News Archive April 2020
Upon reflection: OCD during a global pandemic
At the age of 13, I was diagnosed with OCD which means I experience frequent, intrusive thoughts – obsessions. For me, this involves excessive anxiety around doing extreme harm – or not being able to prevent harm happening to loved ones. These distressing thoughts result in compulsive behaviours in an attempt to relieve the unease – for me this involves constant reassurance seeking.
I’ve been studying German at the University of Warwick, and have just completed the second semester of my second year. Under the Coronavirus lockdown, however, I’ve been living back at home. The impact of this virus has had a significant effect on how well I’ve felt mentally, particularly as it’s caused a lot of uncertainty. Within a few days of returning home, my plans for the next few months were completely thrown up in the air. The third semester was cancelled, and exams replaced with alternative forms of assessment online – although it’s not clear yet what kind of assessments we should expect. I am also meant to be moving to Germany in September to complete a year at a German university, but I’m left with an overwhelming amount of questions around that too.
If I did go, would the threat of the Coronavirus still be as great as it is now? If I did go, how long would I go for? If I did still go but only for part of the year, what would I do for the remaining part of the year? Where would I stay and what would I do? How would it affect my grades and future prospects? All of these questions remain unanswered, and the long days of waiting for them to be answered are so unsettling.
I don’t have many friends back home – those that I do have are also currently living in isolation. I miss the social buffer I found at university – both friends who are living in different parts of the country or the world, and also my boyfriend. Our relationship is very new and it’s the first proper love that I’ve experienced. Going from seeing each other every day to now only seeing each other over Facetime has been difficult to adapt to.
However, I can only take one day at a time. A switch to a much slower pace under lockdown, means that there’s more opportunities to get lost in our own thoughts – a breeding ground for scary intrusive thoughts and feelings to take hold. I’m aware of that and trying my best not to get lost in thoughts of the future. Instead, I’m been looking into mindfulness and trying to take in each moment fully. I keep reminding myself that I am safe at home, and that whilst it’s very difficult, the people who I love and care about most are also safe and are only a phone call away.
I have to remember that this will pass, and that life will eventually resume to a some sort of normality eventually – perhaps a different one, but one which I can also cope with and handle – I’ve been through worse. In the meantime, I tell myself that I am surviving, and that I can do no more than live each day mindfully and enjoy the little moments. By adopting a positive perspective on this, I’ve realised how strong I am and how capable my mind can be.
For more information and articles on OCD and looking after your wellbeing during coronavirus, use the links below:
Below are some helplines:
Charity offering support for sufferers of panic attacks and OCD.
Phone: 0844 967 4848 (daily, 10am to 10pm) | Website: www.nopanic.org.uk
Support for people with OCD. Includes information on treatment and online resources.
Phone: 0845 390 6232 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5pm) | Website: www.ocdaction.org.uk
A charity run by people with OCD, for people with OCD. Includes facts, news and treatments.
Phone: 0333 212 7890 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) | Website: www.ocduk.org
By Jess Woodward. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Hammersmith, Fulham, Ealing & Hounslow Mind.
Posted on: 24th April 2020
Staying well whilst working from home
We know that it’s an uncertain time for lots of people and many more of us are working from home to keep safe. We may also be worried about our health, families and finances, all of which can have a negative impact on our wellbeing. Our workplace wellbeing team have put together some information to help you look after your mental health whilst working at home.
Creating a consistent routine can provide structure to our working day and give us things to look forward to. One example of this could include arranging a team catch up at the same time each day or eating a healthy breakfast at the same time you would usually if it was a normal working day.
Having a clean, clutter free space to work from can reduce our stress levels and limit distractions. Why not put a photo that makes you happy, or words of encouragement on your workspace?
It’s good to be informed about what’s happening in the world, but too much exposure to news or social media can lead to us feeling overwhelmed. One way to limit our media consumption is to decide how often you’re going to check the news. Or you could try leaving your mobile phone in another room while working on an important task to resist the temptation of checking it. Similarly, you could try out an app to help you reduce screen time e.g. Freedom, Moment, and Space.
