Coronavirus

Coming to terms with a new reality

I don’t know about you, but I feel Friday was a line in the sand kind of day. Life as we know it changed dramatically.  

After a week of gradual restrictions imposed upon us,  Friday’s were the most stringent and while its absolutely right that these new restrictions are in place, it’s only natural that many people are now experiencing a great sense of loss. 

Change is always hard to deal with when its unexpected, or imposed, and even good changes need a period of adjustment as we adapt. But the kind of changes we may have had to deal with in our pasts have usually affected just ourselves, or maybe our close family e.g. a bereavement or a redundancy. 

What we have all had to cope with over the past 2-3 weeks has been unprecedented in our lifetimes: multiple changes to the life we have all taken for granted with wave after wave of fear-inducing headlines; curtailments to our freedom and our ability to provide for ourselves and our families; panic-buying and food shortages; operations cancelled; travel restricted . . . the list goes on.  

As most of us are now confined within our homes, distancing or isolating ourselves to protect ourselves and others, many of us are experiencing the same kind of grief reactions we normally see after a serious loss like a bereavement.  Despair, anger, denial, fear, anxiety, a sense of hopelessness.  

As uncomfortable as they are, remember they are very normal feelings.  You are not wrong in any way for having them, and neither are the people around you. It’s going to take some time for us to get used to this new world order, and adapt.  But we will, and we will come out the other side stronger for it knowing we have been tested by extraordinary circumstances, and found a way through. 

Inevitably some of us are going to lose loved ones and this is tragic beyond belief.  Many of us may be gravely ill.  But even in these desperate times remember there are always people who will help, and we need to try and focus on this and all the positive things we can do to keep ourselves emotionally well rather than allowing ourselves to worry and let anxiety take hold.

"Hope is knowing that there are wonderful possibilities and that miracles can happen. Hope is believing that until nothing is left, something good exists somewhere. Hope is understanding that change is possible and that anything can happen. Hope is being able to imagine that something positive can eventually come out of heartache and pain and that nothing and no one is hopeless. Hope gives each of us the courage to face life’s challenges, the motivation to move forward, and the strength to go on."

Barbara Cage

If we have children and grandchildren they will need us to be strong, supportive role models for them, and show them what extreme self-care looks like, so they can feel reassured that we are handling this, and encouraged to follow our lead and take good care of themselves.  

Being strong doesn’t mean we won’t sometimes feel anxious or worried, or lose it, and cry or shout when we are feeling stressed, but it means we take responsibility for our feelings, apologise if we have upset others, and keep trying to honour our feelings and let them out in healthy ways. Being strong also does not mean we must stoically keep going when we are struggling, and it does not mean we don’t reach out for help to those around us.  Knowing when we need extra support and seeking it is a sign of great strength, not weakness.  

All around us people are stepping up: local communities have formed support groups to ensure people stuck at home can still get food, medicine and a friendly voice on the phone if needed. Many local pubs, food shops are restaurants are now offering takeaway and delivery services too.  Supermarket staff are working round the clock to ensure we can still get food, and the government and businesses are offering unheard of measures of support. Our wonderful doctors, nurses and care workers are providing the very best level of care they possibly can, and risking their own health to look after us. 

Therapists like myself are also stepping up to the real challenges of supporting people who are in great emotional distress.  Many are adapting by moving to working online to ensure their clients can still access vital emotional support, not just around the virus but the many other issues that cause people to seek counselling or coaching. 

How I Can Help  

I am here to support you and your children in a number of ways too:   

Information 

I have resurrected this blog (which has been dormant for an embarrassingly long time!) and will be regularly updating it with information to support you during this very challenging time. I will share advice on keeping well during isolation, coping with difficult feelings, how to support your children, and so on. If there is anything you would specifically like me to address just let me know.

You can also download a copy of one or both of my free ebooks – one for adults and one for children – which are all about ways to manage stress, anxiety and overwhelm. They were written before the virus took hold so are not specifically about Covid-19, but many of the strategies will still be useful.

How to Nurture Your Child’s Mental Health: Instant actionable tips for helping your child cope when life is difficult

Emotional First Aid for Life’s Difficult Times: 30 Actionable Strategies to Tackle Overwhelm, Reduce Stress and Calm Your Emotions

Therapy and Coaching

Over the past couple of years I have been offering clients 3, 6 and 12 months programmes of therapy and coaching only, and my new website focuses on this approach.  However I have taken the decision to temporarily set aside my new way of working during this crisis, so that people who would prefer to book ad hoc sessions as and when they need them on, a pay-as-you-go basis, can do so.

This is in recognition of the fact that stress levels are super high at the moment and many of you need support, but feel you cannot commit to purchasing longer term programmes while things feel so uncertain. I completely understand this and, whilst I still believe that my new model is the best approach in normal circumstances, we are clearly not in normal circumstances now.

I have been using a free online video meeting service which has a very high standard of confidentiality and data security for the past couple of years to see adult clients who are not able to come to Sunshine Barn, and it works really well. So, until further notice all sessions – for adults and children – will be held remotely so we can stay safe and protected, but still see each other. (There’s no need to download any software or set up an account to use Zoom, just click on the link which will be sent to you when you book a Zoom appointment.)

If you would like to book a session for yourself or your child, you can use the
buttons below:

Animal Assisted Therapy for Children

ONLINE SUPPORT

 I am also busy creating an online course to support children and young people, with the help of my lovely therapy dog, Bertha. We will be making some videos to help them cope with their fears and worries, living in isolation, and with being away from school and their friends. There will also be supporting material for you as parents, with advice and tips to help you and them.

Click here to register your interest in this online course, and I will send you full details as soon as I can.

Social Media 

I will regularly be sharing words of comfort and support, and sharing information which I hope will be helpful to you, so if you don’t already follow me, please do connect using the links on the website.

If you have any questions about your own or your child’s mental health do reach out to me, I am here to support you.

Sending warmest wishes to you and your family. 

Frances x

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