Is there any support for anxiety & depression which have been magnified because of COVID-19?
Improved Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) offer NHS led counselling for anxiety and depression, primarily using cognitive behavioural therapy.
You can find your local service here: Find Your Local Services , most of which accept self-referral and offer digitally enabled consultations. Your GP can also refer you.
Other sources of support are MIND – charity that supports community mental health www.mind.org.uk which has general and local information, and from the Royal College of Psychiatrists www.rcpsych.ac.uk and British Association of Clinical Psychologists www.bacp.co.uk.
I need help with emotional overeating.
Most humans see food as nurturing and comforting, and most of us have been eating more during lockdown, for lots of reasons such as being around food more, having more time on our hands, having less distractions and less things to keep us busy or give us a routine that might otherwise prevent extra snacking and as a way of calming ourselves down when all the news around us is scary.
For many of us, the weekly shop may have become a highlight of the week and a rewarding activity. It may also have gotten harder to buy healthy food to cook from scratch if you’ve been on a tighter budget or been laid off work.
And if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed and anxious during this time, it may have been easier and more rewarding to order a take-away than to cook from scratch, or to turn to trusted comforting foods. These are all human responses. Some suggestions that may help are:
- Notice how you’re feeling and notice how you’re managing these feelings without judging yourself.
- Set yourself realistic goals, and if you manage one today, congratulate yourself, and let the ones you didn’t manage go until tomorrow.
- Each time you find yourself turning to the comfort foods, notice the feeling that prompted that decision, and take time to be kind to that feeling.
- Take note of other ways you might be kind to yourself that don’t involve food.
- Does a long bath make you feel taken care of?
- Does reorganising the kitchen cupboard help you feel you have something you can control?
- Does a binge-worthy serial help switch your mind off from the constant news reports?
- Does some deep breathing help calm you down?
- Finding ways to take care of your mental wellbeing during this time is going to be the golden thread that helps hold all the other bits of life together.
- Set aside time for yourself; if you’re able to go out, take a walk every day.
- Take time to notice the little reminders of why life is precious – notice nature, notice kindness, notice our privilege, notice community.
- Take time to do some breathing exercises every day, focussing on the breath and connecting with your body. Download a mindfulness app such as CALM of one of the other NHS approved wellbeing apps Link to Several Apps.
- Find small acts of kindness that you can perform for yourself and for others.
- Finally, if you’re struggling, speak to your GP or refer yourself for some counselling Find Your Local Services.
I need help with mental well-being
One important way to keep yourself safe and healthy during lockdown is to look after your mental well-being.
You may struggle like everyone else to lose weight during lockdown, whereas taking some extra steps to take care of your mental well-being might be more achievable and equally maybe keeping your current weight stable rather than gaining weight might be a better goal at this time.
Looking after your mental well-being helps recovery from any physical illness, boosts your immune system so that you are less likely to get ill and reduces anxiety about illness. Breathing exercises are an excellent way to look after your well-being and reduce anxiety. Sleep quality may also improve with breathing exercises. Some people who have struggled with psychological trauma may find breathing exercises hard to begin with, and a mindfulness app like CALM can help guide you through small steps to feel confident with this. There are excellent resources for looking after yourself in this time at https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus/
Some examples are in the links below:
If you are worried that you are not coping and you need more urgent help, see your GP, call 111 or call your local crisis line number
To find a local NHS urgent mental health helpline – Click Here
If you just need to talk, any time of day or night:
Free listening services are available.
These services offer confidential advice from trained volunteers. You can talk about anything that’s troubling you, no matter how difficult:
- Call 116 123 to talk to Samaritans, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org for a reply within 24 hours
- Text “SHOUT” to 85258 to contact the Shout Crisis Text Line, or text “YM” if you’re under 19
Further resources and sources of support:
- Feeling Anxious?
- Mental Health Helplines
- NHS Eating Disorder Support: What is an Eating Disorder?
- BEAT– Eating Disorder Charity Support
- Are you Bored, Lonely, Angry, Stressed or Tired? Click here for B.L.A.S.T. Advice.
- LOOKING AFTER YOUR HEALTH DURING COVID-19: A GUIDE FOR PEOPLE LIVING WITH SEVERE MENTAL ILLNESS