Cognitive Behavioural Therapist Lauren Bell’s five tips which aim to help us look after our mental wellbeing:
Tip five – Keep on top
The final strategy is around limiting the use of Safety Behaviours and Avoidance. Safety Behaviours and Avoidance strategies are things we all use when we are feeling anxious and scared. They are a way of us trying to feel more safe and in control. Strategies which are commonly used as a result of the pandemic are; checking, ‘googling’, over focus on bodily symptoms, reassurance seeking and general avoidance. Although we may feel that these strategies are helpful and they may provide us with a little relief, in the long term they perpetuate anxiety and can feed into the levels of stress, worry and fear that we experience. General avoidance for example works short term as we are not exposed to things we find threatening, however long term it prevents us from dealing with problems and learning that we can cope – even if things are new, unusual or stressful. If you are noticing yourself engaging in any of Safety Behaviours or Avoidance try to limit your use of them and gradually expose yourself to the things you are avoiding. Over time your brain will build more of a tolerance for the things it finds fearful and you will start to feel less anxious.
These are just some basic strategies which will hopefully help people to keep on top of their mental health in this ever evolving situation. Although there is not a lot we can do about the changes made by the government, it is important for us all to remember that we do still have a lot of control over our mental wellbeing. We can still choose to engage in activities and thinking styles that are more helpful for us and we can all choose to reach out and support each other as times get tough. Mindset plays a huge role in how we experience things and we can overcome even the most difficult of obstacles if we allow ourselves to believe that it is possible.
Lauren can be contacted via her social media pages: Facebook @therapyinyorkshire, Instagram @theyorkshiretherapist or by visiting her website: www.theyorkshiretherapist.co.uk. You can also access therapy for free through the NHS by contacting your local IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) service on 01302 565556.