turns out to be a microbiologist, national economic expert, housing advisor, mortgage guru, GP and national pandemic specialist … who’d have thought? Only last week she was a full time mummy selling tattoo ink on Facebook! … just goes to show, never judge a book by its cover”.
Sorry I can’t give credit to the original author, but four weeks ago I saw this on social media and I laughed, I’ve always enjoyed satire. In fact I use it as a coping strategy, it helps me in difficult times, to use irony or exaggeration to lighten the mood or the load. Perhaps it’s linked to being a nurse and having spent many years dealing with challenging situations where sometimes “gallows humour” gets you through. I’m afraid I’m not laughing now, I’m bombarded with advice, overwhelmed with the volume of information and I don’t have time to wade through it all.
I understand why we have this situation. People are shocked and frightened for their health, their businesses and their future. As human beings we don’t like change and we like to have control. Suddenly we have change, uncertainty and no control, the upshot being, we as a society are feeling anxious overwhelmed and distressed. The automatic response is to actively try to establish some semblance of control. Hence the increase in volume of advice, guidance and online offerings. In addition, we have a population who are desperately looking for answers to so many questions. It is indeed a perfect storm.
I have no credible knowledge of many, many topics and would never dream of expressing an opinion on those. I do however have a long and varied career in mental health, emotional well-being and building resilience, both as a nurse in various roles in the NHS and as a private therapist. And I am worried about the credibility of some of the advice being supplied and the services being offered to assist people at what is a very challenging and unprecedented time. There are people out there who will need some emotional assistance, guidance and support from a professional who is qualified and experienced to help them. There will be people for whom the maelstrom of positive thinking and affirmations will just not hit the mark.
So I urge you to pay attention to your thoughts feelings and behaviours. Our thoughts and feelings are there to guide us not drive us and it’s all about the intensity, duration and frequency of those. Be mindful of yourself, pay attention to how you are feeling, follow the simple advice around managing yourself in this situation. Things like;
- Eat well, drink lots of water and plan to sleep well;
- Stay connected, plan to chat with someone who gives you energy;
- Plan physical activity/ fresh air;
- Think about routine and structure, differentiating days and weekends etc;
- Limit social media time;
- Listen to the news once a day.
If you feel recurrently overwhelmed, sad, angry, or distressed then perhaps you would benefit from talking to a professional. If you think that’s the case, please follow this advice and seek out a properly qualified person to assist you:
- Check their qualifications and experience, ask them to explain what they mean;
- Check they are a member of a professional body, bound by a Code of Conduct and have insurance;
- Ask how will they work with you, will there be a treatment plan?
- Do they have any recommendations, can they supply you with any?
- During this period of increased online services, is it secure, being recorded and confidential [who is in their home]?
- Finally, talk with the person, this relationship is about rapport, you must feel that you like, trust and want to work with them. If not, move on to the next person. You are interviewing them to take care of your mind. It’s important.