As we are almost a week into the lockdown in the UK due to the global pandemic, there is a lot of anxiety and worry in the air. You may be wondering whether you will get the virus or your loved ones, or you might have already had it, worried for your income due to the lockdown and future on the whole. Perhaps you are a parent struggling to motivate your kids to home school whilst also juggling work commitments.
You may also experience very intense anxiety and feeling unsafe. You may experience being in a state of shock and struggle to make sense of your new reality. Perhaps you have gone into a shutdown mode and find it difficult to motivate yourself.
I wanted to write this post to help you to make sense of what may be triggered in your internal world by the current external events. The more you understand what is happening within you, hopefully, the easier it is for you to let the feelings come and go, and continue to function and take care of daily duties.
You may be particularly triggered, if you have experienced childhood trauma, for example, domestic violence, abuse, attachment trauma (mother wound) and these experiences are still are very much alive (unprocessed) in your body and nervous system. These sudden external changes, the threat of the Covid-19 virus together with the restriction’s in movement may trigger old feelings of unsafety and powerlessness.
Our brain and nervous system were developed to ensure our survival when our ancestors lived in caves and had to escape from bears or tigers. The job of our brain is to keep us safe. If you have experienced unprocessed trauma, your body remembers you being in danger and your Amygdala (the smoke system of the brain) gets alerted every time there is something that is potentially reminding your system of danger. You can read more about how your brain reacts to psychological trauma here.
The constant messages in the media and social media keep your nervous system on high alert. The messages are more evidence of the world being unsafe. If you were internally feeling unsafe before the pandemic, now the external world may be matching your internal experience.
The lockdown may remind you of experiences of being helpless and not having agency. It may also trigger your sense of isolation and loneliness.
You may be experiencing numbness and shock as the changes happening have taken place so rapidly.
To understand what is being triggered within you, notice what was there (in your internal world) before this epidemic and the lockdown. Notice if there is something about the current situation that feels familiar to you. Perhaps write this down and remember to breathe deeply and then exhale for as long as you can. Repeat for a few times.
- Acknowledge your feelings – they are normal and are like waves that come and go. It is a normal reaction to experience shock as the news of a lockdown came so suddenly. It may take some time to adjust to the new normality.
- Be kind to yourself. Your emotions may fluctuate a lot.
- Create comforting routines and focus on what you can control – Do you remember when you were in school and had a timetable to follow? This allowed the hours to whizz by as you knew what to expect. Create a similar daily schedule for yourself:
- Get dressed and brush your hair, even put makeup if you usually do so – This may sound funny, but it will make you feel so much better if you put some effort into looking after yourself in the morning.
- Do physical exercise to give you a natural high and sense of being in control of your body
- Do yoga, meditation and visualisations, which are great for creating a sense of tranquillity and internal space for reflection (Visit Resource Library for guided visualisations)
- Do activities that make your heart sing – What do you love doing that allows you to get lost in your experience?
- Have regular meal times
- Work if you are continuing your work online or fill your day with other activities
- Eat nutritious food and drink enough water, perhaps limit alcohol consumption as it may end up increasing your anxiety and cause more problems in the long run
- Keep connected with people – make contacts via using Zoom, WhatsApp, Skype or other apps you use
- Limit exposure to the news that might be triggering you – perhaps check the news once or twice a day to be informed but not continuously bombarded
- Remind yourself that this phase will pass and it will not be forever
Please remember: you are not alone with your experiences.
I hope this was useful and helped you to understand your reactions as well as how to start creating some sense of safety during the even unusual circumstances. I wish you well.
If you are looking to address childhood trauma, please check out my services.