Posted by Michelle Casey on 09 Nov 2020

Now we are in lockdown part deux, things are looking more than a little bleak at the moment. We can tentatively look forward to a reprieve nearer to Christmas, but even that is far from in the bag BUT let’s keep things POSITIVE!!!

Below is a list of advice on how to get through when times feel tough:

I frequently sing the praises of our beautiful borough and all the space it has to offer, but I’ll do it again. We are surrounded by a plethora of beauty, go out and enjoy it.

Trees: Even a 15-minute walk among the trees has been scientifically proven to dial down our stress hormone.

Water: Being close to water reduces the production of cortisol in our brain, which reduces stress.

Patterns: Research has shown that fractals, or patterns, found in nature eg snail shell, pine cone, veins on a leaf help us relax when we see them.

Wildlife: When we see something we are in awe of, or something beautiful, dopamine is released in our brain which lifts our mood. So go and see if you can spot that colourful kingfisher at the Hogsmill!

Set yourself realistic goals to avoid feeling overwhelmed by things. Write these down if you wish and then tick them off (is there anything more satisfying than ticking off a list?).

Be mindful of what is going into your body- that body is bringing you out of lockdown too.

Have little ways to punctuate the day, whether that be having a cuppa together when your partner or you arrive home (even if that’s ‘home’ from the ‘office’ in the spare room) or starting your day with a walk around the block or some yoga stretches. It all serves to add a little structure to the day.

Nurture and tend to the key relationships in your life, even if you’re not seeing each other face to face. Times will be tough, but you need each other.

Go for socially distanced walks with a friend then grab a take- away coffee to wrap your mitts around (support local!).

…in your garden. Wrap up warm and have a ‘cook out’ complete with toasted marshmallows (s’mores anyone? Yes please!).

Find a good TV series and enjoy. This can be a really great way of connecting with people as you recommend it to others and then dissect the who, what and why…

…in a book. Read something far removed from your reality right now. Read about someone having a harder time than you. Misery loves company after all…

Perhaps now is the time to perfect those flamboyant Christmas recipes, in preparation for the big day…

Doing a good deed for someone lights up the part of the brain associated with pleasure, trust and social connection: a ‘helper’s high’. It’s a win-win situation.

Avoid excessive time on social media. This is easier said than done, I know! Remember, that mum with her colour co-ordinated kids, in front of her autumnally bedecked front door has worries and issues, just like us less colour co-ordinated folk.

Christine Michele Murray, a local therapist says;

‘If you feel stressed or anxious, try to grab some time for yourself, just a few minutes can make a big difference- either with a quiet cup of tea, coffee, or a glass of water. Savour it. Try some deep breathing exercises: breathe in through your nose for 3 and out for 6, at the same time close your eyes and picture your favourite place.’

Christine feels that a good attitude to take forward into this lockdown is summed up in the quote, ’When you cannot control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond, that is where your power is.’

Sometime in April this year a new sentiment emerged: ‘We are not all in the same boat. We are in the same storm.’

It’s reasonable to acknowledge that we are all equipped differently to weather this second storm. Try to remember to look out for each other and the hard times will pass.

If you do feel like you need advice and help please see the links below (or reach out to Christine above):

Take care, Epsom and Ewell. We can do this.

Michelle xx

Michelle Casey
Michelle is a newcomer to the borough (since summer 2019) and lives in West Ewell with her husband and two children. She is a part-time primary school teacher and works in various schools in the area. When not teaching, writing, walking or attempting yoga, she is likely to be found at a playground or soft play with her littlies-preferably one that serves good coffee…

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