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Looking after our mental health as lockdown eases

As many people tentatively return to socialising after months of being at home, fresh challenges and worries may arise about managing social distancing and controlling anxieties about the pandemic as a whole.

We recently hosted our first MQ Open Mind Webinar, where were joined by expert panellists to discuss how to look after our mental health as lockdown eases.

After the webinar, we asked each of our panellists their one piece of advice to for people to bear in mind as lockdown eases. Here's what they told us.

Dr Jennifer Wild, Clinical Psychologist and MQ funded researcher specialising in memory and cognitive processes linked to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety, said:

"One of the most important things you can do for your mental health is to speak to yourself with kindness – in the same way you would to a friend. Increasing your self-compassion, increases optimism as well as your overall mood, and makes you a better problem solver, a valuable skill for reducing stress."

Nathalie Rich, Research Assistant on the e-brain project, volunteer Colourful-Minds, told us: 

"Protect the aspects of your new normal that work for you.
We have all had to think and deal with our mental health in new ways and have hopefully found things that have benefited our wellbeing in lockdown. My hope is that we continue to practise whatever it is that has helped us feel better through this time.

"Alternatively, if lockdown has made you realise that there were things in your pre-pandemic life that were negatively impacting you - try not to invite them back into your life post lockdown. 

"Don't be so quick to rush back to pre-lockdown life, especially not at the cost of your mental health. Be kind to yourself and ease back into everyday living in a way that suits you, not in a way that everyone else appears to be doing it. There is no right or wrong way to recover from a global pandemic, so just make sure you come out of this in a way that benefits and works for you. 

James Downs, eating disorders and mental health activist, MQ Ambassador said: 

"Whilst the impacts of coronavirus have been experienced in different ways for different people, we can't deny that for some of us, lockdown may have placed fresh challenges on our mental health, or made existing problems harder to manage.  

"We hear a lot about 'bouncing back' and needing to be resilient, but this might seem unrealistic, or we may have not felt especially good before the pandemic. Instead of feeling pressurised to return to normal or like you need to keep up, isn’t it OK to have learnt and be changed by this time too? Maybe you have learnt new things about how to manage your mental health, or your priorities have shifted. Maybe, like me, there are things from life before lockdown that you want to leave behind and not return to. This is all OK, but rushing to adjust can mean we lose time to notice these things. 

"I also want anyone who feels like they are not getting the support that they need for their mental health to recognise that this is not because they are not worthy of help or being listened to. Services are stretched - perhaps more so than before - and your needs are as real as ever, however worse off you may think others might be. Seeking support from friends and family is so important, but is not a substitute for the care and treatment you may need and deserve."

If you missed the webinar, you can view it here. Grab a cuppa and a notebook, as it's jam-packed with useful information. 

Last updated: 29 July 2020

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