It’s easy to forget to take regular breaks whilst working from home. Try to take breaks as you would do at work, and use them to do something different, e.g. 5 minutes of breathing exercises or reading a book. You can let your team know when you’re going to take a break by blocking the time out in your calendar.
Working at home means we might not move as much as we would usually would throughout the day. Why not try out a virtual or online exercise class with your colleagues, or building in time for regular stretching.
Reflections and intentions
Keeping a record of our thoughts and experiences can help us learn more about what helps us stay well while working at home. At the end of each day, you could create a ‘reflections and intentions’ log. The ‘reflections’ could be the things you have achieved or noticed during the day, and ‘intentions’ are what you intend to do or practice the next day.
Staying in touch with colleagues can help us to feel connected to our team. Try using technology like online video conferencing tools or phones to arrange virtual coffee breaks and ask people how they are doing. If you do feel as though something is having a serious impact on your mental health, it may be worth reaching out to line-management or HR, as you may have access to an employee assistance programme.
Be kind to yourself
It’s normal to feel like we’re not doing enough or to put extra pressure on ourselves when working at home. We all have good and bad days and there are other factors that are causing extra worry right now. Take time each day to practice self-care, or you could try mindfulness or other relaxation exercises to help manage anxiety.
If you’re a manager, check out Mind’s blog about supporting yourself and your team during the coronavirus outbreak.
You can also find more resources for workplace mental health on the Mind website.
By Tabatha Mac. Cover image from Freepik.com
Posted on: 17th April 2020
Managing Anxiety around COVID-19: Try an Apple a Day
At the moment, we’re all probably feeling some level of anxiety around uncertainty. When we don’t feel like we have control of a situation, it is normal to feel uneasiness. As part of that, we wanted to share with you a simple technique to manage this kind of anxiety.
Is there something specific causing you to worry right now? It might be useful for you to think of that and go through the technique step-by-step. If there is nothing specific you can think of then that’s fine! Going through the APPLE technique can also help with general feelings of uneasiness and anxiousness.
Try to focus on one step at a time – and go at a pace that suits you. You can also download this as a full infographic here.
Acknowledge: Notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind.
Pause: Don’t react as you normally do. Don’t react at all. Pause and breathe.
Pull back: Tell yourself this is just the worry talking, and this apparent need for certainty is not helpful and not necessary. It is only a thought or feeling. Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are not statements or facts.
Let go: Let go of the thought or feeling. It will pass. You don’t have to respond to them. You might imagine them floating away in a bubble or cloud.
Explore: Explore the present moment, because right now, in this moment, all is well. Notice your breathing and the sensations of your breathing. Notice the ground beneath you. Look around and notice what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell. Right now. Then shift your focus of attention to something else – on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry, or do something else – mindfully with your full attention.
How did you find that? Easy? Hard?
In the same way we might use weight training to strengthen our muscles and tone our bodies, we can use techniques to exercise our mind. Neuroscience tells us that the more we practice those exercises, the more natural it becomes – so don’t worry if you found it hard to slow down and go through the APPLE, just save it and give it a go another time when you need it. Download it here.
For more information about Coronavirus and looking after your wellbeing click here:
If you would like more information about anxiety have a look at our page in Mind’s A-Z of mental health.
If you would like to talk to someone about your worries, below are helplines run by Anxiety UK and NoPanic:
Helpline: 03444 775 774
Text Service: 07537 416 905
Monday – Friday 9.30am – 5.30pm (excluding Bank Holidays).
COVID-19 specific: https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/coronanxiety-support-resources
“During the coronavirus pandemic, we will be extending our helpline hours to provide additional support in the evenings until 10pm and over the weekend between 10am -8pm so that we can offer support to as many people as possible who need our help.”
Webinars and support groups also available.
Helpline: 0844 967 4848
Email: [email protected]
Everyday – 10:00am – 10pm
By Blake Fontaine. This article has been adapted from: A Mindful Response to Thoughts, © Carol Vivyan 2016, getselfhelp.co.uk
Posted on: 3rd April 2020